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The Word Is Murder

Narrated by: Rory Kinnear
Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

She planned her own funeral. But did she arrange her murder?

Buried secrets, murder and a trail of bloody clues lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz's new detective series. If you enjoyed BBC's Sherlock, you'll love The Word is Murder!

A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she's arranged her own funeral.

A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own.

A reluctant author drawn into a story he can't control.

What do they have in common?

©2017 Anthony Horowitz (P)2017 Random House Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"The beguiling whodunit plot is dispatched with characteristic elan as Horowitz blurs the line between fact and fiction." ( Financial Times)
"A very clever and inventive mystery." ( Bookbag)
"With its unorthodox protagonist, clever plotting, brilliantly imperfect characters, and escalating sense of urgency and intrigue, The Word Is Murder is an instant crime classic that will keep you reading as fast as you can...one of the best and most compulsively readable mysteries of the year. Hugely satisfying on every level." ( Written by Sime)
"Will undoubtedly exhilarate not only crime and Horowitz fans but anyone who enjoys the sense of metafiction and fourth wall breaking found in books by authors like Lemony Snicket, Bret Easton Ellis and Martin Amis." ( Fiendfully Reading)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Brilliant!

What made the experience of listening to The Word Is Murder the most enjoyable?

A masterfully crafted book by Horowitz and shifts the genre of whodunits by blending in fiction with non-fiction. The central protagonist is the author himself here and over the course of the book, weaves in a murder mystery skillfully introducing the grump detective Hawthorne and a paraphernalia of characters, Christie-style with Holmesian bits thrown in. All in all, a fine and dandy book to read and would tax your grey cells a bit.

Also, brilliant narration! Kudos

Who was your favorite character and why?

The author and Detective Hawthorne, of course

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A disappointment

I bought this based purely on the rave reviews, having never encountered the author's work before, but just couldn't get past the first hour.
This is not at all the kind of book I was expecting; it reads like the -very uninteresting- memoirs of a television writer (and going back and re-reading those rave reviews, I suppose that is indeed partly true), and I'm led to believe that this literary device is meant to be somehow "meta", or "post" or even witty!
Sadly, for this reader, it's none of those, it's merely self-indulgent and alienating.
The narrator's flat delivery does little to enliven the dreariness.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Whodunnit out of the top drawer

Watch out for those clues! A detective fiction master class. Excellent narration rounds off a superb story

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An addictive read

This is my first introduction to Anthony Horowitz. This was a witty fast paced and quintessential British listen. Daniel Hawthorne enters and dominants the book. All the while we know very little about him. In this we are pulled along on the murder of an elderly woman who six hours prior, made her funeral arrangements. There are quite a few family secrets that are revealed. And it goes in directions that are quite unexpected.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Rory Kinnear. His voice range for male characters was spot on. It was easy to differentiate between characters. He is well-suited for this book.

Would recommend to those who love British crime works or those who like mysteries with a literary bent. This will not disappoint. Plus the next book in series is due out later this year.

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great listen !

Where does The Word Is Murder rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the most enjoyable.

Any additional comments?

I loved 'Magpie Murders' and I truly enjoyed this one, too. Good story, well told and narrated - my kind of thing.

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  • Sarah
  • 08-30-17

The Unemployed Detective

What did you like most about The Word Is Murder?

Great story line, and an unusual approach, so it's part autobiography and part fiction. I liked Horowitz's musings on the world of literature, film and TV. I'm guessing that a lot of of his anecdotes involving famous names are true. And there are probably some in-jokes that went below my radar. Weaved into this is a great story involving an unemployed detective investigating murder with the help, or hindrance, of Horowitz. Some red herrings, plenty of clues to whodunnit and some laugh out loud moments as well I have enjoyed Horowitz's other novels, including his Magpie Murders and takes on Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, and his TV series,such as Foyle's War. I'm even tempted to try his Alex Rider novels for teenagers!I could also see this working as a TV programme, which I'd definitely watch.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Word Is Murder?

