Fiction and reality blur fabulously in The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz. Last summer I had read and really enjoyed The Magpie Murders, but hadn’t pulled the trigger (sorry!) on buying another Horowitz until I found myself splurging at Bookshop Santa Cruz. When you end up buying upwards of five books, you start to throw in the occasional book that you know will just be fun, if nothing else. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this novel truly is something else. In an unusual narrative twist, the author is also one of the main characters. Yes, Horowitz becomes a type of Watson to the fictional Daniel Hawthorne’s Holmes. Clever was my first thought. It’s a different kind of strategy to what you would expect and, I knew from my previous read, that Horowitz is all about surprising the reader. What I hadn’t anticipated is that it would all become quite so absorbing, to the point where I would find myself online trying to figure out what parts of the story – specifically the actors, books and programmes mentioned – were real and what was made up for the novel.
Diana Cowper, mother of a the famous actor Damian Cowper, is murdered on the same day she planned her own funeral. Did she know she was going to die? In addition to the usual investigation by the Metropolitan Police, Daniel Hawthorne is sent in to examine the case. A tricky chap with obvious character flaws, Hawthorne wants to use the case as the basis of a book about himself, that he has asked Horowitz to write. The two had met some years previously when Hawthorne had consulted on a TV show written by the author. The unlikely pair had never become friends, in fact Horowitz is extremely reluctant to become involved, however the case is compelling enough for him to push ahead. In fact it’s as magnetic to Horowitz as it is to you the reader.
This is a really fun holiday read. It’s light, completely engaging and very well put together. If you’re a ‘one book per holiday’ kind of a reader or ‘need something good for the plane’, then this could easily be the book for you. I loved it.