This is a very meta murder mystery, in which Anthony Horowitz becomes a character in his own writing. (It is left up to you to decide how much of his “real life” that we see in the book is like his own real life, but I’m just going to presume background and biographical details are all true, though presumably if he ever actually had a meeting with Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg about writing a Tin Tin sequel, it wasn’t disastrously interrupted by a rude police detective.) Horowitz the character is approached by Daniel Hawthorne, a detective he knows from when he consulted on a TV show Horowitz was working on, and he doesn’t really like the guy. But Hawthorne wants to strike up a partnership: he wants Horowitz to be his chronicler and write about him, just like Watson did for Holmes, putting aside the fact that Holmes was fictional, even in this universe. Horowitz says no, until Hawthorne uses the bizarre death of a woman who planned her own funeral hours before she was killed to lure him in.
It’s been too long since I’ve read this for me to recall any details, but the whole thing was full of in-jokes about the genre and its character types, as well as trope reversals, and Hawthorne himself, who was seemingly designed to foil almost any expectation a reader could desire in a murder mystery detective. He’s brash and unlikable, but not in a romantic or interesting way; he’s not showy, he’s sour and homophobic (this is the detail I don’t know what to do with; it clearly makes Horowitz very uncomfortable, and thankfully he confronts Hawthorne about it, but not to any satisfying conclusion).
It was an interesting reading experience, if nothing else, and I’m starting the sequel tomorrow, which is why I’m finally getting around to writing this review.
[3.5 stars, rounding up]