What I’m reading: the new Poirot, the new Sherlock

 

Anthony Horowitz: A LINE TO KILL

 

This is the third of Anthony Horowitz’s Hawthorne series, in which he appears himself as scribe and assistant to ex-cop turned investigator Daniel Hawthorne, rather like Dr Watson to Sherlock Holmes or Colonel Hastings to Hercule Poirot. A literary festival on the tranquil island of Alderney (actually murder-free since its brutal occupation by the Nazis in WW2) turns into a crime-fest when the event’s millionaire host is stabbed to death, a man with many enemies. There are plenty of suspects, including the visiting authors, more than one of whom is not who they pretend to be. There is – right on cue – a second murder.

Mr Horowitz has scripted episodes of Poirot and Midsomer Murders (as well as several series of Foyle’s War, which he created), so he is a past master at serving up false leads and red herrings. He has an unpretentious prose style and a keen sense of pacing. I doubt if many readers will second-guess the big reveal. I prefer my crime stories to be more lurid and even a bit gothic, but for fans of the “country house murder mystery” A Line to Kill is an exemplar of everything a whodunit should be.

Horowitz has also written three contributions to the James Bond legend, all splendidly close in theme and style to Ian Fleming’s original stories. I very much hope he holds on to the franchise.

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