The Word is Murder

The Word is Murder


I’m not usually one for a murder mystery but it was Christmas and this came recommended. I finished it in three days and thought it was brilliant. I think part of the attraction isn’t just the mystery of the book but the truth behind the book itself.

In The Word is Murder, author Anthony Horowitz and the reader are thrust into a murder investigation. Horowitz inserts himself, unusually, very early in the story, when he is approached by an ex-detective inspector, Daniel Hawthorne, to write about a detective novel about him. He lures Horowitz in with a murder case he is currently investigating. The case is that of a well-heeled, older woman, Diana Cowper, who is strangled on the same day she visits an undertaker to plan her funeral.

Hawthorne invites Horowitz to follow him as his investigates the case and to write a novel about his work. The circumstances of the murder are compelling, but so too is the premise for this novel. Besides autobiographies, I’m not sure I’ve read a book where the author is a character in their own book. I had my doubts about it at first but it really works. The cynic in me does wonder about the running CV and name dropping but it helps bring the book to life. I wanted to look up all the characters to see who they were but I was always afraid I would ruin the ending.

Mrs Cowper, we learn early on, has had a coloured past and the list of suspects begins to take shape. Horowitz is eager to know who did it and fancies himself a bit of a detective, trying to not only write about the detective but also to outsmart him. And, while he is trying to outsmart the detective I was trying to outsmart them both, searching for clues in the pages to see if I could find the answers before they were revealed to me.

As well as being a great story well told, Horowitz brilliantly includes great descriptive passages, which I often try to race past but these didn’t feel intrusive to the story. Perhaps I was searching for clues in his descriptions.

I didn’t get there in the end. I came to many of the wrong conclusions the author came to along the way, but I did pick up on many of the clues as he works through the story. This was a compelling read. I think my hunger to work it out for myself pushed me to read it that much quicker and I would highly recommend if you think you have a knack for solving mysteries.


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