The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz

As soon as I finished Anthony Horowitz's murder mystery The Word Is Murder, I couldn't resist moving straight on to the recently published sequel, The Sentence Is Death.

You can read my review of The Word Is Murder, which explains the background to both books, here - but to summarise, the premise of this series is that Anthony Horowitz, the author, is a character in the books, so each one is the story of Horowitz writing, ostensibly, a true crime series about Daniel Hawthorne, a private detective. Anthony Horowitz the author writes about Anthony Horowitz the character as he accompanies Hawthorne in his investigations, weaving in real details about his life and work as he does so. 

The Sentence Is Death is another immensely entertaining page-turner, and I think it's fair to say that Anthony and Hawthorne might be my favourite detective duo since Robert Galbraith's Strike and Robin. The opening of A Sentence Is Death sets the perfect tone for the rest of the novel - Anthony is trying to get on with his day job as a screenwriter and working on location with Foyle's War when Hawthorne appears with his usual scant regard for other people's feelings, schedules or reputations and drags the reluctant Anthony into a second investigation.

Once again, the police have brought in Hawthorne to act as a consultant on a murder case. The victim is a wealthy divorce lawyer who had previously been threatened by his client's estranged wife, a renowned literary author who dismisses Anthony as merely a 'commercial writer'.

Like its predecessor, The Sentence Is Death is full of humour and Horowitz frequently makes his own character, perpetually one step behind the secretive, duplicitous Hawthorne, the butt of the joke - there are several moments that I found laugh-out-loud funny. The odd, awkward relationship between Anthony and Hawthorne is key to the success of this series, and although we learn only a very little more about the resolutely secretive Hawthorne's private life, it's enough to make me impatient for the next book.

The plot is another Horowitz masterclass in mystery plotting that builds to a tense climax. My only disappointment is that there isn't yet a third book in the series, and I sincerely hope Horowitz intends to write many more.