The Word Is Murder

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jan 2018

Member Reviews

I admit it: I’ve never read Alex Rider. But I did come across Anthony Horowitz as a young teenager with his Gatekeeper series. It was one of the first series that got me into the idea of fantasy and a select few having powers. It’s been an inspiration in my own writing.

When I saw this come up on Netgalley, I jumped at the chance. I adored his writing style and wanted to see if that was still true. Not only because I’m older, but because he is writing for an adult audience this time, not a children’s one.

Oh my word. It has been a long time since I’ve been this invested in a book. I loved it.

The plot is good (I’ll get onto that later) but it’s the narration that makes this book genius. Horowitz inserts himself as one of the main characters. But not by trying to rename himself and pretend it’s not him: the book is written in an almost-autobiography way. He – Anthony Horowitz, the writer – is part of the book as himself – as Anthony Horowitz, the writer.

The idea is that he has been approached to write about a detective’s life but in doing so, gets drawn into the latest murder investigation taking place. But there is enough information scattered throughout that you know is true about him, so it’s easy to believe the rest of it is also happening. I’ve been drawn into murder mysteries before, but never to the point where you want to Google something to find out if it actually happened or not.

What partly really captivated me is that I admire him as a writer anyway. I don’t like biographies, but he would be someone that I would read one from. As an inspiring author as well, the snippets about his working progress and those small details genuinely interested me as well as the actual plot.

The other characters – the totally fictional ones (I think) – worked. Hawthorne is a cold and dismissive man, but you start to warm to him as the book progresses, just as Horowitz does. The suspects are well developed with their own motives and the killer – once revealed – is scary in how far s/he has gone to commit the murders.

Even without the unique narration style, the plot itself would have kept me gripped. A murder opens up something a lot bigger, with various suspects all with their own motives. There is misdirection, tension and an effective building of suspense that kept you hooked. I couldn’t guess who was responsible and the twists along the way revealed things you didn’t see coming. There was only one thing that I picked up on and was actually right about. Not many mysteries can do that.

Whether you are a fan of Horowitz or not, this book is thoroughly entertaining. If you like murder mysteries, then I definitely recommend this. If you just want something good to read, then I would also suggest adding it to the pile.
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This is an innovative page-turner that displays Anthony Horowitz's skill in its full glory. The format makes this a very hard book to describe but I'd definitely recommend it to those readers who like to use their brainpower to engage with a murder mystery. You won't be disappointed!
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This is easily the most interesting fast paced work of fiction I have read this year. Just when you think you know how the story will pan out, it takes a different turn.
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My thanks to Random House U.K./Cornerstone for an ARC of this novel via NetGalley and my apologies for the late feedback. This was due to vision problems, that have recently been resolved. 

This novel has such an unusual premise in the author serving as its narrator and sidekick to Hawthorne, the main detective. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first. However, thinking of Horowitz’s work on the Sherlock Holmes official sequel, isn’t this a postmodern take on Watson’s role? All authors are the invisible gods of their created worlds and here Horowitz has just made this obvious; inserting himself and breaking the literary fourth wall.

Details of Horowitz’s real life, such as his work on the Tintin sequel, are woven into the narrative.  His skills at storytelling are very evident and elements were quite playful.

No spoilers on the plot but it proved a very satisfying whodunnit. Found it very hard to put down.  Overall a very good.
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LOVED IT.
Horowitz remains one of my favourite authors - this was gripping and fast paced. Fantastic writing, as usual and hooked me in, even though I don't read much crime fiction.
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**Reviewed for Euro Crime by Terry Halligan.

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz, April 2018, 400 pages, Arrow, ISBN: 1784757233

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

I read this book for review purposes but now that I've finished it it is very difficult to describe it as it is unlike anything that I've read ever before. The author, Anthony Horowitz, is famous for writing the 'Alex Rider' books and also for the marvellous scripts and executive production of the highly recommended Foyle's War TV series, but writing a one-off murder mystery, that masquerades as a non-fiction, true story is a very different kettle of fish.

The plot is extremely unusual: an extremely wealthy woman arranges her own funeral and then some hours later, she is murdered! Did she know she was destined to die? Who killed her and why? An unemployed former detective decides to investigate her death and as he is short of money he decides to write a book about the investigation and asks the author Anthony Horowitz to do the actual writing as he has successfully written books before. The former detective, who is named Hawthorne, and Horowitz frequently argue over the investigation, but when they aren't talking about the enquiry into the woman's death and the possible perpetrators, Horowitz talks about his own writing career and his success with the Foyle's War and 'Alex Rider' books. As this book is told in the first person from the point of view of Anthony Horowitz I found this extensive discussion of the writing experience very interesting.

