A Line To Kill
A Line to Kill is the third and latest installment in famed mystery writer Anthony Horowitz’s A Hawthorne and Horowitz series. This novel chronicles the exploits of former police detective, current P.I. David Hawthorne and the man hired to Hawthorne’s exploits and embellish his reputation is mystery novelist Anthony Horowitz. Yes, Anthony Horowitz is the author of books about Daniel Hawthorne as written by Anthony Horowitz. Quite a twist.
The book about the first adventure that the two had is due to be published. That book is not finished and falling behind deadlines. Hawthorne and Horowitz aren’t clicking. They don’t communicate well. The publisher believes that a jaunt to Alderney, a small island off the English coast to attend the islands first ever book festival, would be a good opportunity for writer and P.I. to interact and hopefully get the book completed.
Dutifully, the duo flies off to Alderney to prepare for the festival. The festival will be held the next day and features a program of 5 other presenters, a war historian expert in Alderney’s WWII occupation, a former TV chef now cookbook author and his assistant, a much beloved children’s author and a French performance poet. Hawthorne and Horowitz will appear last and be the “no book” book promoters.
As the festival is the next afternoon, the attendees are free to acquaint themselves with the island, the festival sights and learn the meaning of the BAN-NAB signs everywhere. BAN-NAB it seems refers to an issue splitting the populous. A French company (NAB) wants to construct a power line from France across Alderney and on to England. Promised to citizens of Alderney is inexpensive power but rumors of proposed destruction of property, and bribes have raised heated arguments and threats.
The day of the festival arrives and with it an invitation for all the presenters, many festival attendees and some invited guests to attend a cocktail party after the festival at the architecturally outstanding home of the wealthy businessman Charles Le Mesrier and his wife.
At the festival, the participants make their presentations and then answer questions from the audience. Unusual for a Book Festival, several questions are hostile, argumentative and personal. An odd question posed to Hawthorne piques Horowitz’s interest but Hawthorne claims the question was meaningless.
The session ends and all retire to change for the cocktail party. Whether by shuttle bus, on foot or in the one car on the island, the guests arrive at the Le Mesrier home. The magnificent modern mansion has wonderful views of the sea and a gorgeously decorated interior. Guests and host mingle and there are a few pointed exchanges, some personal, some political. As guests begin to depart, Charles Le Mesrier is nowhere about.
Next morning. Departure day! No. There will be no departures – none. Last evenings host has been found brutally murdered in the private ocean view hidaway.
As Alderney is so peaceful that it needs no police force, Daniel Hawthorne is asked to do preliminary investigations until a police force can be brought to the island.
Now we will get to see Hawthorne’s skills as he investigates the murder – oh wait – soon there will be another murder. Mrs. Le Mesrier will be murdered.
Weaving through conflicting stories, fake clues, odd events, twisted tales, and hidden agendas, Hawthorne with a bit (small bit) of help from Horowitz manages to piece together all the information and arrive at explanations for how the crimes were committed and importantly why the crimes were committed.
In all, this is an interesting read. The Anthony Horowitz writing the book – not the Anthony Horowitz in the book, knows how to construct a story that builds and leads you along sometimes turning you to the left when you should be looking to the right but all along the journey is interesting. The purpose of the Alderney trip is not met. Hawthorne and Horowitz do not become fast friends, sharing inside stories and palling around. But there is a tiny bit of of communication between them. A good sign for another book?