The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz


The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz
Publisher: Arrow Books (Penguin Random House)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

“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 realizes that these secrets must be exposed—even at the risk of death . . .

This is the second book featuring the ex-Detective, now Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and much like the first book I found myself utterly absorbed. I still find it a little odd how the entire story is written in the first person perspective by Horowitz, in a semi Watson-following-after-Holmes sort of fashion. Horowitz has been contracted to write three books about Hawthorne solving various murders that the police find too baffling to solve on their own and this lends quite a different spin to a more standard murder mystery book. And while I often find the first person perspective to be difficult to read for some reason these books don’t seem as hard for me to follow along with.

Readers will be glad that this book stands alone very well. Hawthorne and Horowitz aren’t best buddies or even particularly friendly outside of their crime-solving escapades and so I really don’t think there is much missed from book to book. And with the characters and plot explained very clearly this helps the book feel very much as a standalone story so I think readers should be happy to pick this up without needing to read the previous story.

While the story has an overall feeling slightly to me of Sherlock/Watson this book is very much a modern murder mystery, and I can never really tell if it’s just my imagination that makes the links between Hawthorne and Sherlock or if the faint echoes are there on purpose from the author. Readers who enjoy non-standard characters and enjoy a bit of conflict should really feel this suits their tastes. At times I wished we could have seen more of Hawthorne’s perspective – but the mystique surrounding the character really is a large part of the draw I expect, so again the first person perspective of Horowitz (while limiting in my personal opinion) simply adds to the drama and mystery of the ex-detective.

With a good plot, steady pacing and enough false trails and red herrings to keep even the most dedicated mystery reader guessing this is a good book and a solid read I feel that should appeal to many readers.