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BOOK REVIEW:

A line to kill : a novel

In 2018, readers discovered the first book in Anthony Horowitz’s new Hawthorne & Horowitz mystery series: The Word is Murder. In it, disgraced Detective Inspector Daniel Hawthorne is asked by Scotland Yard to consult on a case and he, in turn, approaches television writer Anthony Horowitz with a proposition: shadow him while he solves the mystery, and then write everything into a novel. Horowitz, a version of the author, 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 regarding this decision, even as he goes on to follow Hawthorne as he investigates the murder of a celebrity-divorce attorney who was found bludgeoned to death with a £3,000 bottle of wine in their second case together, The Sentence is Death. Now the pair are back to solve another mystery in A Line to Kill.   

As the first collaborative effort between Horowitz and Hawthorne is nearing publication, their publisher receives an invitation for the two to attend the inaugural literary festival on Alderney, a small island just off the southern coast of England. While Horowitz normally enjoys attending these types of gatherings, he wonders how Hawthorne will respond to the request. Unexpectedly, Hawthorne agrees enthusiastically. Soon, the two men are making their way to the festival for a quiet literary weekend. Everything is going well, until the first murder victim is discovered. . .

In  A Line to Kill, his third Hawthorne & Horowitz outing, Anthony Horowitz sends his fictional doppelganger, along with former Detective Inspector, now Private Investigator, Daniel Hawthorne to a small literary festival. Horowitz has populated the festival with the required group of interesting potential suspects : a children’s author, a French performance artist and poet, a television chef who has written his first cookbook, a blind psychic, a WWII historian, the festival organizer, who is married to the leader of the committee overseeing a contentious power project for the island, a husband and wife team who own/operate online gambling sites and are the festival’s sponsors, and a person from Hawthorne’s past, who was instrumental in his leaving Scotland Yard.

Setting the location on a small island, Horowitz exploits the small town/village trope of the residents knowing everyone else (and everyone else’s business) while the local police are woefully unprepared for dealing with a murder, which has never happened before on the island. The result is a set of circumstances that will challenge Hawthorne and Horowitz in ways readers have not yet experienced. It also provides Horowitz the opportunity to learn more about Hawthorne, who has always been particularly tight-lipped about himself and his past. Each new book in the series provides just a bit more information about Hawthorne. While readers will get some questions answered, others will be raised regarding the mysterious detective.  

Horowitz, the real one and not his fictional counterpart, has created a riveting combination of golden-age whodunit and contemporary concerns, sensibilities and motivations. The result is a page turner that will leave readers anxious for the next installment in the series.

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