The actual details of the murder mystery were a bit light but what we got instead was the Anthony Horowitz writing experience which I found very entertaining but this may not be what other readers may want and I appreciate this. Perhaps a more usual plot structure with more details of the crime and investigation and then a satisfactory conclusion would be preferred, rather than these perhaps irrelevant descriptions of the author's previous books.

On the whole I was very impressed with the book because it was so unusual with this mixture of the fiction of the plot and Anthony Horowitz's real writing career. I enjoy writers talking about themselves and the problems they have, as well as reading good crime fiction and I therefore recommend this book.

Terry Halligan, July 2018.
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Too arrogant to be enjoyable. Written from the perspective of the author listing all his writing successes before even getting to the point of the story, This book begins as a back-slapping cv for Horowitz which had me deleting it before the end of chapter 3.
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I read this book because I'd never read Anthony Horowitz before. I remember the aclsim when he was chosen to write a new Sherlock Holmes novel, but thought he didn't write things in my area of interest.
Oh he is clever.  At the opening of the book he describes the scene
 “The funeral parlor Cornwallis and son … name in classical font on the front and side.The  two inscriptions prevented from meeting. by a Victorian clock above the door.”

At once I knew exactly the genre, era and style. But it wasn't. Instead Hawthorne, the former policeman who has chosen the author to record his exploits proceeds to critique the prose and haggles over every term.

The author then refers to his earlier writing for Doyle’s War.  This I know to be true.  So enjoyed the next “factual” section with Speilberg and co.  And once again, I fell into the trap of thinking fiction was fact.
Meanwhile there's a rattling good murder story galloping along, with several nudges which deliciously confuse.
Right at the very end ..he did it again and I fell for it again!
I really do recommend the book, it is not predictable and keeps you on your toes!
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I wonder if most writers would love to star in their own work? I am sure they do. Well this time, Anthony Horowitz has actually achieved it. He is the author and the sidekick, in his latest novel. The Word Is Murder is a clever Sherlock Holmes style mystery, staring the author himself. All in all, we get a weird and rather delightful twist on the genre. This is my kind of story.

We all should know Anthony Horowitz. I suspect we have all seen some of his television work. I must admit to being a Foyle’s War fan. I’ve also seen the odd episode of other things he has written. He has an impressive back catalogue. In A Word Is Murder, we get to know him on a whole new level. Or the fictionalised version of him. We see that he hobnobs with the likes of Steven Spielburg and appears at literary festivals. Horowitz gets drawn into a mystery, a rather odd little tale. Diana Cowper goes into a local undertakers and arranges her own funeral. Later that day, she is murdered. The police bring in a consultant to help them with this unusual case. It is ex-copper, Hawthorne, who is very much a Sherlock Holmes style character. With a single glance, Hawthorne can read people. Hawthorne wants his cases to be recorded and he brings in Horowitz, as a kind of biographer. Hawthorne and Horowitz investigate. They bicker. Horowitz tries to write. It is all very surreal, incredibly witty and a hoot to read.

This was a joy to read. I can not remember the last time I read a book, with a massive grin on my face. The humour is just superb and very British. It feels like an old fashioned Agatha Christie crime novel. Yet at the same time, we can tell it is modern day England, with all its up to date forensics and gadgetry. The author is very much paying homage to Sherlock Holmes; Hawthorne and Horowitz feel like a modern Sherlock Holmes and Watson. He blends fact and fiction, to the point where you don’t know what is real.

Thank you for recording your adventures with Hawthorne, Mr Horowitz. You did a fabulous job. We all love it! We want more!

Anyone who is slightly jaded with the crime genre should seek The Word Is Murder out. It is a massive showcase of the wonderful talents of Anthony Horowitz (author). It all felt incredibly real. Murder, with a dash of something unique and special.

