When I purchased this book, I didn’t realize it was the second in a series, but reading this out of order didn’t impact my ability to follow the story or diminish my appreciation. Detective lit fans are going to enjoy The Sentence is Death, which was first published in 2018. The 350+ page novel makes for a great book to have by your bedside (I’m a night reader) or to bring with you on vacation.
The story revolves around the death of a successful, gay solicitor murdered in his home shortly after concluding a celebrity-divorce, and is narrated by the author (Anthony Horowitz). The main characters, ex-detective inspector Daniel Hawthorne and Anthony Horowitz, make for an unlikely pair. This is their second time working on a murder investigation, and they’re still getting to know each other. Hawthorne’s brusque, offensive nature still frustrates and embarasses Horowitz and my only criticism of the novel is I find it hard to believe such a loner (Hawthorne) would care to have someone like Horowitz tagging along. Perhaps in the next novel, we will learn more about the antisocial former inspector from Scotland Yard that will better explain this vanity (but I’m getting ahead of myself).
Despite Hawthorne’s contempt for people (especially Scotland Yard), he wants Horowitz to shadow him to observe firsthand how he solves murder mysteries that have stumped the police. Horowitz is meant to use the murder investigation as material for a future novel that will showcase Hawthorne’s brilliance. Sound like a familiar theme from another famous detective series set in England? While Horowitz continues to borrow themes and traits from Doyle’s novels, Hawthorne reminds me more of Sam Spade than Sherlock Holmes.
The novel mostly takes place in London. It offers a peak into the life of Richard Pryce, a successful, gay lawyer who is found bludgeoned to death at his home. We also learn more about his relationships with his husband, clients, and friends. There are plenty of “red herrings” and figuring out what is relevant and what is a distraction frustrates Horowitz to no end as he tries to discern who is lying, who is telling the truth, and most importantly, who is the killer? I didn’t figure out the ending, but I did come close. Let me know if you’re more successful if you read the book.
If you’re interested in purchasing this book and open to supporting local bookstores, try one of the links I’ve shared. They will take you right to the book so you can order it online in just a couple of clicks. Alternatively, you can check your local library for a copy of this book. Here is a link to the BPL copy for The Sentence is Death.