By Dan De Neve
Private investigator Daniel Hawthorne returns for his second appearance, this time in The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz, who doubles as Hawthorne’s chronicler and sidekick.
Hawthorne is called in to investigate the murder of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned with a full £2,000 bottle of wine. Odd, since Pryce didn’t drink.
Further complicating the case are the numbers 182 painted in green on a wall where Pryce is found and his last words, which were, “You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late …”
Several suspects may have done Pryce in. They all have solid reasons. Clues abound, but which ones matter, and which are red herrings? Making the case more complex is a second death related to Pryce’s.
Hawthorne smugly tells Horowitz that he is called in since Cara Grunshaw, DI Metropolitan Police, will be unable to solve the murder because she is inept. Unfortunately, for Horowitz, Grunshaw threatens him if he doesn’t pass along information that he and Hawthorne discover.
However, Hawthorne will be proven correct about Grunshaw’s sleuthing abilities.
The Sentence is Death is the second of a four-novel series, and Horowitz doesn’t disappoint. I found the story to be engrossing, and the outcome was believable, just like his first book in this series, The Word is Murder.
The book is fast-paced. Hawthorne and Horowitz make an unlikely but engaging duo. We learn much of Horowitz and his real life as an author.
Throughout the book, he is assisting with or obsessing over the filming of Foyle’s War or discussing his wife, Jill. Horowitz, the character, has been wrong about the murderer in both books of the series, and in each one has almost been killed.
He interjects unwelcome questions during Hawthorne’s interviews of suspects and misreads clues all the time. Early in the book, he admits that he missed three clues and misconstrued two others.
Although he writes himself into his books, it works, because he is not afraid to poke fun at himself.
On the other hand, however, the reader is only given hints to Hawthorne’s past, but not enough to make any sense of it, just theories and speculation. Making Hawthorne more intriguing is when we encounter a friend of his, Kevin Chakraborty.
Kevin, a teenager, is confined to a wheelchair. Coincidentally, his mother attends the same book group as Hawthorne. We also learn that Kevin is a computer whiz who hacks Horowitz’s phone, leading Horowitz to believe that Kevin is passing personal information along to Hawthorne.
Besides reading, the private investigator is also a prolific model builder, homophobic, racist, and lives in a very nice and spotless apartment. Does he even really like the apartment?
Although his personality is frustrating, the lack of Hawthorne’s past will keep me reading future installments of this series to find out more about him.
The Sentence is Death was the January selection for the Seaside Book Group, which meets on the fourth Monday of the month at the Dana Point Library. For more information about the book group or future titles, please call 949.496.5517.
Dan De Neve is a longtime employee of the Orange County Public Library. He currently works at the Dana Point Library as the Adult Services Librarian. He is an avid reader of history, biographies and sports.
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