Book Review: The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz (Hawthorne & Horowitz, 2)

The Sentence is Death is the second novel in the Hawthorne series by British author Anthony Horowitz. Published in 2018, it follows the first book, The Word is Murder, and continues the adventures of Horowitz’s fictionalized version of himself and his enigmatic partner, private investigator Daniel Hawthorne. In this installment, Horowitz and Hawthorne investigate the murder of a divorce lawyer who has been bludgeoned to death with a bottle of wine in his own home.

Horowitz’s writing is both engaging and witty, and he expertly blends fact and fiction to create a seamless and intriguing narrative. He masterfully weaves together various threads of the story, incorporating red herrings and plot twists that keep the reader on their toes until the very end.

The character development in The Sentence is Death is exceptional. Horowitz’s depiction of Hawthorne is especially fascinating, as he is simultaneously abrasive and charming, with an air of mystery that leaves the reader guessing at his true motives. Horowitz himself is a likable and relatable protagonist, providing a fresh perspective on the story.

The novel’s pacing is just right, with the tension building gradually until the final reveal. Horowitz’s prose is intelligent and engaging, and his wit and humor make the story enjoyable to read. The author also includes several metafictional elements, such as references to his own work and real-life events, which add an extra layer of depth and interest to the story.

One of the standout features of The Sentence is Death is Horowitz’s attention to detail. His descriptions of London and its inhabitants are vivid and immersive, creating a rich and vibrant setting for the story to unfold. He also incorporates real-life figures and events into the narrative, such as the death of Princess Diana, adding an extra layer of realism to the story.

The plot of The Sentence is Death is complex and multi-layered, with numerous suspects and motives to consider. Horowitz expertly navigates these intricacies, revealing just enough information to keep the reader engaged without giving away the final twist. The resolution of the murder is satisfying and surprising, providing a satisfying conclusion to the story.

In terms of weaknesses, some readers may find the constant metafictional references to Horowitz’s own work and real-life events distracting. Additionally, while the character development is excellent, some of the secondary characters could have been more fully fleshed out.

The Sentence is Death is an expertly crafted murder mystery that will keep readers engaged from beginning to end. Anthony Horowitz’s writing is exceptional, and his attention to detail and well-drawn characters make this a standout example of the genre. I highly recommend this book to fans of detective fiction and those who enjoy a good mystery. You can buy a copy of the book here.


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