In the first book in this series, The Word Is Murder, Horowitz took the unusual step of placing himself in the book as the narrator, melding his real life with this fictional life as a writer engaged to write about PI Daniel Hawthorne's cases. This made for delightful and amusing reading as Horowitz stumbles through the case in the wake of Hawthorne's somewhat more astute detective work. I wasn't sure how well this would work in a second episode but am happy to report that if anything it worked even better the second time around.
The case this time involves a high profile divorce lawyer, Richard Pryce, a teetotaler bashed with an expensive bottle of wine and then stabbed to death with broken glass from the bottle. On the wall above the body the killer painted the number 182 in green paint. At the time Pryce had been involved in a major case involving a celebrity writer, Akira Anno, who immediately becomes their main suspect, as she was recently witnessed pouring a glass of wine over Pryce's head in a popular restaurant and then threatening to hit him with the bottle. Or could that just be what the police are meant to think? Baffled they call in ex-dectective, PI Hawthorne and his biographical sidekick Horowitz to investigate.
Hawthorne is filling out more as a character in this second outing. Horowitz is still trying to fathom him out and find out more about his secretive past and current life but Hawthorne remains antisocial and unforthcoming. His investigative style reminds me a little of the 1970s TV detective Columbo - a bumbling, grumpy sort of character, giving little away but thinking deeply and two steps ahead of everyone else, particularly Horowitz who frequently upsets Hawthorne by putting his foot in at the wrong time in Hawthorne's interviews. As before Horowitz weaves into the story his real life activities, writing episodes for 'Foyle's War' with Hawthorne blustering onto the set with little regard for the film crew. Horowitz also loves to poke fun at himself, depicting himself as hopeless at detective work. What results is a clever, gentle murder mystery reminiscent of the golden age of crime writing. As Horowitz has been contracted (fictionally) to write three books covering Hawthorne's cases, I look forward with eager anticipation to the next episode.