Plot or Premise
A fictionalized “true” story of the author observing a brilliant detective attempting to solve the murder of a woman who went in to plan her funeral and was murdered the same day.
What I Liked
The premise of the story of the woman planning her funeral and then being murdered was a great Agatha Christie-style plot, more so than Sherlock Holmes. Yet the writing arrangement of Horowitz as Watson and Hawthrone as Holmes works reasonably well, even if Hawthorne is more prickly and flawed. Lots of different characters to meet. While I figured out several red herrings and had most of the clues assembled at the end, I didn’t quite interpret them the way the final answer is given.
What I Didn’t Like
There are three things in the story that bothered me. First and foremost, Horowitz has inserted himself as the narrator as if the premise is real. It’s a bit gimmicky, but if you ignore that, and treat it as if it was a fictionalized person, the premise works okay but not great. Yet as a result, he pulls in various people he knows in real life, and of course they are treated with kid gloves. All positive words, meeting people like Spielberg for instance, no chance he might be sued. Second, Horowitz or his fictionalized version is downright whiny. He complains about everything. He reads like a self-righteous child in many places. Third, there is a premise introduced very early on, and not only does it not play out the way it was described, the real explanation is done only through assumption and speculation. It didn’t feel like the book played fair with that clue, or the character. Equally, the ending has a lot of exposition that implies “this is the only explanation” but there were several other equally plausible solutions.
The Bottom Line
Interesting premise, average mystery, soft ending