Knowing that I'd got the right person, though not the reason

Have you listened to any of Rory Kinnear’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Rory was one of the reasons why I chose this book, as he's an excellent actor, whom I can picture while he's telling the story. He can drop into different accents so it's easy to telll characters apart.

Also, he does a good line in slightly baffled characters and that perfectly fits the author's role in this novel.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, it got me hooked in, and I found myself thinking about the characters and the storyline between listening.

Any additional comments?

Definitely think The Unemployed Detective is a better title.... hope there are more novels from Horowitz about this partnership

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-10-17

Perfect piece of story telling.

This little masterpiece is a gem. The perfect marriage of a talented author and a gifted narrator. I could listen to Rory Kinnear read Anthony Horowitz all day long. In fact I think I will.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 09-04-17

The Intriguing Mr Horowitz

I have to say I am really enjoying following this author recently. His latest books have been varied and each has had a distinct character and quirkiness that I have enjoyed. I'm sure that if he keeps up this approach that there will be one that won't quite resonate with me as much as the others eventually, but it hasn't happened yet. In this case he has tried something which I am sure a lot of authors have toyed with but likely been warned off by sensible publishers and editors! including yourself in a work of fiction is certainly a bold step with many pitfalls. Luckily for us I think Horowitz has avoided at least the large majority of them and this emerges as an interesting whodunit in its own right.

After reading the Magpie Murders I commented then that it felt to me like there might be a hint of the autobiographical about it but this takes it to another level. I couldn't help musing about how much of this was based on the author's real-life experiences. For example did he ever get passed over for a big part in a play? What does add to the interest level though is that the author appears to reveal some of his thinking and while I didn't agree with all the opinions expressed it does add something. Mr Horowitz is clearly on an exciting journey with his writing, I'm really looking forwards to following in his footsteps.

Kinnear, is simply perfect providing the voices for this. He is very accomplished making the whole thing a very pleasurable listen. Finally I have to agree with Sarah's review that this does indeed feel "made for TV", I wonder if that's also part of the intent.

22 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • lisasarcy
  • 08-27-17

Enthralling

I started this with some trepidation, the idea of a novel with its own writer as a character in a fictional story had the potential to be a bit of a car crash. But he really did pull it off. The elements of reality and fiction were pulled together neatly, and I really enjoyed all the overt, and the more subtle, nods to the conventions and the works of the Greats of the Detective genre.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • adelenotthesinger
  • 08-26-17

horowitz and kinnear-a great combination

Had this been a print book i might have skim read a paragraph here and there and missed an important connection. Kinnears marvelous narration kept me focussed on the intricacies of the plot. This is a very well unusually crafted as well as beautifully written detective story. Horowitz's stories will stand the test of time at least as well as Agatha Christie or Conan Doyle from whom he draws inspiration.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-10-17

great book

really enjoyed this book great story great characters really hope there will be alot more

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Donna Mac
  • 09-14-17

Fabulous!

I enjoyed this even more than The Magpie Murders, which I loved. Initially I was unsure about the author himself appearing in the book, but I think that this was, in the end, part of the appeal. It is a wonderful story, very convincing, and a plot of which Agatha Christie herself would have been proud.
Hawthorne and Horowitz make a very appealing detective duo.
The narration by Rory Kinnear is outstanding, one of the best I have heard.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • cwhite
  • 09-01-17

Superb!

I loved Magpie Murders, this is even better Mr Horowitz. If You really are a fan of Agatha Christie, you have eclipsed her with this unique, well-written, humorous piece.
Hurry up and write your next please!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-22-19

Lovely from start to finish

I first purchased Magpie Murders and was delighted with how Anthony Horowitz played around with the narration - very fresh. However, it was almost surreal how he takes that 10 steps further in this book. In retrospect, perhaps this was an ode to the genre on which the main characters were focused (true crime), but the level to which the author took it fascinated me (for instance, what would Mr. Spielberg have to say of his portrayal). Nice build-up and nice twists. In particular, I loved that Hawthorne was such a difficult character to take to, yet was so infuriatingly good at his job (and in contrast, how Mr. Horowitz was willing to admit his sleuthing skills were somewhat off the mark). I enjoyed this so much that I am going through some of the Sherlock books by Mr. Horowitz, putting off as long as possible Detective Hawthorne Book #2.

