by Lorie Lewis Ham
This week I am thrilled to be reviewing the latest mystery novel by Anthony Horowitz, The Twist of a Knife. We also have a delightful interview with Anthony! Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it.
The Twist of a Knife by Anthony Horowitz
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham
The Twist of a Knife is the fourth book in Anthony Horowitz’s wonderful series featuring former Metropolitan police detective Daniel Hawthorne and Anthony Horowitz–yes you read that correctly, Anthony has put himself in the books as the Watson to Hawthorne’s Holmes. In this series, Anthony has been asked to write about Hawthorne’s cases, and against his better judgment, agrees. He begins joining Hawthorne on his cases, not only writing about them but also participating in the investigations as well. This is a brilliant idea by what I consider to be one of the best crime writers of our time. I once saw an interview with Anthony where he stated that he is always looking for a new way to write a story which I think keeps his mysteries fresh and exciting!
In this book, Anthony has decided that he doesn’t want to write any more books with Hawthorne. He is just too busy with his other literary responsibilities, including his novel The Moonflower Murders (which I have also read and enjoyed) and his play Mindgame. The play just completed a tour and is about to open in the West End in London. Anthony does reluctantly invite Hawthorne to the opening night of his play, but Hawthorne seems uninterested.
Mindgame is at the heart of this story. In the real world, it was first performed in 1999 in Colchester and then in London, and was published in 2000. Having always wanted to write for the theatre, Anthony is excited and nervous, hoping that the audiences and critics will love Mindgame. Opening night goes well but the after party at a Turkish restaurant is ruined when Sunday Times critic Harriet Throsby and her daughter come to the party and stir up trouble. After they leave, Anthony, some of the actors, and the director, Ewan Lloyd, head back to the theatre for something stronger. Lead actress Sky Palmer’s phone buzzes and on it is Harriet’s review where she thrashes the play. Everyone is angry and harsh words about Harriet are said by many. Anthony is devastated.
The next morning Anthony awakes late with a hangover to be greeted at the door by DI Cara Grunshaw and DC Derek Mills, whom he doesn’t have a very good relationship with from his past cases with Hawthorne. Harriet Throsby has been stabbed to death and Anthony is being arrested for the murder. The murder weapon is a dagger with Anthony’s fingerprints all over it and they found a hair that they believe is his from the crime scene. The dagger is one of many that were given to the cast and Anthony by Ahmet, Mindgame’s producer, as a thank-you. But Anthony’s is the only one that is missing.
Anthony’s only hope is the man he just told he didn’t want to work with anymore. When he asks for Hawthorne’s help to find the real killer at first he says no, but thankfully he changes his mind, gets Anthony out of jail, and begins to investigate. While everyone in the cast and crew had a motive, along with several people in Harriet’s life as she was a horrible person, Anthony begins to fear there is no hope of him being cleared. Thankfully Hawthorne is one step ahead of everyone as always.
This book takes you behind the scenes of London theatre and behind the scenes of Anthony’s life. There are plenty of twists and turns that keep you guessing until the end. If you are a fan of Anthony’s work it is an extra bonus to get a glimpse into his real life—every once in a while when reading this series I have to stop and remind myself that this is fiction and that this hasn’t all really happened to Anthony! Or has it?
This is my favorite series and I think this may be my favorite book in the series, while I loved them all. I really liked the twist of Anthony being the accused—it made the book even harder to put down until you knew that Anthony was okay! Anthony Horowitz is an amazing writer and having him as the narrator of the book is delightful and brilliant! As the series continues, we are also beginning to learn more about Hawthorne, who is a very secretive person, and there is plenty of humor along the way. If you are not yet a fan of the work of Anthony Horowitz, it is time to start. I highly recommend this book, this series, and pretty much everything that he has done. While the mystery itself stands on its own, I encourage you to read the first 3 books in the series before reading The Twist of the Knife so you don’t miss out on any of the background of the characters.
