In his smart and funny “Hawthorne and Horowitz” series of whodunnits, author Anthony Horowitz writes himself directly into the books, playing a bumbling, self-deprecating sidekick to the often gruff and sometimes mysterious, private detective Daniel Hawthorne. The results are three (so far) very readable and enjoyable crime novels, in which Hawthorne finds his killer and Horowitz documents the investigation along the way, hoping for his next bestseller.
In book 3, A Line to Kill, Horowitz (the character) is wanting to impress his editors and finally introduces them to Hawthorne, a move that backfires when both men are sent to an exclusive literary festival on Alderney, an idyllic island off the south coast of England. Horowitz is aghast that Hawthorne has been included, as Hawthorne hasn’t written a single word, but is happy enough to have the investigator along after a local bigwig is found dead under mysterious circumstances.
The island is locked down until the murderer is found, and the suspects include a bestselling children’s author, a French poet, a TV chef turned cookbook author, a blind psychic, and a war historian—along with a group of angry locals feuding over a planned power line that threatens to wreck the island’s ambiance and environment. Hawthorne finds himself enjoying the literary festival after all, and certainly won’t let anything stop him from finding the killer, not even the local cops who have never seen a dead body before.
These character rich mysteries are like modern day Agatha Christie novels -leisurely paced, rich in detail and plot points, along with plenty of dry humor that is often directed towards the world of books and writers. While A Line to Kill can be enjoyed on its own, I recommend first reading The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death. And then, like me, you’ll be eagerly waiting for the next in this original series.