‘What are you doing here? It’s a bit 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…
If you a) like a baffling mystery and b) you’re a fan of Hercule Poirot then c) it is dead certain this novel will please you.
I didn’t know at first but The Sentence is Death is actually the second in a series following PI Daniel Hawthorne and the writer, Anthony. That’s exactly right, the author of this novel is also acting as a main character, following the PI around in order to write a book (this book) about him. This infusion of some veritable facts mixed with fiction made it quite an exceptional reading experience. What was told felt very realistic and authentic and Anthony’s first person POV made me feel as if I really came to know the author’s very thoughts, quite a contrast with the closed-off PI Daniel Hawthorne.
Anthony Horowitz wrote several episodes of Poirot so it’s no wonder this novel was exactly my cup of tea. It does lean more towards the cosy mystery genre for me, a little lighter than the crime novels I usually read but I really liked the mystery, or should I say mysteries because there is not one but two cases to be solved.
The story was complex enough to keep me highly entertained and much like Tony himself I was trawling behind Hawthorne and didn’t see the clues. Even though everything was written down word for word what was happening when they interviewed everyone involved, I couldn’t figure out the connection – if there even was one – between the puzzling murder of divorce lawyer Richard Price and another suspicious ‘incident’.
There was a lot of guesswork because the novel could go forward in two very different directions with very different suspects. Did the past catch up with Price or was it indeed, as was their initial thought, one of Price’s clients? I had no idea which path it was going to follow, it was very cleverly written to keep the suspense to a maximum and it made me excited to find out the truth.
I was also surprised, and very pleasantly so, the novel was set in a world of books and publicists and writers. Anthony’s character lends itself of course to dive into this world but there’s another character who’s a writer and so he finds himself in a bookshop, talking to a publicist and talking books. He refers to his first novel, The Word is Murder, a few times because that’s where he starts his cooperation with Daniel Hawthorne but I didn’t feel I missed anything and this novel is a good standalone.
The Sentence is Death was a puzzling but entertaining murder mystery. Even though I haven’t warmed yet to Hawthorne, who is the only remaining mystery in this novel, I look forward to reading the third novel in the series already.
I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.