Anthony Horowitz (a fictional character and the narrator of this book) is on the set of “Foyle’s War,” the World War II-era TV show that Anthony Horowitz (a real person and the author of this book) wrote for the BBC. When Honeysuckle Weeks (a character in this novel but also an actress on the show) steps off a bus during the filming of a scene, a taxi pulls up, ruining the take, and out steps private eye Daniel Hawthorne. Ah, a completely fictional character at last!
“The Sentence Is Death” is Horowitz’s fast-paced, lively sequel to “The Word Is Murder.” In both mysteries, he mashes up fact and fiction, telling the story through a character based closely on himself.
Horowitz and Hawthorne are a team: Hawthorne solves a crime (in this case, the murder of a lawyer bashed to death with a bottle of wine), and Horowitz tags along, taking notes in order to write a book. But he just can’t help himself — he thinks he can outsmart Hawthorne and solve the mystery first. And so he interrupts interviews by asking questions at the wrong moment, draws conclusions that muddy the waters and comes close to tipping off the murderer.
Shut up, Tony! the reader wants to shout. (Hawthorne is the only person on the planet who calls Anthony Horowitz “Tony.”)
Just as in “Foyle’s War,” there are twists and turns and unexpected developments. The fact-fiction blurring continues to the last page, in the Acknowledgments, when Horowitz (the author? the character?) thanks his wife, his publisher and — Daniel Hawthorne.
I’m totally flummoxed, but I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
The Sentence Is Death
By: Anthony Horowitz.
Publisher: Harper, 373 pages, $27.99.