Review: The Sentence is Death // But the Review is a Rave

Review by Mary Kat

  • Rating: šŸ˜»šŸ˜»šŸ˜»šŸ˜» /5
  • Recommend for: Fans of whodunnits and those in mood for a light, fun read
Good advice for murder mysteries: watch your step (and your back)


The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz is the second in the Hawthorne series and manages to surpass its predecessor. As usual for this series, Anthony Horowitz (the fictionalized version of the author) appears alongside detective Hawthorne and serves as a rather clumsy, apologetic sidekick (and excellent documentarian, as even Hawthorne is forced to admit).

Horowitz is more bumbling than most, but wholly charming and endearing in his mistakes. Hawthorne is an aloof detective who commissioned Horowitz to document his adventures as a consultant to the police.

In this episode, the two are faced with the death of a divorce lawyer, beaten to death with an expensive bottle of wine. The lawyer Richard Pryce is a man with many enemies, and he was recently the recipient of a very public threat — one that turned out to forecast the murder itself.

All The Best

As can be expected with most Horowitz novels, the twists are many, and there are always more puzzles in store. I found this episode to be particularly successful because the conclusion is clever, unforeseen, and neatly wrapped up. The characters are distinctive and memorable, anchored by the over-the-top Akira Anno (an author with a mystical streak and some financial secrets) and DI Cara Grunshaw (a bully with her eyes on Horowitz). These characters make for a hilarious backdrop as the detectives work the case.

In particular, I found fictional Horowitz to be wholly lovable in this episode. Horowitz is perpetually on the wrong foot and disrupting Hawthrone’s investigation, and as such, he is a delightful and relatable surrogate for the audience’s perspective. He lives out much as I’d expect my own contributions to be in his situation.

Not My Favorite

We don’t learn much more about the cold Hawthorne during this mystery, except that he is even more intrusive in Horowitz’s personal affairs than we might have guessed, and overall Hawthorne remains as unknowable as he appeared in The Word is Murder (#1 in the Hawthorne series). Nevertheless, they have a strange chemistry, and the pair has convinced me to tune in for his next adventure.


You might have noticed my use of the word “episode” throughout this review, and I do believe that episode is the correct word here. These novels are like episodes of a fast-paced whodunnit of the week: light and consumable in one sitting.

When I’m in the mood for a satisfying mystery, Horowitz and Hawthorne have delivered in the past, and they continue to be a successful, pleasurable read here. Never too heady, and perfect for escapism after a long day of work.

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