Century | 2021 (19 August) | 384p | Review copy | Buy the book
Former Detective Inspector Daniel Hawthorne and his biographer Anthony Horowitz are rather pleased when they are invited to a literary festival on the beautiful and quiet Channel Island of Alderney, although Anthony is a little surprised that Daniel agreed to it so readily. It’s almost as if he knew that they would soon be embroiled in a murder case that has the whole island locked down while the police (and Anthony and Daniel) seek out the killer. There is a fine selection of suspects among the festival attendees, speakers and organisers, not all of whom will leave the island alive. But who among them is the murderer?
I love this series so much and A Line to Kill, the third, is every bit as fun and engrossing as the previous novels, The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death. The concept is fabulous – the author as a character in his own novel, helping an enigmatic detective to solve murders, but often getting it all wrong while Daniel works it out. These books are wonderful, witty satires on all things literary, whether that’s authors, publishers, agents, reviewers or, in this case, literary festivals.
The Alderney setting is my favourite of all the locations in the novels, not least because I really want to go to the historical literary festival there one of these days (when I can conquer my terror of small planes), and I love the descriptions of the island. There is also a strong sense of history. The horrendous years of the Occupation during World War Two, when the island was prison to thousands of slave labourers and transformed into a fortress, cast a shadow over the novel and adds another fascinating element. The past cannot be forgotten.
I’m not going to give away anything about the plot, other than to say that the suspects are an incredible bunch of characters, including a blind psychic and a celebrity chef. They are a lot of fun to read about while Daniel Hawthorne is his usual aggravating self.
I love cosy, locked room whodunnits and I also like it when cosy crime is played with, as this series does so well. A Line to Kill is a thoroughly entertaining, clever and engrossing read, as are all of the novels I’ve read by this author. I really hope Anthony will assist Daniel Hawthorne in another case and very soon.