Book review of Close to Death by Anthony Horowitz


In Close to Death, the fifth installment of his meta Hawthorne and Horowitz mystery series, Anthony Horowitz delivers another diabolically complex whodunit, rife with misdirection and murder.

When an obnoxious resident of the ritzy and otherwise close-knit Riverside Close neighborhood is murdered, law enforcement officials are puzzled. The remaining residents of the luxury community immediately close ranks—they all had motive to kill the unlikable Giles Kenworthy. So London officials call on former detective-turned-private investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his partner, John Dudley, to solve the sensational crime. Within weeks, the case is closed. Five years later, writer Anthony Horowitz is getting desperate. He’s written four crime novels with Hawthorne, mostly by following the prickly detective and chronicling his work. Now though, Horowitz has a looming publishing deadline for their next book, but the pair haven’t solved a case in months. He asks Hawthorne to revisit the already-solved Kenworthy case for an easy-to-write, ready-made mystery. But Hawthorne withholds almost as much information as he shares, and Horowitz realizes there’s much more to this case.

Horowitz (the real-life writer, not the character in his books) is a master of intricately plotted and deeply satisfying mysteries, and Close to Death is no exception. This fifth installment in the Hawthorne and Horowitz series is structured very differently than the previous works: Rather than having the fictional Horowitz follow Hawthorne’s sleuthing in real time, the pair are reviewing a long-closed case. Still, Horowitz is in the dark for much of the novel, trying to make sense of Hawthorne’s brief recaps and terse explanations. Horowitz is also deeply curious about Dudley, Hawthorne’s previous assistant. Why did the pair stop working together? Did it have something to do with the Kenworthy murder? Readers will enjoy following Horowitz as he works to unravel the many mysteries that surround this particular case.

Close to Death offers a supremely engrossing and expertly plotted mystery that will challenge and delight even the most well-read mystery fans. Suspects include two former nuns, a celebrity dentist, a landscaper and a chess champion, all of whom have secrets to hide. The clues are there for readers to find, hidden in this Agatha Christie-style mystery. This installment may be the strongest book yet in the superb series.

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