Anthony Horowitz's delicious follow-up to The Word Is Murder once again mixes fact and fiction to create a rollicking, fast-moving and ingenious murder mystery. In real life, Horowitz balances writing British TV series (Foyle's War, Agatha Christie's Poirot) with a successful career as a novelist (including a dozen YA Alex Rider mysteries and his authorized relaunches of James Bond and Sherlock Holmes). The Sentence Is Death features a slightly fictionalized version of Horowitz playing a bumbling assistant to gruff former cop Daniel Hawthorne as they investigate a double homicide.
Richard Pryce, a gay divorce lawyer, is bludgeoned to death with a £3,000 bottle of wine and the number 182 is painted on his wall. Days earlier, an acclaimed feminist poet had threatened to kill him. Things get complicated when it's discovered that an old friend of Pryce was crushed to death by a subway train within hours of Pryce's murder. Horowitz and Hawthorne also learn the two dead friends were previously involved in the accidental death of a third friend.
Part of the delight of this murder mystery is Horowitz's (fictional) reluctance to being Dr. Watson to Hawthorne's Sherlock Holmes. "I like to be in control of my books," he writes. "I had no wish to turn myself into a character, and a secondary one at that: the perennial sidekick." But the antagonistic duo make a great pair. Mystery buffs will love that suspects and motives are repeatedly assessed, giving readers a chance to try to beat the duo to the solution of this outstanding puzzler. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant