Anthony Horowitz // The Word Is Murder


Diana Cowper had planned her own funeral and she was going to need it. She was murdered about six hours later that same day.


Title: The Word is Murder
Author:  Anthony Horowitz
Publisher: Century, August 24, 2017
Format/Source: Hardcover, Bookstore
ISBN:  9781780896847   


After reading Magpie Murders, I had very high hopes for this novel. Perhaps a teensy bit too high.

The Word is Murder is an unusual novel because Anthony Horowitz has written himself into it as the story’s narrator. His character is roped into playing a sort of Watson to freelance PI Daniel Hawthorne’s Holmes as they investigate the death of a wealthy widow. The insertion of Horowitz into the story as a main character is clever gimmick, but not really much more. Still, it is entertaining to be given access into Horowitz’s world; it would be interesting to know how much of it is fact and how much is fiction. Passages regarding his work on projects like Rin Tin Tin and Foyle’s War are especially engaging.

I really only have one problem with this novel: Hawthorne. Every time he sulks onto a page, I instinctively bristle. He is sullen and boorish, as well as manipulative. He gets some scraps of character development at the story’s end, but overall Hawthorne lacks any charisma. It’s not that I need to like his character, but cringing every time he barges into a room or flippantly disregards anyone else’s observations is, at least for me, problematic.

Luckily, I can overlook Hawthorne’s eccentricities because Horowitz provides a bevy of suspects with juicy motives and a tightly plotted mystery which kept me happily puzzled until (almost) the end. Those high hopes of mine weren’t reached, but I still enjoyed reading The Word is Murder. If this does become a series, as I believe Horowitz has said he plans it to be, I will definitely be picking up the next novel when it is released. You hear that, Hawthorne? You might have one more chance to grow on me.