As always, Rory Kinnear was fabulous. And at times, I honestly forgot it was him - he just melted into the characters.

For those interested in mystery fiction, it can be quite hard to find a really decent novel (i.e., one that does not insult your intelligence). This book was a "hidden" gem.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • M.G.
  • 08-12-18

Clever book

Very clever, keeps you thinking and a nice dry humour. I highly recommend it : sadly the narrator didn’t work for me , his voice was too harsh .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ruth
  • 01-29-18

Unengaging, I wouldn't bother.

Although I persisted I lost interest in this audiobook very early.  Both the major characters are dull and somewhat two dimensional as are the minor character. The story meanders but doesn’t really go anywhere to the end when multiple twist occur. There are a lot of minor character and because the story dis boring and somewhat disjointed it can at time be hard to follow as I kept finding my mind going elsewhere. Disappointing!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • vicster
  • 04-15-19

So clever. So, so clever. Well done Mr Horowitz.

This is a memorable book deconstructing and then reconstructing the art of writing a murder mystery. It is so cleverly done, that the red herrings and blatant clues become substituted for each other until you try to second guess yourself. I take my hat off to you Mr Horowitz. Your servant Sir.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amy
  • 11-24-18

Not what I expected

I tried this book because I really enjoyed magpie murders and house of silk but this one is quite different and not as enjoyable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Aussielee
  • 09-16-19

Highly entertaining

Until reading this book, I knew Anthony Horowitz only vaguely. I knew he was English and had written the Alex Rider series of books aimed at teenage boys. I also knew he had written books for adults, published fanfic, written with permission, using the famous characters of Conan-Doyle and Ian Fleming. I knew nothing else about him really. After reading The Word is Murder, I now feel like we're old friends. You see, Anthony Horowitz, the writer, is actually the main character of this book written by Anthony Horowitz.

I’m not sure what the technical name for inserting yourself into your own book is but it’s one of those ideas that readers will either love or hate. I can see some readers thinking it’s an arrogant and crap idea. Others, of course, will think it’s brilliant. I’m going to waver somewhere in the middle. However, I will positively say I found The Word is Murder highly entertaining.

Let’s talk about Horowitz first. Horowitz, the character, is very likeable. He’s well read (duh), humble and down to earth considering his considerable success, funny, intelligent, and comes across as modern and politically correct. He doesn’t really have any flaws and maybe some readers might see this as a flaw in itself. Maybe his flaw is that he's not fictional or that Horowitz is lying and he is completely fictional. We'll never know.

Even though Horowitz is using himself as a character, he does channel Dr Watson throughout. He’s the polite pacifist of the piece, the sidekick who isn’t actually a detective, just the friend who tags along and spends most of his time exasperated at his detective mate’s behaviour. Again, I can understand why some readers might find this just as exasperating.

His ‘Sherlock’ is ex-DI Hawthorne. I assume Hawthorne, unlike Horowitz, is completely fictional. But of course, Horowitz writes the book as if he’s real.

Like Holmes, Hawthorne is very intelligent when it comes to detecting but his social skills are severely lacking. He’s a little more rough around the edges than Holmes but he is just as arrogant and imperious. He constantly makes demands and wants the entire investigation to be done his way. He should be annoying. But Horowitz, the author, writes him with such a deft touch, you can’t help but like him.

So, the book has Horowitz and Hawthorne investigating a murder, with Horowitz writing about them investigating the murder along the way. Or is it Horowitz writing about Horowitz writing about he and Hawthorne investigating a murder… Anywho, the murder plot itself was great. It starts with a woman being murdered a few hours after going into a funeral parlour to organise her own funeral. This may or may not be a coincidence but it is enough to get everyone interested in the case, including the police hierarchy who employ Hawthorne as a ‘consultant’ when they fail to solve the case.

