Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Anthony Horowitz came up with one of the more creative literary ideas in recent memory with A Hawthorne and Horowitz Mystery series, inserting himself as a main character in his own novels. In the fourth book, The Twist of a Knife, Anthony Horowitz finds himself falsely accused of murder, forcing him to turn to Detective Hawthorne for help, despite the two being newly-estranged.
Table of contents
Anthony Horowitz Becomes a Victim of the Law
For the most part, we trust the laws of the countries we are living in, recognizing their importance in maintaining a functional and orderly society where everyone can feel safe and sound. Naturally, nothing in this world is perfect, and the law sometimes chases after the wrong people, a horrendous experience Anthony Horowitz subjects himself to in the fourth novel of A Hawthorne and Horowitz mystery series, titled The Twist of a Knife.
Even though I highly recommend that you check out the previous novel in the series as well as the ones which came before, it certainly isn’t necessary to understand and enjoy this novel. While you will be missing out on some of the backstory involving Horowitz and his crime-solving partner ex-detective Daniel Hawthorne, it won’t be all that much of a detriment.
The story in this one begins with Horowitz and Hawthorne parting ways, after Anthony reluctantly tells his friend he has had enough of their escapades. Three books was plenty enough for him, and so he calls off the deal they had while tending to some other matters in his life. Namely, his new play Mindgame is about to open, and he has high hopes for his future.
Those hopes are smashed to the ground when the play is panned by virtually all critics, especially a noteworthy one from the Sunday Times, Margaret Throsby. When she is found murdered with an ornamental dagger with Anthony’s fingerprints all over it, he understandably becomes the number one suspect and is arrested by his old enemy, Detective Inspector Cara Grunshaw. When another critic is found dead in mysterious circumstances, Anthony grows truly desperate, and makes a call.
Despite having been dumped him on the side of the road like dead weight, Anthony has no choice but to turn to Daniel Hawthorne for help. He is obviously being set up by someone, and the former detective is the last chance he has at clearing his name and saving him not only from prison, but also from the kind of public scorn which might just kill his writing career.
Life of a Chief Suspect in The Twist of a Knife
Let’s face it, the vast majority of us will thankfully never know the stress of being the chief subject in a murder investigation where we stand falsely accused and someone is trying to frame us. While I’m certain Anthony Horowitz won’t really know it either, he does his absolute best to imagine what it would be like in The Twist of a Knife.
If you’ve already read some his previous works in the series, then you’ll already know what to expect in terms of tone here. There are some serious moments here and there, but for the most part, Horowitz‘ interpretation of his own experience is punctuated by dry wit and observations with a lighthearted twist to them.
Now, I suppose it’s time to address the literary device this series is famous for: the author fictionalizing himself into his novel. On one hand, it certainly does make his experience feel a little more real (even if we know it’s pure fiction), and it helps the story be more connected to the real world, especially when Horowitz mentions his own previous works.
Personally, I find it to be a really clever device which still hasn’t gotten old four-entries deep. I suppose it also helps that Horowitz is quite a talented writer and interesting person outside of his Hawthorne novels. It gives him the ability to easily formulate and integrate his own private thoughts across the entire novel, giving us a valuable peek into his inner world.
While I personally can’t vouch for the various details of Horowitz‘ journey at the centre of a police investigation, it seemed to me like he put just enough research into it to make it believable without bogging the book down with needless procedural details. Even though everyone obviously knows he’ll come out triumphant at the end of it, he still managed to make me feel both intrigued and alarmed for what fate might await him, for the possibility the law might claim an innocent victim.
The Theatre of Murder
While Anthony Horowitz sits in custody and prays for a positive resolution to everything, we also get to follow Daniel Hawthorne on his reluctant investigation to clear the author’s name. These segments are much more reminiscent of classic detective literature, and for the most part, Anthony sticks to the well-known and trodden path his plot.
The premise for the mystery itself isn’t exactly anything new nor groundbreaking. A critic with countless enemies was murdered, giving virtually every suspect a rock-solid motive to commit the crime, forcing Hawthorne to go through the suspects one by one in search of the truth. What does freshen the whole thing up, is the setting: the world of London Theatre, and occasionally, the British countryside (the most dangerous place on Earth).
Once again, without going into too much depth or veering into absurd territory, Anthony Horowitz explores the world of theatre he doubtlessly knows like the back of his hand, and it shows through the various details and tidbits he shares with us over the course of the book. This decision works wonders at giving the story some unique colours, making it feel larger-than-life at certain times, and memorably dramatic at others.
As we watch Hawthorne wade through this complicated world of tangled relationships, shattered dreams and immortal aspirations, he puts his detecting talents on full display. While his observational and deductive abilities rival those of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, I do have to say his character does end up being a little bland. Additionally, his relationship with the author falls a somewhat flat on certain occasions, begging for more development.
Nevertheless, these minor flaws can be swept under the carpet, especially when we consider how exciting the actual investigation turns out to be in The Twist of a Knife. Moving along at a fairly quick pace, we jump from one clue and suspect to the next, always being strung along by the promise of exceptional revelations, which do arrive, and don’t disappoint in the slightest.
|384||Harper||Nov. 15 2022||978-0062938183|
The Final Verdict
The Twist of a Knife by Anthony Horowitz is an excellent mystery and thriller novel, as well as a worthy continuation to A Hawthorne and Horowitz Mystery series, taking a well-known concept and crafting a solid mystery around it, with a couple of new elements thrown in to spice things up a bit.
If you’re already a fan of the series, or are interested in the idea of a murder mystery taking place in the world of theatre with the narrator (and author) being the prime suspect, then I think this novel will be right up your alley.
Anthony Horowitz is an English author from Stanmore, Middlesex, whose family had the distinction of being of having a history worthy of a novel in and of itself, largely revolving around his father’s mysterious occupation and fortune.
At the age of twenty he began publishing professionally, and has penned numerous bestsellers including The House of Silk, Stormbreaker, Moriarty and Magpie Murders.