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BOOK REVIEW:

The Sentence is Death

Call Number: 
M

In 2018, readers discovered the first book in Anthony Horowitz’s new mystery series: The Word is Murder. In it, a wealthy woman enters a London funeral parlor in the morning to make her final arrangements. She is found in her home, murdered, six hours later. When disgraced Detective Inspector Daniel Hawthorne is asked to consult on the case, he approaches television writer Anthony Horowitz with a proposition: shadow him while he solves the mystery, and then write everything up into a novel. Horowitz resists. He doesn’t really care much for Hawthorne, and it certainly isn’t how he works when writing. But the case on which Hawthorne is working is simply too intriguing to pass up. Horowitz agrees, although he questions himself repeatedly why he ever agreed to work with Hawthorne.

Horowitz wrote up the case and gave it to his publisher, who offered him a contract to do two more books with Hawthorne. Now Hawthorne is back and with another case: celebrity-divorce attorney Richard Pryce was just found dead in his home. He was bludgeoned to death with a £3,000 bottle of wine ($3,900 in US dollars). This is odd. Pryce didn’t drink. And why would anyone murder someone using an expensive bottle of wine? Also, why did the killer paint a three digit number on the wall? And, most importantly, which of Pryce’s many, many enemies would have been motivated to murder him? The only way for Horowitz to find out is, again, to shadow Hawthorne.

In The Sentence is Death, acclaimed television and mystery writer Horowitz guides his fictional double through another murder investigation, and it is as much fun this time as it was the last. Former Detective Inspector, now Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne is the gift to mystery readers that keeps on giving. Brilliant, but socially inept and clearly keeping his own secrets close to the vest, Hawthorne is a reimagining of Sherlock Holmes for contemporary readers (with Horowitz casting himself in the role of Hawthorne’s Watson). Hawthorne can be infuriating and myopic, while also simultaneously seeming guileless and sincere. He is a cluster of knots that Horowitz will clearly be untangling over the course of this new series, and there is no question that readers will want to watch as Horowitz, and his fictional doppelganger, tug at those cords.

The mystery presented is top notch, the writing is sharp, the humor is wickedly pointed and the resolution is more than satisfying. For regular readers of mystery fiction, there are a lot of references to classic mystery literature – as there were in The Word is Murder and Horowitz’s Magpie Murders – adding a level of enjoyment for those who catch the references, but they are handled in such a way that those who are not classic mystery readers will not feel in any way left out. This series is off to a marvelous start!

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