Hello, I’m back. It’s been almost a week, which perhaps isn’t too long, but it’s been a terribly long one thanks to a decline in my mental health. I’ve got a lot of reviews to catch up on and I’m very excited to see if anyone else has any thoughts on these books.
Now, on to the text at hand!
I was a little apprehensive about reading another Horowitz novel so soon after the disappointment of Magpie Murders. However, I can happily state that it’s a definite improvement. I wouldn’t say that it’s Horowitz at his best though; it’s no Alex Rider novel.
The novel has an interesting opening – between the first and second chapters we move from the traditional third-person narrative of a thriller to a first-person perspective in the second. The thrill lies in Horowitz himself being the narrator. Here’s where we first delve into Horowitz the character versus Horowitz the author. It felt like a throwback to my days at University writing about Dante the pilgrim versus Dante the author.
The novel had little chance of seeming original given that I was raised on Castle. That’s not a bad thing though. There was some warmth and nostalgia there, and Horowitz is far less self-centred in comparison to Richard Castle. Although Castle’s dramas are much more exciting and the team he works with are much more personable.
It was quite obvious from the beginning of the novel that the female audience member knew Hawthorne in some capacity and was there to be the tool to enabling the novel. Throughout the novel, Horowitz felt a need to wrap up every detail and that’s not always for the best. It can lead to laziness.
I’m not sure why homophobia needed to be wound into the book. It certainly didn’t contribute to Hawthorne’s character except to make him more dislikeable. I also found a disdain for Horowitz forming as he had characters continue to associate a homophobe with being gay. Horowitz might have called Hawthorne out, but it felt like an act of service aimed to tell LGBT readers ‘look, I’m an ally!’ rather than as a genuine expression of support. As a device, it was useless.
There were also a few issues with the timeline. The novel is set after the publication of The House of Silk and the murder happened 9 years and 11 months ago, setting the date in 2001. However, Damian and others mention that the incident happened in his second year at RADA and that he graduated in 1999. It makes no sense.
The ending of the novel might as well have been lifted from Castle though. It felt tired. The author beats the detective to the perp and would surely die had the perp not taken an immeasurable amount of time to explain the lengths that they’ve gone to secure revenge. This lengthy scene provides just enough time for the knight in shining armour, the much less charming Hawthorne (versus Kate Beckett) to arrive and save the author’s ass.
Come on, Anthony. You can do so much better.
Overall though, it was readable and I mostly enjoyed it. I hope that the next book is an improvement as this is something that Horowitz could easily grow into.
I’m still a little puzzled as to why there was a mix of capital and lower-case letters making up ‘THe WOrD is murDer’. If anyone can explain that, I’d be happy to hear from you.
Tonight I’m attending a talk with Horowitz for Jewish Book Week at King’s Place. He’s going to be discussing the follow up to this novel – The Sentence is Death – so look out for both a review of the talk and the novel later this week!
If any of you are attending let me know as I’m going on my own.