Fiction Ed’s Book Review: “The Word Is Murder”

the word is murder

I’ve just finished reading “The Word Is Murder” by Anthony Horowitz.

It’s the second book of his that I’ve read, and this one was purely because I enjoyed my first so much. That was “Magpie Murders”, which I reviewed previously here.

“The Word Is Murder” opens one bright spring morning in London, when Diana Cowper enters a funeral parlour to plan her own service.

Six hours later, she’s found dead . . .

It’s a classic whodunit. In this case, who strangled her with a curtain cord in her own home?

The police call on a disgraced ex-police officer, Daniel Hawthorne. While a prickly individual, Hawthorne is a brilliant detective, in the instinctive manner of Sherlock Holmes.

Creative writing

Where Horowitz’s writing is wonderfully creative is when we move on to the investigation.

Hawthorne wants a ghost writer to tell his story, using his work on this case as an example. And his writer of choice is . . . Anthony Horowitz. So the writer of “The Word Is Murder” becomes a character in his own book.

It adds a really unusual dimension to the conventional mystery format, and it works brilliantly.

The reader feels like she’s getting a sneaky peek into Horowitz’s writing life – meetings with his agent, meetings with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, the future of “Foyle’s War”. The lines between fact and fiction become blurred.

At the same time, Horowitz and Hawthorne are meticulously investigating the crime. Plus Hawthorne has his own dark secrets, and they add to the depth of his characterisation.

The body count doesn’t stop at one, and there are plenty of suspects to keep the reader’s mind ticking over – and racing off after red herrings.

This is a funny, crafty, well-worked out crime mystery, all rolled into one clever package. I loved it.

If “The Word Is Murder” isn’t quite for you, there’s bound to be a book that piques your interest in our book reviews section.

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.