Monday 16 August 2021


Book review: A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz

I have shared my love for Anthony Horowitz' books throughout the years. I grew up reading Alex Rider and Power of Five, and in more recent years I've discovered his adult novels. All of these are hugely gripping, packed with clever stories I can't get enough of. One of my favourite newer series is the Hawthorne and Horowitz mysteries, in which he plants himself at the heart of a whodunnit. And the third instalment, which can be read as a stand-alone too, will be published this week.

After The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death, Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and writer Anthony Horowitz are reluctantly reunited. Horowitz has written about his previous adventures with the PI, and the two are invited to appear at a literary festival on the island of Alderney.

Where Horowitz is a pro when it comes to bookish festivals – both in real life and within the pages of his books – Hawthorne is a less so. In fact, he tries to avoid people where he can, and so the author is concerned that the detective will not accept the invite. Or, worse, he might accept it and then ruin the event with his lack of manners. Horowitz needn't have worried, however, as Hawthorne is surprisingly eager to join. Not only that, but he's actually charming once they arrive on the island.

All seems to go very swimmingly, until someone gets murdered...

I adore this series and the characters. Hawthorne is very much a modern Sherlock Holmes, someone with no people skills but immaculate observational ones. And Horowitz plays the bumbling sidekick extremely well. Taking notes, like Watson would, but painting himself in a far less flattering light, more often obstructing an investigation instead of contributing to it.

Like the previous books in the series, the author perfectly blends facts with fiction, as the reader gets pulled into the world of literary events. A particular delight for avid readers, not only is the story an incredibly well-plotted murder mystery, but it also lifts the curtain on the publishing world, with fascinating behind-the-scenes snippets along the way.

Despite the less-than-joyful mystery at the heart of the story – there has been a murder after all – the book is incredibly fun to read. The red herrings, the twists and turns, and, mostly, the fictional Horowitz's complete cluelessness along the way. He makes the reader feel better about themselves as they are able to put one-and-one together, figuring out the clues, before he does.

You'll notice I've given very little away about the actual contents of this book and that is on purpose. When it comes to an intricately woven plot like a clever murder mystery, every storyline and every character can be a clue to the inevitable jaw-dropping conclusion. I do not inadvertently want to give away any spoilers, so instead I'm sticking to safer territory: the two characters we already know from the previous books and the general joyous energy of this series.

What I can say is that A Line to Kill is another smartly written whodunnit, one that will have readers on the edge of their seat throughout. It's filled with a cast of eclectic characters, is surprisingly funny at times, and is absolutely brilliantly put together. Whether you solve the mystery before the characters do, or you fall for the wealth of red herrings along the way, you'll be in for one hell of a ride.

'A Line to Kill'
by Anthony Horowitz will be published by Cornerstone on 19 August 2021, and you can preorder your copy now from your favourite book shop.

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

If you like the Hawthorne and Horowitz mysteries...

As a special treat, I wanted to include a bonus review for Anthony Horowitz's other murder mysteries that everyone MUST check out: The Susan Ryeland series. I recently read both books released (so far), and they were some of the best I have ever come across!

Once again set in the world of publishing, this time around the protagonist is an editor. In the first book we join editor Susan Ryeland by reading the latest manuscript of her author Alan Conway's Atticus Pünd series (which very much reads like a Hercule Poirot). It's a brilliant, old-fashioned whodunnit, and as a reader I got completely sucked into this clever murder mystery. But just before the end, Horowitz switches to a contemporary tale and Susan is suddenly at the heart of her own murder mystery. And the clues to the killer may just be in the Atticus Pünd novel she was just editing...

The book-within-a-book format is done incredibly well, and the novel as a whole is hugely complex and fascinating, while at the same time playing a wonderful homage to Agatha Christie.

I loved the first book, Magpie Murders, and immediately read the second one, Moonflower Murders, too. It follows a similar structure, with both a contemporary story and an Atticus Pünd murder mystery within it revealing clues.

Moonflower Murders is extremely chunky, because technically speaking it's two books within one, and I still finished it within just a few days as it was so compelling I couldn't stop. I'm seriously in awe of Horowitz's marvellous storytelling, the word plays, and the fact that he is able to write such distinct stories, one feeling like an Agatha Christie and one being a contemporary murder mystery, at the same time.

I, for one, hope this isn't the last we've heard of Susan Ryeland and Atticus Pünd.

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