It was both fun and fitting to have award-winning mystery author and writing instructor Lori Rader-Day join our discussion on Anthony Horowitz’s meta-mystery, The Word is Murder. It gave us the chance to see how Horowitz’s use of himself as author and lead character would strike a fellow mystery writer in addition to our group as readers.
We all talked about how Sherlockian it was of Horowitz to use this approach, and that from our previous reading of The House of Silk and knowledge of the follow up book, Moriarty, we know he’s got in-depth experience and a fondness for Holmes and Watson. Lori commented on how skillfully Horowitz inserts himself into the story without taking anything away from his lead detective, Daniel Hawthorne.
We also found his inclusion of events that could really have happened in his life and career made the story more immediate and believable, while also making us question if the events were fictionalized life occurrences, or if he’d really made them up entirely. Some of the things we thought ran true included his meeting with Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg, and his visit to the set of Foyle’s War. We had some fun with this “reality” by tracing Horowitz’s comment about how the actor Charlie Creed-Miles, “was remarkably similar [physically]” to his protagonist, Daniel Hawthorne – which gave us a “real” look at Hawthorne when we passed around the IMDb picture of this actor!
While it is possible some of the character Horowitz could be seen as self-indulgence for the author Horowitz, the fact that the character makes major mistakes and at times shows character flaws in an unflattering light, keep character Horowitz an honest narrator, and a sympathetic character.
We also talked about how the majority of the character were not particularly appealing, and that Daniel Hawthorne specifically was not likeable. Some of us attributed that to Hawthorne’s resemblance to Holmes (who can also be unlikeable at times). We also thought it gives Horowitz the author some room for character growth, as this is the first in a series.
Overall, all attendees – including Lori! – liked the book, and loved having Lori participate with us in talking about it. We also reminded attendees that Murder and Mayhem in Chicago, the wonderful, one-day mystery con that Lori co-hosts, is still accepting registrations. (The Sisters in Crime-based luncheon is unfortunately full.) It will be held on Saturday, March 21st.
Not only did Lori participate in our discussion, she signed up for our Winter Read program -- & has earned her mug! Many thanks to her – and small wonder she’s one of the group’s favorites.
Lori also had a chance to play with Rufio the therapy dog who was helping to de-stress teens facing finals. He was a hit with everyone!