We are off to spend a week on beautiful Georgian Bay, and I was planning to bring the library book I hadn’t quite finished yet. But then I remembered the advice I give students before Christmas Break and March Break, that if they are going away anywhere, they should never, never, bring a library book with them in case they leave it or lose it. So I got up early and finished Anthony Horowitz’s new novel, The Word is Murder. I was so excited when I got the notice that my hold for this book had arrive at the library, and started it right after I finished Susan Marshall’s book. I thought I better write this short post before we leave, since by the time we get back, I will have forgotten my impressions of the book and will have read at least one, if not two, other books in the meantime.
This murder mystery is written in the guise of a true crime book, and is told from the point of view of Anthony Horowitz himself. It opens with a woman getting off the bus and going into a funeral home to pre-plan her funeral. Six hours later she is murdered, strangled with the cord from one of her curtains. The police think it is a burglary gone wrong, except that she had just make her own funeral arrangements, and if you’d read any murder mysteries or police procedurals, you would know that detectives hate coincidences. This coincidence can’t be ignored, and the murder team, headed by Detective Charlie Meadows, calls in ex-detective Daniel Hawthorne to assist in the investigation. Hawthorne, in turn, contacts Horowitz, with whom he has worked as a consultant for a detective series Horowitz was working on, and asks him to write a book about this investigation. Horowitz is anything but pleased, but he gets drawn into the case, and despite their differences, they form a grudging relationship that keeps them working together until they solve the case. Hawthorne is brilliant, a bit of a Sherlock Holmes, with a quick mind and few words, but when he speaks, he never fails to WOW us with his keen observation and ability to make connections and draw conclusions. Horowitz, on the other hand, can be a bit of a drag, weighing down the story with lengthy narrative about different tv series he’s worked on and books he’s written, and what goes into researching for a book or script. The fact that he always wants to one-up Hawthorne, his need to be one step ahead, to grasp a fact that Hawthorne missed, the constant competition, got pretty tiring fairly quickly. Having said that, the writing was flawless, the characters well-drawn, the plot intriguing and complex, and I really learned alot about script-writing, particularly the creation of a fabulous British series, “Foyle’s War”, as Horowitz writes the scripts for it. This book reminded me a bit of Peter Robinson’s Before the Poison, whose main character is a film score composer from Hollywood who returns to the British countryside for some solitude, I think after the death of his wife, although it’s been a while since I read it. Anyway, it’s a bit of an inside view into the world of films and television, which is interesting if it isn’t overdone. This novel is slick, well-written, and interesting, with all the plot devices of a good mystery novel, including the cantankerous detective and plenty of red herrings and misdirections, but I found that the talk of tv series and the writing process made up more of the novel than was absolutely necessary. Having said that, it was easy to read and I finished it in just a few days. There’s something Horowitz says on page 330, when he’s talking about meeting with students to discuss film script writing and the relationship between screenwriter and actor: “There’s nothing a writer likes more than talking about writing.” That pretty much sums up this book. It’s a fun literary mystery, and you could do worse if you wanted a quick summer read.
I’m off on vacation now. Happy Reading!Bye for now…