Cover detail from A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz

A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz

I am very pleased to report that our family book group is still going strong. We started this in lockdown when, quite by chance, it turned out we all wanted to read the same book. There has been controversy, (Death and Croissants remains unread), new genres explored (The Caves of Steel) and a book that kept us talking for a few months and found its way into many friend's Christmas parcels (American Dirt)

Read my review of Caves of Steel

Read my review of American Dirt

And now it was the turn of an author that we all love - Anthony Horowitz. A Line to Kill is the third book in the Anthony Horowitz/Daniel Hawthorne series. How did it fare?

The Plot

Private investigator Daniel Hawthorne and the writer Anthony Horowitz have been invited to a literary festival on the island of Alderney to talk about their new book. Very soon they discover that dark forces are at work.
There has never been a murder on the tiny island of Alderney. But as writers gather for a new literary festival, a killer lies in wait.
An island full of secrets is about to become an island full of suspects.

My Thoughts

A quick note, this is the third in the series to feature Daniel Hawthorne. The book can be read as a standalone, but I would recommend starting with the first book, The Word is Murder. This introduces the characters and the premise and is just a plain, old cracking read.

I have really enjoyed this series and they are really quite unique as it is one of the few books to feature the author as a character himself. This really puts a new spin on the traditional crime novel and I love it. We learn about publicity meetings at Penguin, how marketing is planned, and the pressures that authors can be under to release the book. For anyone looking to become an author, it is a fascinating glimpse into this world.

The crime is great fun with an eclectic selection of suspects. A blind psychic and her devoted husband, a jovial celebrity chef and his personal assistant. A fragile fellow crime author as well as the residents of Alderney all with an axe to grind with the eventual murder victim.

For me it is Hawthorne who is the stand-out character (sorry Anthony!). He is almost Holmes-ian in his observations and character sketches. And there is an unknown quantity about him. Anthony Horowitz feels he knows next to nothing about Hawthorne, who chooses to keep himself private and so Hawthorne becomes an enigma. We see glimpses, Hawthorne's reason for becoming a policeman for example being a very telling observation. At one point I did find myself wondering if Anthony and Hawthorne were one and the same person. Clearly I have been reading too many psychological thrillers.

What I did find interesting was in the first two novels, Anthony was keen to become Hawthorne's friend even when Hawthorne was cagey and brusque. In this novel it seemed almost as if Anthony had become fed up with Hawthorne and their relationship had become very abrasive. Hawthorne was held less in awe now. I felt a bit sad about this, and also a bit sorry for Anthony.

Overall our reading group very much enjoyed the book. I know I needed to read something like this after wading through the first half of Anna Karenina! We did guess who the murderer was, which as you know is unheard of for me. And we loved the storyline of a literary festival. We agreed it wasn't our favourite in the series, but was an extremely enjoyable read all the same.

The next Hawthorne mystery, The Twist of a Knife is due out in August. I have no doubt all family book club members will be picking up a copy.