March 2, 2024

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Hawthorne and Horowitz Investigates: A Series Summary and Review Without Spoilers

Hawthorne and Horowitz Investigates Series Summaries

My review of Anthony Horowitz’s Hawthorne and Horowitz Investigates is an overall review of all four books in the series: The Word Is Murder, The Sentence Is Death, A Line To Kill, And The Twist of the Knife. Before beginning my review, I wanted to provide the Goodreads summary for each book. No worries about spoilers (although the summaries might have slight spoilers by their nature- but nothing that would alter the reading experience). Through an overall review of the series, I aim not to spoil anything in the four-book series. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to interview Anthony Horowitz (linked). Please, check it out!

The Word Is Murder (Hawthorne and Horowitz Investigates #1)


New York Times bestselling author of Magpie Murders and Moriarty, Anthony Horowitz, has yet again brilliantly reinvented the classic crime novel, this time writing a fictional version of himself as the Watson to a modern-day Holmes.

One bright spring morning in London, Diana Cowper – the wealthy mother of a famous actor – enters a funeral parlor. She is there to plan her own service.

Six hours later, she is found dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home.

Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric investigator who’s as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. Hawthorne needs a ghostwriter to document his life, a Watson to his Holmes. He chooses Anthony Horowitz.

Drawn in against his will, Horowitz soon finds himself a the center of a story he cannot control. Hawthorne is brusque, temperamental, and annoying, but even so, his latest case, with its many twists and turns, proves irresistible. The writer and the detective form an unusual partnership. At the same time, it soon becomes clear that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own.

A masterful and tricky mystery that springs many surprises The Word is Murder is Anthony Horowitz at his very best.

The Sentence Is Death (Hawthorne and Horowitz Investigates #2)

“You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late….”

These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of a successful celebrity-divorce lawyer. Richard Pryce is found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise.

Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? Why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne >and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s getting rather good at this murder investigation business.

But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realizes these secrets must be exposed – even at the risk of death.

A Line To Kill (Hawthorne and Horowitz Investigates #3)

When Ex-Detective Inspector Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, author Anthony Horowitz, are invited to an exclusive literary festival on Alderney, an idyllic island off the south coast of England, they don’t expect to find themselves in the middle of a murder investigation—or to be trapped with a cold-blooded killer in a remote place with a murky, haunted past.

Arriving on Alderney, Hawthorne and Horowitz soon meet the festival’s other guests—an eccentric gathering that includes a bestselling children’s author, a French poet, a TV chef turned cookbook author, a blind psychic, and a war historian—along with a group of ornery locals embroiled in an escalating feud over a disruptive power line.

When a local grandee is found dead under mysterious circumstances, Hawthorne and Horowitz become embroiled in the case. The island is locked down, no one is allowed on or off, and it soon becomes horribly clear that a murderer lurks in their midst. But who?

Both a brilliant satire on the world of books and writers and an immensely enjoyable locked-room mystery, A Line to Kill is a triumph—a riddle of a story full of brilliant misdirection, beautifully set-out clues, and diabolically clever denouements.

The Twist of the Knife (Hawthorne and Horowitz Investigates #4)

‘Our deal is over.’

That’s what reluctant author Anthony Horowitz tells ex-detective Daniel Hawthorne in an awkward meeting. The truth is that Anthony has other things on his mind.

His new play, Mindgame, is about to open in London’s Vaudeville theatre. Not surprisingly, Hawthorne declines a ticket.

On opening night, Sunday Times critic Harriet Throsby gives the play a savage review, focusing mainly on the writing. The next morning she is found dead, stabbed in the heart with an ornamental dagger which, it turns out, belongs to Anthony and which has his fingerprints all over it.

Anthony is arrested, charged with Throsby’s murder, thrown into prison, and interrogated.

Alone and increasingly desperate, he realizes only one man can help him.

But will Hawthorne take his call?

Hawthorne and Horowitz Investigates By Anthony Horowitz: Review

Yes. I just had a binge marathon, reading all four books in just over four days (maybe 5). So, I know I’m so late to this party that someone has already been killed for book five. However, I’m here now. I hope that I can help others not make the same mistake.

This may be a bit Captain Obvious speaking, but the best part of Horowitz’s series is the relationship between Hawthorne and Horowitz. They don’t like each other very much, if at all. And the resulting, unlikely pair provide endless amusement throughout the series. They are polar personalities, constantly in conflict and need of each other.

Hawthorne certainly had a magnetic personality. Although, of course, magnets can repel as well as attract.- The Word is Murder

The development of their relationship is pivotal to a series that only gets better as you go.

Stop right there,’ <Horowitz> said. ‘If we’re going to have rules, the main rule is that you never ask me about my private life: not my books, not my TV, not my family, not my friends.’
Hawthorne: I’m interested you put them in that order…”

Horowitz doesn’t stop there. In each book, there is a unique place and mystery. He gives voice by showing the friction between the two main characters and supporting them with an array of characters that provide just as much entertainment. Anthony Horowitz has managed, through four books, not to become repetitive. This isn’t an easy feat. It is easy for a series to get stale the further along you go. Horowitz manages the opposite, keeping the characters and mysteries fresh.

Anthony Horowitz

Much of what I discuss in this review, is also addressed in my interview with Anthony Horowitz (linked).


Nothing gets old, even in the development of Hawthorne and Horowitz’s relationship. It just progresses. Part of how he accomplishes this is through the structure of the books. By inserting himself as a character in the book, he not only provides the unique idea I’ve seen in a book recently but breaks the fourth wall, almost despite himself. But always to the enjoyment of readers.

Moreover, Horowitz has not inserted himself as the hero or focal point. That is all Hawthorne. Instead, Horowitz often isn’t aware of everything Hawthorne has figured out and openly addresses his frustrations both with Hawthorne and his readers. He is often the mistreated subordinate, much to his disdain. Hawthorne often up-ends Horowitz’s entire life, showing no regard for anything but his own goals and needs.

The Word is Murder, takes its time setting up this dynamic before the mystery goes into gear. However, it is essential time that is utilized for the pivotal relationship, and characters as individuals, in the series. From there each book kicks off with the mystery and grips you from the get-go.

My final hot-take is that f you like your mysteries to have a dark sense of humor, great character dynamics, and be thrilling? This is everything! There will be no regrets when you binge Hawthorne and Horowitz Investigates.

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