Today I am delighted to share my thoughts on A Line To Kill by Anthony Horowitz. This is the third book in the Detective Hawthorne series but, obviously, the first one I’ve read. Didn’t really matter as I settled into it very quickly and finished it in no time at all. My thanks to publisher Century who furnished me with an advance copy. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
‘I couldn’t see the sea from my bedroom but I could hear the waves breaking in the distance. They reminded me that I was on a tiny island. And I was trapped.’
There has never been a murder on Alderney.
It’s a tiny island, just three miles long and a mile and a half wide. The perfect location for a brand-new literary festival. Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne has been invited to talk about his new book. The writer, Anthony Horowitz, travels with him.
Very soon they discover that all is not as it should be. Alderney is in turmoil over a planned power line that will cut through it, desecrating a war cemetery and turning neighbour against neighbour.
The visiting authors – including a blind medium, a French performance poet and a celebrity chef – seem to be harbouring any number of unpleasant secrets.
When the festival’s wealthy sponsor is found brutally killed, Alderney goes into lockdown and Hawthorne knows that he doesn’t have to look too far for suspects.
There’s no escape. The killer is still on the island. And there’s about to be a second death…
This is another of those moments where I just want to kick myself. How in the hell have I managed to let this series pass me by? I mean, I’ve been aware of it, but I’ve just not read it. Although it might seem odd to be happy to have started at book three, there is a kind of illogical logic to it in the fact that this book is set in the months just prior to the release of book one in the series, The Word Is Murder. Because this is a book which is set in the author’s real time world, but in a very unique and humorously perfect way. For those not in the know, Anthony Horowitz, the very skilled author of both this book and many others, is engaged to write the (sort of) biography of Detective Daniel Hawthorne. He shadows him as he investigates some deadly cases and documents all that happens in successive novels. A Line To Kill sees our intrepid duo head to Alderney to attend a literary festival under the premise of promoting the ‘not yet out’ book, TWIM. Hawthorne is unusually keen to attend, and knowing this, and sensing through the narrative the expected reticence over the whole affair that fails to materialise, you know that everything is highly likely to go south – and not just as far as Alderney.
I loved the premise of this book, a magical blend of classic murder mystery with a Christie-esque tone, but blended with the author’s own world, even if it was a little exaggerated and fictionalised. It is full of humour, mystery, tension and unexpected revelations, and I never once felt at a disadvantage not having read the first two books. Yes, there are hints of stories past, but not so much that I am not looking forward to going back and devouring the audiobooks. If anything it whet my appetite even more. I have loved the author’s conversational and observational style, and was drawn immediately to Horowitz and Hawthorne as a crime solving duo. It kind of put me in mind of Hastings trailing Poirot, if you could imagine Poirot as a more laid back former police Detective with a tendency to call his sidekick ‘mate’. Hawthorne is a brilliant character to follow – kind of aloof, never that giving in terms of his thinking and yet perfectly reasonable in presentation of facts, making you wonder how anyone missed the obvious in the first place.
The setting of Alderney is perfect – it makes this a kind of locked room mystery but with slightly exaggerated boundaries. The suspect can only have been someone on the Island but with a victim as ghastly as le Mesurier, the list of potential suspects and motives could still be deceptively long. And there is some ancient history between Hawthorne and someone on the island which gives the reader more insight into the Detectives past too, and certainly adds to the uncertainty and the suspicion in play. I loved the mix of people attending the festival – just the kind of eclectic mix I could picture at a very small regional festival, and all portrayed in such vivid ways that they, and the story, stuck with me long after the final page was turned.
This was such a clever and well scripted story that I was absolutely hooked from start to finish. I think I must have read it with a smile on my face pretty much to the last page. Anthony Horowitz is so adept at setting the scene, be it within the bounds of the literary festival, capturing the excesses and the extremes of the islands and the residents, or even just in setting the tone and mood, that I could picture it all clearly in my mind. Although clues were left throughout, as in the style of all of the best cosy crime stories, I still had no real vision of who the ‘bad guy’ was this time around, possibly because there were several villains to hand, the victim included.
Yes this is cosy crime, which I’ll admit is not my normal go to, but sometimes you just want a little light humour in your to be read pile and this book gave me that and so much more. Great setting, unique premise, brilliant storytelling and characters, both real and imagined, who I was just very happy to spend time with, it gets the seal of approval from me. Any book that makes me want to go and download the first two books before I’m even a third of the way through has to be a winner. Not sure what the Alderney tourist board might think of it though ..
About the Author
Bestselling author Anthony Horowitz has written two highly acclaimed Sherlock Holmes novels, The House of Silk and Moriarty; two James Bond novels, Trigger Mortis and Forever and a Day; three Detective Hawthorne novels, The Word is Murder, The Sentence is Death and the forthcoming A Line To Kill, and the acclaimed bestselling mystery novels Magpie Murders and Moonflower Murders.
He is also the author of the teen spy Alex Rider series, and responsible for creating and writing some of the UK’s most loved and successful TV series, including Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War. In January 2014 he was awarded an OBE for his services to literature.