The Word Is Murder
By Anthony Horowitz Harper, 400 pp.
a spring morning, a London woman enters a funeral parlor and arranges her own service. By nightfall, she’s dead. That’s the irresistible setup of this irresistible novel, narrated by “Anthony Horowitz,” a fictional version of the creator of the beloved TV series “Foyle’s War.” This fairly credulous Horowitz hesitantly agrees to write the murdered woman’s story from the perspective of Daniel Hawthorne, freelance investigator and ingenious, irascible sod. This is the most reliable pairing in crime fiction, the eccentric genius and the awed bystander to it – Holmes and Watson, Salander and Blomkvist, Poirot and Hastings – and the real Horowitz, lurking backstage, plays it perfectly. His imagination is as crowded and various as a boy’s sea chest, filled with codes, crossed-out patterns, red herrings and pranks; his solution is, though a little melodramatic, at once a blinding surprise and totally fitting. What can’t this supremely versatile writer (“Magpie Murders”) do? It might be a while before we find out.