Mystery Review: The Sentence is Death, Anthony Horowitz (2018/2019)



So far I had missed three clues and misconstrued two more. Things were only going to get worse. - Anthony Horowitz

The second in Anthony Horowitz's self-referential series, featuring himself as a writer who is documenting the investigations of disgraced ex-cop Daniel Hawthorne, The Sentence is Death is another stellar outing from Horowitz.


Beginning with a rough day on the set of Foyle's War (if you haven't watched this, queue it up on Netflix, pronto, and then come back in, oh, three or four days), this installment follows Hawthorne and Horowitz as they investigate the murder of Richard Pryce, a high end divorce lawyer. Pryce has been murdered with the shards of a bottle of very expensive wine given to him by a satisfied client, the number 182 painted in green on the wall next to his body.


There are several suspects - a literary author going through a divorce who threatened Pryce, various relatives of two men who were killed during a caving accident that Pryce was involved in, his partner. There are chases, grumpy teenagers, tea, alibis, stolen books, clocks set to the wrong time, muck-ups at Foyle's War (I've always heard Michael Kitchen was brilliant but difficult), and more suspicious deaths - though, of course, Horowitz and Hawthorne must pause their investigation so that Horowitz can attend Hawthorne's book club (A Study in Scarlet is the book of the evening).


As was the case with the also-excellent The Word is Murder, Horowitz weaves in some truth from his experiences as a writer, a tricky mystery that's just fair enough for the reader to work out the solution. There are some fun Sherlock Holmes references throughout the book, as befits someone like Horowitz, who wrote a couple of novels based around Holmes. Hawthorne is becoming slightly less objectionable, and Horowitz remains, delightfully, clever but not too clever to be a Watson through to the very end.


The Sentence is Death is one of the best mystery novels I've read so far in 2019, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to the third and likely final novel of this planned three book deal, and am now left wondering what writing words he'll continue with next (The Paragraph Is ...? The Chapter Is ...? The Book Is ...???)


Overall: 4 1/2 Sherlocks, with an honorary Sherlock for the Holmesian nature of the puzzle.

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