Book Review: The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Title: The Sentence is Death

Publisher: Random House, Uk, Cornerstone Century

Date: 2018

Synopsis: ‘You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late…

These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise.

Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s really getting rather good at this murder investigation business.

But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realises that these secrets must be exposed – even at the risk of death…

The Word is Murder

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I enjoyed The Word is Murder, not only because it was a mystery that kept me guessing, but because of the narration style, the whole premise and because it made me start Googling Anthony Horowitz to find out what was true and what was just in the book. When I saw The Sentence is Death available, I jumped at the chance.

It did not disappoint: it was just as entertaining as the first.

It has the most unique narration I’ve ever come across. The author is the narrator/main character, but as himself. There’s enough that you know is true – Foyle’s War, a constant running gag of no one getting the name right for the Alex Rider books – that it makes the rest of it believable. I’ve read many books where I’ve been drawn in, but this style literally leaves me feeling like it actually happened.

Personally, I think this is partly because I know the locations. Being at King’s Cross Station, going to Farringdon – these are all parts of my daily commute and it’s the first time I’ve recognised road names and can actually place myself physically where the action is happening. This takes places in places I walk past every day.

I make up stories; I prefer not to follow them around town. More to the point, I like to be in control of my books. I had no wish to turn myself into a character, and a secondary one at that: the perennial sidekick.

The mystery itself is as good as the first – a classic ‘who-dun-it’ scenario. Having been completely caught off guard with the first book, I figured this time it wasn’t who I would expect. I knew it would be someone overlooked…but that didn’t mean I figured out who it was, or how the characters would unravel the mystery.

It’s tricky talking about the characters when you know one of them is real – and some of the information in the book is accurate. But I thoroughly enjoy how the characters are presented: Horowitz doesn’t make himself a genius at solving mysterious, or someone who doesn’t have doubts and insecurities. He makes himself average – not a genius, but not stupid either – which must actually be pretty hard to write.

I warmed to Hawthorne the first time – you can’t have such a main character (even if they are presented as dislikeable) and not warm to them as they, ultimately, save the day (and your favourite author!). You get more of a glimpse into his personal life this time, but just enough to tease – you still don’t truly know him and the snippets you get just make you more intrigued.

The secondary characters were fantastic. From the bullying detectives and their slimy assistants, to dramatic writers and privileged guys with a massive wine collection. Every character have their flaws – any of them would be capable of the murder and there’s no way of figuring it out.

The pace is steady, with enough dramatic moments scattered throughout that it keeps the tension strong. You get swept up in the mystery along with the characters and I really wanted to know who was guilty.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. It’s a fairly easy read and it’s nice having a murder mystery without anything graphic. Definitely recommended!

Goodreads | Amazon

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