What’s it about?
A woman goes into a funeral parlour and organises her own funeral. Later that day, she is murdered. Anthony Horowitz is between novels and projects, and is reluctantly drawn into investigating the story by a maverick ex-detective.
Well. This is a bit of a tricky one to describe. It’s a murder mystery and it’s written in the first person; Horowitz is the Watson of the piece. There are enough details in it- such as references to Foyle’s War and Horowitz’s Stormbreaker books- to have the reader not quite sure whether this is a true story or not. But it’s not. As such, I feel like it’s going to really wind some readers up. It’s very clever, but the blurring of fiction and reality can be a little unsettling.
The story itself is clever. Horowitz has written several Sherlock Holmes ‘sequels’ and there are definite echoes of those here. There is a difficult ‘consulting detective’ investigating, there is a Watson character in the shape of Horowitz himself, and there is a mysterious woman with a painful past. Now, that could be either lazy plotting or a writer using what he knows to write a successful murder mystery. I’m not sure which is accurate in this instance, but as it’s just a story, I’m not going to get too het up about it.
The story also reminded me of one of Horowitz’s TV dramas. Everything came together in a very neat scene, and the entire novel felt like it was ready for filming. However, I didn’t feel this way with his other original murder mystery, Magpie Murders, so this might be because of all the reminders of Horowitz’s other work. Indeed, the unconventional detective is meant to be a consultant on Foyle’s War.
So all in all, I’m not sure. I definitely enjoyed Magpie Murders more, but I did like this, and I didn’t guess the solution. Actually, I’d challenge anyone to guess the solution to this one.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, if you like Horowitz and murder mysteries. It’s not his best, but it’s something a bit different and in this world of Girl on the Train knock-offs, that is something.
The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz is published by Penguin priced £20. The paperback is published on 3rd May 2018 priced £7.99.