No, I swear. You can make it a happy one with this novel!
Title: The Sentence Is Death
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Date of publication: 1st November 2018
Format: physical proof
Rating: 4,5 🧚♀️
Death, deception, and a detective with quite a lot to hide stalk the pages of Anthony Horowitz’s brilliant new murder mystery, the second in the bestselling series starring Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne.
‘You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late… ’
These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise.
Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?
Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s really getting rather good at this murder investigation business.
But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realises that these secrets must be exposed – even at the risk of death…
Once upon a time, there was a woman scrolling down her Twitter feed. Her heart missed a beat when she spotted a cover. You know all about cover love, don’t you? Well, The Sentence Is Death proudly wore her favourite colour, so the woman clicked on the link and discovered a very interesting blurb. Then, something wonderful happened.
The kind book fairy Sarah Harwood offered to send the woman a copy of this beautiful book in exchange for an honest review. This post is a thank you and a have a wonderful end of the year to Sarah and the team.
The Sentence Is Death. The title only reminded me of Agatha Christie books or Sherlock Holmes adventures. Intriguing, with a taste of good mystery and great writing. Before I opened the book, I knew I was in for a treat. And not just because I love the red on the cover. The combination of a short synopsis and a hardback had me wondering what was hiding in all those pages (yeah, all hardbacks are big to me, I have small hands, so my big eyes were angry for all the pages!)
A book within a book. Been there? Yes. But Anthony Horowitz takes a cocktail and adds a special ingredient that makes his series entirely unique! I’ll come back to this later.
First, I want to talk about the opening. I was totally thrown by it. It felt so disconnected from what I was expecting, what I had been led to find, that it took me the entire chapter to find my feet. The effect was good. I was intrigued, I was an extra walking in on a scene I wasn’t supposed to be in. I loved it. Best surprising first chapter! Also, I loved the fact that we don’t jump straight away into a case. It is nice to meet your new book friends first in a different setting!
Now, back to the book within a book. I have seen lots of different narratives, I have let them take me to wild trips down scary, bloody, teary lanes. But I don’t remember reading a novel in which the real author is actually a character in his own book. Mind blown. I didn’t know about this detail when I started reading, so when I realized, I was marveling at the genius idea. The thing is, having a good idea is great, right? But if you don’t have the tools to exploit its potential to its best, then it can go sour very quickly. Don’t worry, we are in terribly good hands with Anthony Horowitz.
So, what should you expect from The Sentence Is Death? A clever plot. You need it in mysteries, it’s a given. Hints. I love going on a hunt. I applaud myself when I find one, but usually, the authors are so good at wrapping them in the smallest details that I fail. It doesn’t matter. I go into this kind of books like a kid runs to the garden to find the eggs left by the Easter Bunny. I don’t really want to eat the eggs, I just want to follow the trail and have fun. Believe me, The Sentence Is Death is … deadly entertaining! And not just because of the skillfully weaved plot. No, what makes this novel a delight and one of my favourite reads of the month is the interactions between Tony and his detective, the oh-so-special Daniel Hawthorne. If I had to choose between having a Watson or a Tony, I’d go for the latter, for his humour, his take on life, and his general reaction to Daniel and the events occurring throughout the book had me feeling close to him. No distance, no ‘those are clever brains with a different look on life and the keys to every mystery’. Tony is trying to make a living, he has deadlines, he doesn’t want to put his life at risk. He doesn’t appreciate all of Daniel’s schemes of ways of doing things. Tony is refreshing. His voice is clear, enjoyable, totally relatable, and so, so brilliant. It takes resilience and some craziness to be able to work with Daniel. The guy likes to put on a show but there is a cloud of mystery around him. Not something that is seducing and makes you want to worship the guy with the answers. No, some sense of danger, of oppressive secrecy that could be the death of him one day! Both guys sounded so different yet so real, so good in the roles that have been given to them that my heart broke when the time to say goodbye came.
The Sentence is Death is an utterly absorbing, completely captivating, and absolutely delightful read, perfect no matter your mood!
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Anthony Horowitz is the author of the bestselling teen spy series (soon to become a TV series), Alex Rider, and is also responsible for creating and writing some of the UK’s most loved and successful TV series, including Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War.
Anthony has also written two highly acclaimed Sherlock Holmes novels, The House of Silk and Moriarty, and two James Bond novels, Trigger Mortis and Forever and a Day. His previous thrillers, Magpie Murder and The Word is Murder, were both top Top Ten Sunday Times bestsellers.
He is on the board of the Old Vic Theatre, and was awarded an OBE for his services to literature in 2014.