Anthony Horowiz does an unusual thing in his new mystery. He inserts himself into his novel as a character. It’s not just first-person narration by a fictional character, because he mentions projects he has worked on in real life.
He is approached by Daniel Hawthorne, a brusque ex-police detective, who wants Horowitz to shadow him on a case and write about it. Horowitz is hesitant at first but soon gets interested in the case.
Diana Cowper is murdered on the same day that she met with an undertaker to plan her own funeral. There may be some connection to an accident she had nearly ten years ago, in which she hit two boys with her car when they ran into the street. One was killed and the other badly injured. She has received threatening letters from Alan Godwin, the boys’ father.
Diana’s son Damian is a famous Hollywood actor who returns for his mother’s funeral. Horowitz assumes Diana’s murder is connected to the car accident, but then Damian is murdered, too.
Frankly, I was underimpressed by Horowitz’s last mystery, and I probably wouldn’t have read it if I hadn’t run across it in the library. I felt it was too concerned with the complicated plot and too little with the characters.
Right off the bat with this novel, I felt uncomfortable with Horowitz’s angle of making himself a character. I didn’t really like the narrative style.
I was really offended, though, when I realized that he kept important information that was vital to discovering the solution until the last 100 pages of the novel. That’s just plain cheating.
Horowitz has written screenplays for very good mystery shows, but his novels seem superficial and facile to me. I feel that his approach is more suited to television than to novels.