The Word is Murder: A Review

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SHE PLANNED HER OWN FUNERAL. BUT DID SHE ARRANGE HER MURDER?

A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she’s arranged her own funeral.
A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own.
A reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control.

What do they have in common?

A huge thank you to Harper Books for sending me an advanced copy of The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz in exchange for an honest review.

When I found out that I was going to get a copy of Horowitz’s newest mystery I knew that I needed to move his previous mystery novel The Magpie Murders up my TBR.  I had heard nothing but rave reviews for The Magpie Murders but I still had not gotten around to reading it.  I was determined to at least have one of his books read before I began The Word is Murder.  I wanted to have a sense of his style….which I was already sure I was going to love.  I listened to The Magpie Murders on Audible and devoured.  It actually got me through the experience of raking dead grass clippings in my yard.  I was extremely grateful to the brilliant narration and engaging story because it made a tedious task bearable.

I will discuss The Magpie Murders briefly before going into The Word is Murder.  Anthony Horowitz is bloody brilliant when it comes to writing original and engrossing murder mysteries.  The Magpie Murders  essentially pays homage to Agatha Christie; it truly is a love letter to Christie.  The fictional detective Atticus Pund is a German Sherlock Holmes….without the drug habit. Here is a synopsis of The Magpie Murders.

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

I absolutely love Agatha Christie.  In fact I have purposely not read all of her books because I never want to live in a world in which I no longer have Agatha Christie to read.  Now that I have read and experienced Anthony Horowitz’s writing style I now have his books to enjoy.  I am sure I am not alone in feeling this way but my favorite mystery authors are Agatha Christie and, now, Anthony Horowitz.

Back to The Word is Murder.  This is novel is ingenious.  Anthony Horowitz has masterfully constructed an original mystery…in which famous author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz is a main character.  That is correct.  Horowitz is the narrator of his newest book.  When I realized that Horowitz wrote himself into his newest release I was very skeptical.  In fact I may have cringed to myself thinking “how can he pull that off?”  This is a challenging writing exercise to say the list and Horowitz makes it seem effortless.  Horowitz succeeds admirably in crafting an engaging mystery that keeps you guessing while at the same time writing himself into the story without coming across as egocentric.  I truly cannot think of another author who would be able to pull that off.

The Word is Murder introduces Detective Daniel Hawthorne to the mystery world.  Hawthorne is the sort of fictional character that you love to hate.  In The Magpie Murders private detective Atticus Pund is clearly based off of Sherlock Holmes however he shares the art of detection.  Daniel Hawthorne also shares the art of detection but also possesses the annoying and despicable characteristics of Sherlock Holmes.  Atticus Pund is both admirable and talented.  Daniel Hawthorn is deplorable at times and talented.  Both detectives are memorable.

As is true with Agatha Christie’s mysteries, I have not been one step ahead of Horowitz’s mysteries. No matter how slowly I read them.  No matter how hard I try to think like a detective and try to look past the obvious I do not ever see myself being able to figure out whodunit by the story’s end.  That is what makes Anthony Horowitz this generation’s Christie and Doyle.  Who knows how to perfectly construct a murder mystery while at the same time taking it one step forward.  In Magpie Murders it is featuring a murder novel within a mystery.  In The Word is Murder he effortlessly narrates a fictional mystery as himself.  Christie and Doyle gave the world the whodunit.  Horowitz is giving the world a stylistic whodunit with a creative edge.  Well done Mr. Horowitz.

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz will be released on June 5th!

 

 

 

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