‘The Word is Murder’ by A. Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz. As himself in his own book. Certainly not an original idea. But is certainly a first for me. Just shows how less I read. The Word is Murder. A name which till the latter part of the book, does not make any sense. I suppose it is time then to issue my customary warning.

SPOILER ALERT!
The following content will / may / may not contain precious information about said book which should not be learnt by reading a review. ( So to be clear, should be learnt by reading the book).PS;-(When did ‘learnt’ become a wrong word?).
This SPOILER ALERT was brought to you by Gordon Watson.

The Word is Murder is a book that is not an ode to the past, like its unrelated predecessor, Magpie Murders was. It is a book that does not have a single strand of white hair. Everything is black, with lots of hair gel and screens and  binary numbers whizzing about. It breathes, eats and sleeps in the present. Every single description of every single person and place oozes modernity. TV shows, contemporary books and acting. It certainly feels like a breath of fresh air after the slow, sleepy pace of the ancient story of Magpie Murders. I hasten to add that Magpie Murders was in no way boring.

The Word is Murder is a book that takes an old yet engaging subject of one planning one’s funeral just before one’s death. Fast paced, sometimes emotionally torturing, and all the time, interesting The Word is Murder keeps you engaged and keeps you turning the pages. Even though they are unnecessarily big. The pages I mean. And that’s all you want from a book. Isn’t it? The fact that you long for the next page in that tiny fraction of a few seconds where you finish the current page and have to go to the top again, is all that is needed for an author to be a good one.

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The story as I said before is about a woman who plans her own funeral and consequently ends up dead. This invariably has the police baffled. And they are forced into calling a consulting detective, who, refreshingly, is not the first one of his profession. A raw, bad mannered, swear-er, Daniel Hawthorne is an ex-policeman. For reasons, uptil then, untold. But he, is interested in making his cases into books. And here comes in the Watson. Except, here, it is the first two words of this article. Anthony and Daniel embark upon a journey that will uncover hidden truths and forbidden secrets. And sometimes, as it turns out reality is strange than fiction.

And the characters, I have to say are not as clichéd as in the previous book. The main character hated gay people. (Yes. Ready the pitchforks.) But to be true it was refreshing change. Something new is always welcome. Being politically correct all the time is not the way for all characters in all books to go. And it was also nice to see that, it was not just a ploy for us to hate him. I certainly didn’t. I like cynical characters. Though I probably am not one, how much ever I try.  Anthony’s character is probably the utopian character the we love to love. The other characters are all very different yet united by one single characteristic. And that is selfishness.

My only misgiving about this book is that it was just too big. And I don’t mean the length, I mean, literally big. It was such a waste of space and paper. That too in this time and age. The publishing house should do much better next time around. What is wrong with keeping the distance between the edge of the print and the edge of the page to a minimum?

For me, a good book is one where I can clearly visualize what is happening. And here, Anthony outdoes himself. He’s always been very good in making you understand the situation, but here its like you’re right with them. And that perhaps is the beauty of his books. And this one in particular. And may I just say, the cover looks absolutely amazing..

GordonW

 

Maigret: A Crime in Holland

A French detective in Holland. A fish out of water. That is the premise of the book. The book, which having been read now, is a book out of time, yet is perfectly and adequately contemporary. Jules Maigret, the commissioner of the Police Judiciaire of Paris is heavy set man, with a penchant of solving crimes through , rather basic yet profound psychology. A Crime in Holland is a Maigret story for the simple reason that it is the crime of a Frenchman in Holland. More specifically, the murder of a Frenchman.

I have found, with the modest number of Maigret books that I’ve read, that these are on the smaller. I have certain many other books which could be double their size. And yet, you do not feel that emptiness that you do feel, when you read other short books. The sheer concentration of information has you turning over the page in a hurry so as to not get sucked back into the boring abyss that is reality. And when you need to take break from the constant pile of facts and knowledge that is being dumped on you, you notice, you’ve not read much at all. That is the basic feeling that I got from the Maigret books that I have read.

Sorry, got a bit side tracked there. Back again. A Crime in Holland is a whodunnit. Simple as that. But is also an old fashioned tribute to the old fashioned customs and traditions that  preceded the current stock of ‘old fashioned’ customs. And is also an ode to the necessity of society to be respectful and scandal free. Hollander’s (taken from the book) apparently, look down on the French, for their disgustfully modern behavior. Without giving anything away, A Crime in Holland very much has a Poirot-esque ending with Maigret assembling everyone concerned in one place. Perhaps not for the same reason as Poirot, but similar nevertheless.

Affairs, Boredom,Youth and ‘shady’ characters in the ‘shadows’ take the reader on a journey through the darkness of the night and through the social intricacies of a respectful society with one exception to every rule. The Police Commissioner from Paris. The fish which is out of water, is as calm as the weather on midsummer morning.(I have no idea if that is ‘meteorolical-ly’ accurate.) I just realized this sounds like something out of a movie trailer. Never mind.  I give no character names, no plot developments, no hints as to whodunnit and I keep it short and sweet. Like the book.

GordonW

MORIARTY

A book, which takes you along with it on its journey to God knows where is a book, which is worthy of recognition. But this book doesn’t need no recognition as thee name of the writer itself and the name of the particular character upon which this book is based is enough to make the book fanatics go bonkers.
Anthony Horowitz has dabbled in absolutely everything now. Teenage secret agents, to mystical GateKeepers, to Sherlock Holmes and the omnipotent James Bond.
The above mentioned is the third one on that list.
I’m sure many people have read this already, so for those people this is not exactly the most interesting read in the world.
The story takes place after Sherlock and Moriarty fall into the abyss of the great falls known as Reichenbach.
This is an excerpt from the paragraph written on the back of the book.
” The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind. ”
I think I can guess what one might think. As I myself thought that. That how could anyone beat the ‘criminality’ of Moriarty. Well, apparently someone has.
A Pinkerton agent from America comes to Reichenbach to witness the death of the greatest criminal mind the Arthur Conan Doyle world had ever seen. He is also after the ‘fiendish new criminal mastermind’ in the above written excerpt. That person’s (the criminal’s…not the agent’s) name is Clarence Devereux.  The Pinkerton fellow’s name is Frederick Chase. He is on the hunt for Clarence and happens upon an able detective by the name of Athelney Jones, of Scotland Yard.
So this Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard is a devout follower of Sherlock Holmes’ methods. Deduction and elementary are his bread and butter.
The journey takes us from Boston, Massachusetts USA to Switzerland to the whole of Britain. And the best part about this book is that you are really engrossed in looking for clues while reading. You basically imagine yourself there, beside Mr. Jones and Mr. Chase. They get tied up, tortured..( a little bit.), bombed and shot at.
This a book , a vivid book reader would have already read, and which the part timers should definitely try out.
PS:-  This might not be for the sensitive at heart. Other than that, absolutely nothing to worry about.

GordonW