Writing: 3/5 Plot: 3/5 Characters
Disappointing! I loved Magpie Murders and I love Horowitz’ TV work (Midsomer Murder, Foyle’s War) so I was looking forward to this book, which I picked up in London last year and finally got around to reading. But … it did not live up to my expectations.
Horowitz likes to experiment with writing style. In this book, he includes himself as a character who has been asked by real-life detective Daniel Hawthorne to follow him around and write a book about his cases — to be the Watson to his Holmes as it were.
The Horowitz character is annoyed that Hawthorne doesn’t give him any personal background or share his ongoing thoughts or inner procedures on the case (I bet Holmes frustrated Watson in the same way).
While I don’t mind this blurring of fact and fiction, I found the Horowitz character’s issues with his agent, his wife, and trying to out-think the detective (and getting it wrong) just a distraction from the actual murder mystery (that part was well done!). Instead of objectively following a detective and watching him work, we had a whiny author complaining about getting pulled out of an important meeting with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson in order to go see the body, or complaining that the detective wouldn’t open up so he had no background to write.
I’m not sure why it didn’t work for me — it was obviously supposed to be playful and funny — but I just found it tedious!