“The Word is Murder” by Anthony Horowitz is a reimagined Holmes and Watson mystery. In a first person narrative, Horowitz tells a compelling modern day mystery with a version of himself as Watson and Hawthorne as Holmes.
The book opens in London when Diana Cowper, the mother of a famous actor, goes into a funeral parlor to plan and pay for her own service. Six hours later she is dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home. The drama advances as the annoying Hawthorne approaches Horowitz to write a book featuring himself and his exploits as a detective.
The characters are familiar with the brilliant, eccentric, police detective Daniel Hawthorne as a modern Holmes. Hawthorne is curt, temperamental, and annoying; he is quick with an insult and focused on cracking the case at any cost. Horowitz, as Watson, finds himself working with a partner with secrets he cannot uncover and documenting a story he cannot control.
“The Word is Murder,” is one of the best modern adaptations of the classic Holmes and Watson relationship. This unusual partnership results in an irresistible tale with twists and turns on every page. The clues emerge gradually and are understated enough to fool even the most observant readers who may find that at end that previous solutions and identification were very wrong.
I listened to “The Word is Murder” as an audio book narrated by Rory Kinnear who did an excellent job with the voices of the diverse characters in the story. Many modern adaptations of Holmes pale in comparison to the original, holds its own ground. The good news is that this is but the first book in the Hawthorne series, and the second, “The Sentence is Death” is out now.