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HELLO! Book Club: Anthony Horowitz's new whodunit puts author right into the story

HELLO! sat down with Anthony Horowitz to discuss his new novel, The Word is Murder

anthony horowitz
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
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For his younger audience, Anthony Horowitz is best known as the author of the bestselling Alex Rider series, which follows the adventures of a teenage spy. For boxset fans, he is the creator of Foyle's War and BBC's New Blood. However, over the past few years, the author has become very much established as a murder mystery writer, with hits including Sherlock Holmes novels House of Silk and Moriarty and 2016's Magpie Murders under his belt. In his latest and possibly most risky move into the genre, Anthony has put a new twist on the detective novel by writing himself into the book. The Anthony in the book shadows Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant detective, and attempts to help him solve a particularly interesting case about a woman who is murdered just six hours after planning her own funeral.

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When HELLO! Online sat down with Anthony to discuss the new release, we were curious to find out how much the Anthony of the novel was true to the author. After all, Anthony blurs the lines between fiction and reality by writing about much of his own life while bringing the fictional detective into the fold. In one particularly memorable scene, Anthony recounts a dinner with two famous filmmakers when Hawthorne barges in and ruins the encounter. "It wasn't in London and I'm not saying it's exactly how I wrote it, but then a fictitious character knocks on the door and imposes himself and turns the meeting completely on its head while sort of destroying my career," Anthony said of the scene. "It's sort of done with a smile and tongue-in-cheek."

Anthony Horowitz 3 c Jon Cartwright

Speaking about the risk of including himself in the novel, he said: "I wanted to do a series of whodunits with a character called Daniel Hawthorn, but I wanted to do it a way that hadn't been done before, I wanted to find a twist, something that would completely subvert the genre and give people added pleasure." He continued: "So I had this idea of getting rid of the author or rather taking him off the top of the hill and putting him in the valley of the book… I suddenly realised if I became a ghost writer to a detective it would totally change my relationship to the crime and to the book I was writing and to the character and to everything."

The Word is Murder

However, Anthony was clearly aware of appearing self-indulgent by writing himself into the novel, adding: "The most important thing to say is that this is not a book about me. I'm a sidekick, I am not the main character and there isn't a great deal about me in there, but think about it. If you read Sherlock Holmes how much do you really know about Watson? Very little…  So in The Word is Murder, I'm a writer, yes, I work on Foyle's War and I've worked with well-known directors and producers and such and I'm married to someone called Jill and I have two sons but I don't want people to think I'm either interested in myself in some ways, like... saying what a wonderful human being I am or anything of that sort of thing! I am a not terribly good sidekick. In fact, one of the pleasures of the book was how much I get wrong."

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So how many books will be in the series? According to Anthony, the adventures of Hawthorne could turn into several novels. He told HELLO!: "I don't know. I said with Alex Rider there would be a certain number and then I broke my own promise by doing an extra one so I'm not going to be encumbered and commit myself to how many - but I do see it as being a fairly long-running series; eight, nine, ten, something like that."

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