The Word Is Mur­der

USA TODAY US Edition - - LIFE -

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.

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