Highly recommended.
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Never before have I read a novel in which the author is one of the main characters. What a clever idea! A short way into the book, I began to think that perhaps the book is actually a biography. I was impressed, as I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, finding it dry and often slow moving, This book is anything but. It is fast paced, exciting and I could not put it down! I checked on the internet and was surprised to see that the book is, indeed, fiction. I don’t know much about Anthony Horowitz, other than that he is a well known author of children’s books and I am very interested to know how much of the book actually is biographical and how much is pure fiction. An excellent read. Highly recommended. Thanks to Random House UK Cornerstone and NetGalley for the ARC.
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This is the second Horowitz book I’ve read this year, having previously enjoyed Magpie Murders. This is another unusual set-up; though it’s a work of fiction, Horowitz inserts himself as a character into the story. The character in the story is approached by a former detective, who is working as a consultant on a murder, and wants a book written about it. It may seem gimmicky, but it really worked for me. The murder mystery itself was compelling, and kept me guessing – all in all an enjoyable read!
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From his work on Foyle’s War, Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie’s Poirot to his Alex Rider, Sherlock Holmes and James Bond novels, Anthony Horowitz sure knows how to keep us gripped, which is why we can’t wait for the first book in his brand new detective series to be released. It’s the very definition of a page turner and a work of absolute genius – so we can’t wait for you to read it.
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Different to any other Anthony Horowitz book I’ve read, this book blurs the lines between reality and fiction by making the author become the protagonist and interact directly with the other characters. Whilst the murder mystery continues to be engaging throughout, I had my doubts about the main characters and am not sure that I fully connected with the way the story was being told. Nevertheless, Horowitz is a supreme storyteller and I always look forward to reading his new material.

*Full review available on the blog*
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I found this book completely immersive. It was a quick read that made me question just how much truth was in the story and I would definitely recommend it.
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This was my first book by Horowitz I read, and I wasn’t crazy about it. It was good at times, thrilling and exciting, but at other times it felt predictable and sometimes a bit easy and simple in the plot. The story was interesting in the way that the author himself was involved in the story. Basically we see this crime through the eyes of Anthony Horowitz himself. We see the process of writing a true crime book and the troubles with finding a way to make it a good book.

The best part of the book was after the midsection of the book. The story got a nice pace then and the plot came together more. Secrets were revealed and little hints were given. I flew through that part of the book. The beginning of the book wasn’t slow, but didn’t capture my interest for a while. We got a bit of the murder, but also the story of Horowitz and his writing of the book. I found the part about Horowitz talking about writing the book and his side projects not so interesting. It sometimes came over as a a way to show off everything he gets to do in life. Meeting Spielberg and tv shows he gets to write for. The end of the book felt too much. For me, the book felt like a mix between fiction and reality. Suddenly we got a whole action ‘plottwist’ with the classic getting-captured-and-almost-die scene. It felt too easy for me and didn’t really fit in the way the book was written.

The whole murder story felt predictable to me. Even though I didn’t know everything that was going on and didn’t see every hint, I didn’t feel very surprised about the way the solving of the murder was going. The WOW-moment just wasn’t there. I did like how the whole story about the twins got together eventually. The story became more of a whole with the revealing of the twins’ story, which felt like the right time because the story felt like it was getting stuck before that and the author didn’t know what to do.

Some of the characters in this book were interesting. I found the detective an interesting man, though a bit obvious. Mysterious, surprising life interests, family issues etc. Looks like he doesn’t care, but does. There also were some characters that felt unnecessary. For me it immediately felt like those were the characters to get you sidetracked and to mislead you .
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Must be one of the best books of its kind in recent years. Everything is so captivating, gripping - total page turner!and you don’t know what’s real and what not which makes it all the more interesting. Horowitz always gets it right!!
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Just brilliant! I was shattered when I realised this was only an extract. Can't wait to read more - I'm hooked!
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The arrogance of this book annoyed me. I thought I would enjoy it as the premise (real author inserting himself into a crime thriller) was good, but I found Horowitz just comes off looking like a dick when he brags about meetings with Spielburg, goes on and on about how many things he's written for TV and badmouths a fictional (perhaps) character - did he create an asshole character because that's what it takes to make himself look good, or because he wanted an excuse to be an ass in a novel? 
Anyway, the story revolves around the strange death of a rich widow, and the crime (and the investigation) is quite well rendered, but unfortunately takes a backseat to Horowitz' posturing. I wouldn't bother.
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So this took me a bit of time to find enough time to sit down and really get into it.  It's really quite meta, a detective novel with its real life author as the narrator and central character, with real life stuff peppered throughout.

Once I'd given it enough time to work out what was going on, I raced through it and really enjoyed it.  It's a modern-day Sherlock mystery, complete with enigmatic but grump detective.  Really fun.
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A little while after arranging her own funeral a woman is murdered. 

This is a spectacular tale and can only be done in the way that Horowitz does. It is just terrific.

I love his writing style and the voice in my head while reading brings his books to life, so descriptive and beautiful, he really is a master storyteller.

This murder mystery is filled with drama and fabulous characters. It is original and brilliant. 

recommended
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