Interview with Anthony Horowitz:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Anthony: A very long time! I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was ten years old and even at that early age I was scribbling away. I was published when I was 22 and have been going ever since…more than forty years.
KRL: What came first, writing novels or writing for TV? And what was the first TV show you wrote for?
Anthony: I started, strangely, with children’s books. I’m not sure why. I published seven or eight of them when I heard that they were looking for writers for a hugely popular TV series called Robin of Sherwood (starring Jason Connery). I sent in a script which was accepted and that was the start of my TV career. Amazing to think that Robin was watched each week by 12 million people in the UK!
KRL: When did your first novel come out and what was it called?
Anthony: My first novel, The Sinister Secret of Frederick K. Bower was published in August 1979 and is one of only three books of mine that is no longer in print.
KRL: What is harder—writing for TV or writing a novel?
Anthony: I don’t like the word ‘hard’. I always say that if it’s hard, something has gone wrong. The two forms are different, that’s all. Books are solitary, immersive – and can weigh you down with the sheer number of words. Everything belongs to you! TV is collaborative, what you are writing is a blueprint for a team of talented actors, technicians, and artists to work from. It’s a moveable feast demanding rewrites, budget issues, occasionally tricky producers. I enjoy writing them equally.
KRL: How did you come up with the idea for the Hawthorne series and why did you put yourself in the book as the narrator? (which I love by the way).
Anthony: Thank you. I wanted to play games with the whodunnit genre, to do things that had never been done before. Normally the writer is the cleverest person in the book. He or she knows who the killer is long before the murder is committed. By turning myself into the sidekick – Watson to Hawthorne’s Holmes – I became the most stupid person in the book. It also allowed me to comment on the whole nature of murder mystery, to question how these books are written and why they are enjoyed. I’m very happy that readers seem to be enjoying my relationship with Hawthorne if, personally, I often find him quite annoying.
KRL: Where did the idea come from for The Twist of a Knife?
Anthony: I wrote a play called Mindgame which was not kindly received by the critics…to put it mildly. The Twist of a Knife is not a work of revenge. I have no bad feelings towards critics of any sort. But it does draw on the experience of being at the receiving end of bad reviews. And I liked the idea of being the main suspect in a book. I need Hawthorne to save me but we’re not on good terms when the book starts and I worry he’s going to leave me in the lurch!
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?
Anthony: I write primarily to entertain. But I’d like to think that – having written for so many years – that there is some added value in the books. I never beat a drum but if you look at my work carefully you’ll see that all sorts of issues, from the environment to cancel culture to right wing politics. My last children’s book, Where Seagulls Dare, was actually a lament about Brexit! But I doubt if many children will have noticed.
KRL: What is your writing day like?
Anthony: I try to avoid set patterns. I don’t have a word count or a certain number of hours that I have to write. I tend to use a fountain pen for a first draft but I don’t have any rituals either. I work about nine or ten hours a day. I walk my Labrador dog, Chase, twice a day for three or four hours. I like to write looking at water if I can. I’m writing the answers to your questions, for example, overlooking the River Alde in Suffolk having just got back from a wonderful walk in Rendelsham Forest. Chocolate biscuits and tea are very much part of my working day.
KRL: Sounds lovely. Do you outline or are you a pantser?
Anthony: I’m a great believer in outlines. Sometimes the outline will take longer than the actual writing of the book (this was the case with Magpie Murders). An outline is like a map. It doesn’t restrict you. Quite the opposite. It shows you where you are and tells you all the different places you can go.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Anthony: A lesson for new writers. Getting published is not the end of the journey but the very start. I was published very quickly but I produced ten novels before I wrote my first bestseller (Stormbreaker – 2001). I think it’s probably much harder to get published now – and I worry that young writers will not be given as many chances as my publishers gave me.
Thank you so much Anthony for chatting with us! You can learn more about Anthony and his writing on his website.
To enter to win a copy of The Twist of a Knife, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “twist” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 17, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.
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