Book Review: The Twist of a Knife, Anthony Horowitz

‘Our deal is over.’

This is what reluctant author Anthony Horowitz tells ex-detective Daniel Hawthorne in an awkward encounter. The truth is that Anthony has other things on his mind.

His new play ‘Mindgame’ is about to open at London’s Vaudeville theatre, and on opening night, Sunday Times critic Harriet Throsby gives the play a savage review.

The next morning she is found dead, stabbed in the heart with an ornamental dagger that has only one set of finger prints on it. Anthony’s.

Anthony is arrested, charged with Throsby’s murder, and thrown into prison.

Alone and increasingly desperate, he realises only one man can help him.

But will Hawthorne take his call?

Another thoroughly enjoyable criminal romp for Anthony Horowitz and the enigmatic Daniel Hawthorne, uncovering the murderer of a vicious theatre critic before Horowitz is re-arrested for the crime.

What I Liked

  • The literary setting, in this case within the theatre scene
  • The ongoing mystery surrounding Hawthorne
  • The recurring characters from previous novels
  • How willing everyone was to assume that Horowitz was capable of murder

What Could Have Been Different

The fourth installment of Horowitz and Hawthorne contains all the elements we’ve come to expect: Horowitz incorporates into a fictionalised account of his literary life a murder; Horowitz continues to play Watson to Hawthorne’s Holmes and bumbles about missing the important clues whilst fixating on the red herrings, It is fun, light-hearted, clever and thoroughly enjoyable.

On this outing, Horowitz focusses on his dramatic writing: Mindgame, a play he wrote, is produced in London and we witness his anxious attendance at the opening night, followed by the after-show party. Harriet Throsby, a renowned and vitriolic critic attends both and her review is scathing when, somewhat inebriated, one of the actors finds it on their phone and reads it to the rest of the cast. Next morning, Horowitz is awoken by police knocking on his door to arrest him for her murder: his dagger, his fingerprints, his DNA on a hair…

All seems rather damning and, after a night in a prison cell, Horowitz is sprung by Hawthorne and has perhaps 48 hours to prove his innocence until the police return him to custody. A round in interviews with other suspects, a trip to the countryside – like an episode of Midsommer Murders – and an delving into an historic crime ensue. Will Horowitz prove his innocence?

I loved the allusions to Horowitz’ writing life – other books in the series are cited, along with Alex Rider and Moonflower Murders and his agent gets a cameo appearance. The cast and production team for the play are small so the interviewing process felt very … contained. I did notice that the writing of the interviews felt a little off: characters spoke at length in long monologues, one might say dramatic monologues, and it felt a little artificial at times… but once I reached the conclusion, it was perhaps a deliberate decision.

Hard bitten or hard boiled detective, this was not but it was a great, entertaining read with a lot of humour. The other actors were rather keen to try to shift the blame for Throsby’s death – of course he agreed that she was vile and should die, of course he knew where she lived before her death – and even Hawthorne’s first words were “Did you do it?” The one point which I felt was a slight misstep was that, when his wife found out that the police were looking for him, she seemed to assume he was guilty too – an accusation which we never saw them work through!

As with the other novels in this series, the real mystery remains Who is Hawthorne? and Horowitz uncovers more information about him in this novel… more information which as usual only makes him more enigmatic not less.

Anthony is one of the most prolific and successful writers working in the UK – and is unique for working across so many media. Anthony is a born polymath; juggling writing books, TV series, films, plays and journalism.  Anthony has written over 50 books including the bestselling teen spy series Alex Rider, which is estimated to have sold 21 million copies worldwide and has been turned into a hugely successful TV series by Amazon Freevee.  A third series has just been filmed and the fourteenth Alex Rider novel, Nightshade: Revenge will be published in 2023.


Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plot / Pace:

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Page Count:

384 pages




18th August 2022


Amazon, Goodreads

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