British crime just has an X factor for me. And combined with the talents of an author who writes scripts for ‘Midsummer Murders’ and Foyles War’, I felt fairly safe in Anthony Horowitz’s hands. For me, crime is about pacing. It has to be so finely tuned as to immediately engage without dumping me in too soon with ten characters whose names I have to scrabble around to remember in case they pop up 300 words later and turn out to be the killer. Annoying. Thankfully, this was not the case in ‘The Word is Murder’.
What set this book apart was the fact that it’s written in first person from the perspective of Anthony himself. He’s in between writing scripts when he gets a phone call from the detective they consult with on set to advise them of police procedurals. Anthony hasn’t ever warmed to this fellow but agrees to meet him for a coffee anyway. As random and awkward as it is. When Daniel Hawthorne (Detective) asks him to write his biography Anthony blanches. Not his thing. He writes fictional crime and scripts remember? But Anthony is curious despite himself and so ends up trailing Daniel for a day. Mistake. A woman has been strangled six hours after preparing and paying for her own funeral. Detective Daniel was in. Anthony was in. I was in. I loved the way he took me along for the caper and in doing so gave me an insight into his life as a writer as well as his own personality, the real person behind all the content.
The plot spun and spun again and with every new development I kept pace with Anthony, my questions were asked through his and each observation he made I was there clocking it alongside him. It was all in sync. Anthony and Daniel are an ‘odd couple’ of crime solvers but the relationship really worked. At times they antagonised each other (which was funny) but cobbled together a partnership of sorts. Daniel was always a few steps ahead in deduction and it was amusing and interesting to see Anthony try to psychologically keep up, thinking (due to all his crime script writing!) that he had identified this person or that as the killer. The action picked up pace, I was gripped and Anthony himself looked like he may be in mortal danger before it finished. Oh really? You want to know? Ok, the murderer is- No, I won’t. No spoilers here. But thankfully, Anthony didn’t spring a name on me that I had only heard of once, like 300 pages ago.
Reviewed by Belinda