The Word Is Murder

The Word Is Murder

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Publisher: New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018
ISBN: 9780062676788
Characteristics: 390 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 13, 2020

A meta approach, quality writing and a well-constructed plot make this an above average mystery. I figured it out but not too early and not for the reasons that get fleshed out. I liked the author, who is also a character in the book, making himself not too bright nor even too pleasant and the unveiling of the murderer being sort of over the top dramatic. Felt a little satirizing, which is a fun bonus.

Mar 20, 2020

Sometimes, an author gives too many characters and The Word is Murder has an abundant cast. How to decide which character has enough motive to commit murder. Diana Cowper walks into a funeral home and arranges her future memorial service. Later that same day, Diana is brutally murdered. So many individuals have motive for wanting Diana dead, but who is the guilty culprit? Hawthorne and the author, Anthony Horowitz, gathers the information. Anthony learns the tactics employed by Hawthorne, an ex-policeman. Another story of an event ten years ago interweaves between Diana’s murder. Horowitz employs himself as a narrator which provides an explanation, an aside, which is very well done.

Jan 18, 2020

Interesting premise, average mystery, soft ending
A fictionalized "true" story of the author observing a brilliant detective attempting to solve the murder of a woman who went in to plan her funeral and was murdered the same day
The premise of the story of the woman planning her funeral and then being murdered was a great Agatha Christie-style plot, more so than Sherlock Holmes. Yet the writing arrangement of Horowitz as Watson and Hawthrone as Holmes works reasonably well, even if Hawthorne is more prickly and flawed. Lots of different characters to meet. While I figured out several red herrings and had most of the clues assembled at the end, I didn't quite interpret them the way the final answer is given.
There are three things in the story that bothered me. First and foremost, Horowitz has inserted himself as the narrator as if the premise is real. It's a bit gimmicky, but if you ignore that, and treat it as if it was a fictionalized person, the premise works okay but not great. Yet as a result, he pulls in various people he knows in real life, and of course they are treated with kid gloves. All positive words, meeting people like Spielberg for instance, no chance he might be sued. Second, Horowitz or his fictionalized version is downright whiny. He complains about everything. He reads like a self-righteous child in many places. Third, there is a premise introduced very early on, and not only does it not play out the way it was described, the real explanation is done only through assumption and speculation. It didn't feel like the book played fair with that clue, or the character. Equally, the ending has a lot of exposition that implies "this is the only explanation" but there were several other equally plausible solutions.
I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow him on social media.

Jan 05, 2020

Fairly good murder mystery, but weirdly written. Not my favorite although Horowitz is clearly a very talented author. I'd give this one a pass.

JCLBetM Oct 24, 2019

An author who plays himself in a fictional murder mystery?! I was mostly intrigued by the premise, which carried my interest through to the end--as often trying to figure out which bits were true as pinpointing the murderer. Plus, the author is the screenwriter behind one of my favorite British series "Foyle's War". All in all, a fun quick murder mystery read that offers up plenty of bits of discussion.

Sep 24, 2019

If you like clever, well-written murder mysteries you’ll enjoy The Word is Murder.
An author is recruited by a discredited detective who in turn has been hired as a consultant by his former employer to solve a puzzling murder.
The sleuth wants the writer to tell the story about how he solves the murder and in turn share the rewards of what he’s sure will a bestseller. The author is not so sure–about the detective or the project.
Author Anthony Horowitz mixes fact with fiction and real people with imaginary characters to weave a story that has plenty of twists and turns.
The plot becomes a bit convoluted near the end but not so much as to dismiss it as contrived.

Aug 14, 2019

The Word Is Murder is both a classic mystery and a meta-mystery. It’s a classic Sherlock Holmes type story, narrated by a Watson, dominated by a master consulting detective, and exhibits many of the same plot characteristics used by Conan Doyle.
Hawthorne is a brilliant former police detective, drummed out of Scotland Yard, but called upon occasionally to solve cases that the dullards who remain on the force can’t fathom. Hawthorne delights in amazing his Watson with startling inferences from sand on shoes and similar Holmesian clues. He is always several steps ahead of his stumbling Watson and not above gloating about it. He is also socially stunted and given to self-destructive habits. The case is solved by uncovering relationships between the characters that are hinted at early on, but not apparent until subjected to Hawthorne’s scrutiny. There is plenty of excitement and action but sparring between Hawthorne and his Watson keeps the story going.
Horowitz’s choice of Watsons for Hawthorne is special: he chose himself. The narrator of The Word is Murder is Anthony Horowitz. Hawthorne is fictional, but the story is also a meta-story about Horowitz writing the story. In the Sherlock Holmes stories, Watson occasionally mentions writing up Holmes’ cases, but Horowitz turns the mystery into a story about writing a mystery, much of which involves real people and events from Horowitz’s life. For example, his literary agent and his other books and television screenplays are mentioned. He discusses choosing the title for the book.
All this comes off very well. I had trouble putting the book down. Nevertheless, Horowitz has not earned a place on my list of favorite authors. I’m not anticipating reading his next Hawthorne mystery because one is enough. By the end, the author-as-character wore thin. The well-executed crescendo of the finale was blunted by the certainty that the narrator would survive the ordeal.
Usually, I am distracted by overly ornate styles. However, in contrast to Horwitz’s startling and meticulously constructed plot, I found his style to be colorless and bland; barely adequate for evoking the scenes of the story. I was surprised when the plainness his voice actually pulled my attention away from the unfolding plot. Perhaps this is characteristic of a screenwriter who is accustomed to leaving embellishment to the horde of producers, directors, actors, and set decorators who contribute to a television production.
I enjoyed The Word Is Murder immensely, but I haven’t cleared a special place for the book on my shelf.

Jul 12, 2019

Stand-alone mystery novel

Jul 03, 2019

Read more books by this author!

Jun 13, 2019

Love how Horowitz integrated himself as one of the main characters in this whodunit mystery along with (true) facts about his personal and professional life. And while the story involves a very British-mystery story, the complicated and hard-nut forced into retirement police investigator makes one wonder if he, too, is a real person. The clever writing results in a very fun read.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Aug 12, 2018

rapunzel454 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at YLPL

To Top