The book has all the usual hallmarks of a good mystery -- lots of suspects to choose from, red herrings and misdirection, and a plausible ending with just a touch of a twist. If you read mysteries for the mystery plot, this one won’t disappoint.

Conveniently, several of the book's supporting cast of characters are actors which gives Horowitz the character (and writer?) the opportunity to talk about his other books and tv shows. He particularly focuses on Foyle’s War. I always thought this show was for people of my mother’s age (that is, to insult her, the elderly -- don’t worry, mum doesn’t understand the internet or social media, so there’s no chance she’ll ever read this. Plus, if she’s now elderly, that makes me decidedly old! LOL). After reading The Word is Murder and hearing all the insider gossip about the show, however, I now am quite curious and interested in watching it. So, already, Horowitz using himself as a character has worked because I’ve fallen into the cross promotion trap.

I also have to mention the humour of this book. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed out loud at this book. The dry wit used throughout was hilarious. I listened to the audio version and I have to give a shout out to the narrator, Rory Kinnear. He was probably the best male narrator I’ve come across since I started listening to that format.

Despite the strength of the humour and the crime plot, I know it will be the Horowitz being part of a Horowitz novel most people will talk about though. I'm trying to wonder whether or not it would work just as well if Horowitz simply used a character who was a writer but kept that character completely fictional and original. I’m not sure… I suppose less people would have talked about the book with this more conventional idea. And I also supposed some people would think Horowitz was talking about himself anyway if he’d called his writer Joe Blow or John Smith. It’s a catch 22. Damned if you do or don’t. So, in the end, I decided he probably made the right choice and plunged right in.

For me, even though I wavered on how much I loved or hated this writing equivalent of an infinity mirror, I still loved the book and give it 5 out of 5.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-25-19

A fun who dunnit

A fun 1st person narrative, modern take on the classic who dunnit. The narrator is a tad weird when doing women's voices.

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  • Peter Gray
  • 04-13-18

A Killer Plot...and a Great Ending

What made the experience of listening to The Word Is Murder the most enjoyable?

The perfect matching of a storyline by Antony Horowitz and narration by Rory Kinnear made this an absolutely pleasurable experience. Anthony Horowitz brings his vast experience from film, TV and his children's books to create a really novel (pun intended) story which keeps its secrets right to the end. One of his best.

What other book might you compare The Word Is Murder to, and why?

Very comparable to Magpie Murders (another Horowitz hit) in the way it brings the reader/listener into the plot.

What about Rory Kinnear’s performance did you like?

Superb narration. The character voices were totally believable and added atmosphere to the storyline.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

No better plot undertaken.

Any additional comments?

With a great range of credits to his name, I now make a point of looking out for books/audiobooks from Anthony Horowitz.

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  • Michael Stringer
  • 02-26-18

Wonderful satire

With a delicate touch and a strong current of self mockery, Tony Horowitz takes the mickey out of detective fiction. By portraying as a ‘true’ story, and soaking it through with contemporary references to popular culture, he slowly pulled me into a captivating story.

Then he steadily descends into subtle farce. The portrayal of the funeral and various family homes visited particularly set the flavor of the book. The denouement acts like the red nose on a clown. It signifies what we are reading.

I got through my listen in 2 days; a clear sign of engrossed enjoyment. I recommend the fun.

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  • amanda
  • 12-18-17

Very clever. Thoroughly enjoyable.

So clever of Horowitz to use crime writing as the premise, casting himself as a Watson character was inspired..loved Hawthorne...reader was brilliant.

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  • Claire Bentley
  • 12-04-17

Boring

This would have been a good story if not told by the author! Too much about himself detracted from a good plot! Sorry Anthony!

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  • Jennifer
  • 11-26-17

Who dunnit

Cleverly done; what is real and what is not? I had to finish this quickly.