I read mysteries. I love the genre, and have done so ever since starting out at a young age with Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown, Hercule Poirot and the rest of them. I wrote a couple myself. They’re a part of my literary heritage. So it was with pleasure that I read an early birthday gift from my son, “A Line to Kill” by the prolific British writer Anthony Horowitz–and wrote the following brief appreciation:
I enjoyed reading this conventional mystery with a twist by Anthony Horowitz. I have enjoyed much of his work, including the great television drama “Foyle’s War.” “A Line to Kill” plays with two conventions: the well-loved, polite British mystery genre pioneered by the likes of Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh, and the Sherlock Holmes genius detective with a clueless Watson on the side. The twist is that the Watson character is a stand-in for the author himself, one Anthony Horowitz.
So yes, a lot of fun. We have the familiar limited cast of potential suspects in the familiar confined space—in this case an island, the island of Alderney in the picturesque Channel Islands between England and France, still haunted by the ghosts of a brutal German occupation during WWII. Each one is a distinctive, somewhat eccentric “character,” and each provided with a plausible (well, some rather implausible, but who cares, really?) motive for the two successive (and obviously related) murders of the usual despicable characters. Any violence occurs off-scene, in the wings and our genius detective pursues his investigation despite the clumsy efforts of local police while Anthony/Watson looks on with a mix of admiration and approbation and forms his own misguided notions.
All in good fun. Horowitz writes with humor and panache, and provides us with the familiar collapsing series of possible solutions that lead to the final surprise. Well, not really a big surprise, because any reader of mysteries knows very well that the first solution is never to be trusted. There is always more to come.