Tag Archives: Murder Mystery novels

Book review: The Sentence is Death

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.

Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square
Porter Square Bookstore in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe in Back Bay

Book review: Moriarity

Moriarity is the first book I’ve read by the English author, Anthony Horowitz, but it won’t be my last. Detective literature fans will recognize the name Moriarity as the fictional criminal mastermind created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. For Sherlock Holmes fans, the references and characters who appear in this 2014 publication will absolutely entertain and delight.

The story opens in Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, which happens to be where Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty fight to the death. Later, Doyle would revive Holmes and continue the popular series but this novel opens with an American private investigator named Frederick Chase trying to get past the unhelpful Swiss police to see the body that has been recovered from the waterfalls and is believed to be Moriarty. He is thwarted until the arrival of Inspector Athelney Jones from Scotland Yard arrives.

What follows is a rollercoaster ride that takes us back to London and exposes a ruthless and sophisticated criminal network. We learn that before arriving in Switzerland, Moriarty had been in contact with a ruthless criminal network in the US led by an equally shadowy figure named Clarence Devereux for the purpose of forming a cross-Atlantic criminal alliance that could strengthen and embolden both.

Inspector Jones greatly admires Holmes skills of deduction and observation. He tries to model himself in his image, and the American P.I., Chase, who narrates the story is intentionally reminiscent of Holmes faithful sidekick, Dr. Watson. I found the 400 page paperback difficult to put down once the two make their way back to London, and murder mystery enthusiasts will feel the same. The writing style of Horowitz is so easy and fluid that I found myself staying up far too late to finish chapters and find out what would happen next. This book is definitely worth the read if you’re looking for something entertaining.

If you’re interested in purchasing this book and open to supporting local bookstores, try one of the links I’ve shared. The links below 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 Moriarty.

Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square
Porter Square Bookstore in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe in Back Bay