Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on December 27, 2022
I genuinely do love this series , the ultimate in deliciously twisty and thoroughly entertaining meta-fiction, which, in this particular instance sees our author, and narrator, in a particularly sticky situation. This is a series about and author, Anthony Horowitz, who is commissioned to write up the investigations of former Detective, Daniel Hawthorne. Or at least, he was. A three book deal and all three books are now written. Hawthorne wishes to carry one, Horowitz less so. And so when he finds himself accused of murder and in need of Hawthornes help to prove his innocence … well you can just imagine how that conversation went.
This book is set very much in Anthony Horowitz’s world. A lot of the action surrounds the staging of his play, Mindgame, and its opening night at the Strand Theatre in London, an opening night which, despite completing a successful regional tour, received less than favourable reviews, including a particularly savage one from the books soon-to-be victim, Harriet Throsby. But surely there are far worse things than a bad review, right? Personally I’m often drawn to those plays and films that are critically panned, and they often turn out to become cult classics, so it’s certainly not anything you would expect someone to commit murder over. Unless you are Detective Inspector Grunshaw and DC Mills, two people who have their own reasons for holding a grudge against the author and his Detective friend, and who seem to delight in all the evidence pointing squarely in his direction.
This book is a wonderful mix of humour, character and mystery. From the cast and crew of the ill-fated Mindgame, to the Detectives who are hot on Anthony Horowitz’s trail, to the author himself and the wonderfully matter of fact Hawthorne, each person we meet adds a new dimension to the story. Some brilliantly exaggerated personalities (where I’m sure inspiration has been drawn from true life, even if the author can’t or won’t say where) and acute observations framed in some truly witty turns of phrase made this book an absolute delight to read. Each character, from the actors, to the director to the producer, appeared larger than life. A strange concoction of ego, vanity and enthusiasm, all enshrouded, to a degree, in a thin veil of secrecy. The whole concept of Mindgame (the play) was to unsettle the viewer, to subtly change and alter perception, something which was skilfully reflected in the way in which we viewed the various characters over the course of the investigation.
I tore through the book, finishing in just two days.
It sounds awful, but it was fun reading about the author’s misfortune ) I was, obviously, certain of his innocence and knowing that, eventually, Hawthorne would find his way to the truth, I was still completely intrigued as to which of the remaining production members might be responsible, if any of them actually were. Harriet’s relationship with her own family also seemed to leave a lot to be desired. The more we learned of them all, the clearer it became that any of them might have had a motive, but all seemingly had irrefutable alibis. And you always come back to the question of whether a bad review is really worth killing for or was there something far darker in play? There were plenty of surprise reveals, things I both had and hadn’t been expecting, but which drew us to a very fitting and satisfactory conclusion. Very Hercule Poirot in delivery.
This is the very best in ‘cozy crime’ if you have to label it that way. absolutely packed with red herrings and mystery that I find myself always wanting solve the mystery. I highly recommend this book I Loved it. But advice you start with the First title in the series The Word is Murder.