Published by Century
Publication date – 1 November 2018
Source – review copy
‘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…
Divorce solicitor Richard Pryce has been found dead, killed by an eye-wateringly expensive bottle of wine, the irony being Richard was teetotal. The number 182 was daubed in paint on the wall behind him. What does the number mean? Who was Richard talking to when he was overheard saying ‘It’s too late’? PI Daniel Hawthorne has been called in by a baffled police force, much to the chagrin of Cara Grumshaw. Can Hawthorne, and his biographer Anthony, work out whodunit, and can Anthony work out the mystery that is Daniel Hawthorne?
I’d not read the first book in this series, Murder is the Word, so I was somewhat thrown off-balance initially when I realised the narrator was Anthony Horowitz. In fact I had to go back and checked I hadn’t missed an introduction. But I soon got used the slightly surreal mix of reality and fiction and found it worked. Very well.
The main thing I got from this book was the sense of fun. It was fun to read, to get caught up in and I got the impression that the author had fun writing it too. Anthony is a Watson to Hawthorne’s Holmes, albeit a bit more bumbling. Hawthorne is a bit of an enigma. The reader seems to know little about him, as much as Anthony knows, and that’s not a lot, despite much effort on Anthony’s part. No doubt cracks will appear in the steely persona of Hawthorne as the series progresses.
Hawthorne is a mysterious, taciturn character, who wants to keep ‘Tony’ at arms length but allows a book, and now another, to be written about him. The police officers Grumshaw and Mills are suitably menacing and hapless and all of the suspects are suitably suspicious, hiding things far better from Tony than they do from Hawthorne. There’s the husband who was conveniently away that weekend, the former client who had nothing but good things to say about the man who helped him divorce . There’s the divorced wife, who has plenty to hate Pryce for, and was seen threatening him with a bottle of wine of all things. As the story develops so does the list of suspects and the clues are littered to be sifted through and rejected.
The mystery is engaging, a cleverly plotted, very witty, whodunit worthy of the detective skills of Poirot or Holmes, both of whom Anthony Horowitz has recreated on TV and paper respectively. The story is littered with clues and red herrings and though I had guessed the culprit, it wasn’t until right before the big reveal.
Whilst this is the second in the series this is easily read as a standalone. As said above, I’ve not read the first novel but I didn’t feel as if I’d missed out on key issues by starting part way through the series. In fact I found myself flying through the pages.
This to me is a Sunday afternoon read. By that I mean it’s perfect to curl up with and gives you that cosy feeling of a sunday night in with a good crime series TV episode (even Poirot perhaps?).
A fun, engaging, throughly entertaining novel. I enjoyed it immensely. I’m already looking forward to the next in the series. Recommended.
About the author
ANTHONY HOROWITZ is the author of the bestselling teen spy series, Alex Rider, and is also responsible for creating and writing some of the UK’s most loved and successful TV series, including Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War. He has also written two highly acclaimed Sherlock Holmes novels, The House of Silk and Moriarty; Two James Bond novels, Trigger Mortis and Forever and a Day; His previous thrillers Magpie Murders and The Word is Murder were both Top Ten Sunday Times bestsellers. He is on the board of the Old Vic Theatre, and was awarded an OBE for his services to literature in January 2014. The Sentence is Death is the second in a series of crime novels starring Detective Daniel Hawthorne.