The Sentence is Death is the second book in the Private Detective Hawthorne series. If you have not read the first book of the series and have no idea what to expect (like me), this book will totally blow you away. The Sentence is Death is not a police procedural nor is it a thriller. It’s a good old murder mystery, much in the mold of Sherlock & Hercule Poirot, and that’s what makes it so special.
The Sentence is Death deals with the murder of celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce who is bludgeoned to death with an expensive bottle of wine. Even more bizarre is the three-digit number painted on the wall beside the corpse. Now it’s up to Pvt Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his compatriot (and the tale’s narrator) Anthony Horowitz to solve the mystery.
The author has taken the unusual step of placing himself in the book- playing both the narrator and the Hawthorne’s companion – much like Watson or Hastings. The mystery is much like a Poirot mystery, set in modern times. With a lineup of suspects and each having the means and motivation to commit the crime, guessing the murderer is not easy. Like a kaleidoscope, the picture in front of you keeps changing, the moment you change your point of view.
Like a skilled narrator, Horowitz (both the writer and the narrator in the book) keep guiding the readers through the maze of clues while Hawthorne keeps his theories mostly to himself. There are countless twists and turns, which keep the needle of suspicion moving from suspect to another. Just when you think you have figured out the killer, the entire story changes right before your eyes. So even as you want to to find out what happens next, a part of you never wants the story to end. There is plenty of amusing dialogue and humor to keep things light. The final reveal is logical but not too convincing to say the least.
Coming to the characters, Horowitz comes off as a genuine and endearing character. He acts as a guide to the readers, reminding the readers of long-forgotten clues and even coming up with his own solution (read the book to know more about it). Hawthorne is, on the other hand, is reserved, rude, politically incorrect and not much of nice guy at all. But much like Sherlock, you start to admire his intelligence as the story goes on. As an investigation duo, Hawthorne and Horowitz really complement each other.
Overall, The Sentence is Death is an engaging and entertaining murder mystery. With an excellent plot, some brilliant characters and many surprises, this book is a perfectly crafted mystery.
I loved the first book in the series and this one is even better than the last. This time we learn a little bit more about Hawthorne as wellx although he remains as much a mystery as ever. The mystery is so much exciting and runs smoothlybfrom cover to cover. Although i must say by the end, i was able to guess who might have been the killer, i loved every twist and turn. Highly recommended. Looking forward to further books in the series and really hoping that unlike hinted in the two books, there will not be just three in the series.