THE WORD IS MURDER by Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz is a multi-talented author and screenwriter. He’s the creator and writer of the TV series Foyle’s War and has contributed scripts to Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Midsomer Murders. His mystery and suspense novels for adults are cleverly plotted, and he has a large following of young adult readers for his Alex Rider series and The Power of Five series.
The novel begins when Diana Cowper walks into a funeral parlor to plan her own service. Little does she know how timely her visit will be, for a mere six hours later she is found dead – strangled – in her own home. Daniel Hawthorne, a strange and eccentric police investigator is given the case.
Hawthorne is set on having his life and work documented as he goes about his investigations and he chooses Anthony Horowitz to act as his ghost writer! So here we have the “real” Horowitz as a character in his own book. At times the reader has to sort out if what Horowitz is alluding to is in this book’s plot or something in his real life, which makes for very interesting reading.
At times amusing, this novel provides enough twists and turns and a simply brilliant ending to please even the most critical reader. This is Horowitz at his best.
WILD FIRE by Ann Cleeves
In the Acknowledgements, prior to the beginning of this book, Cleeves states that this is the last Shetland novel that she’ll write. For the reader, this means that she needs to wrap up the stories about Jimmy Perez and his team.
This novel is all about dysfunctional relationships and families and I felt that the characters were simply shadows on the page – even Jimmy Perez wasn’t fully formed and we “know” him. When the body of a young nanny is found hanging in the barn of recent newcomers to the island, the gossip about her and the families involved, takes off like “wild fire”. Jimmy, along with his boss, Willow Reeves, has to sort out the truth from the lies and innuendo while dealing with their own fractured relationship.
The investigation into this incident is haphazard, darting here and there without any real pattern. Leads are quickly acted on, then simply dropped when someone else comes forward with information, never again to be pursued. The solution appears contrived and leads the reader to ask “how did we get here?”
This is certainly a disappointing ending to a series that I’ve enjoyed reading through eight novels. Maybe it’s just as well that it’s the last installment.