A Mind-Boggling Murder Mystery

This murder mystery is metafiction at its best. Every character in renowned author Anthony Horowitz’s latest book, Close to Death jumps out of the page with a nasty surprise. The story is set in the tony neighborhood of Richmond Upon Thames in London where all the elite folks live. The Riverview community is disturbed by their new boisterous neighbor Giles Kenworthy. Giles is a loud and obnoxious hedge fund manager, who muscles his way in every aspect of life. He moves in with his wife (Lynda) and noisy kids in a sprawling house that is located on a quiet cul-de-sac. He buys the Riverview Lodge from a chess grandmaster (Adam Strauss) who has fallen on tough times. To cut costs, Strauss and his wife Teri move to a modest house on the other side of the gated community.

Meanwhile, Giles and his family settle in their new home and enjoy their lavish lifestyle, a fleet of guzzlers, and brash attitude. Their sense of entitlement rubs many people the wrong way in the otherwise peaceful neighborhood. The late-night parties, loud music, screaming kids, and frequent run-ins, make Giles very unpopular.

The novel picks up pace when Giles’s glamorous wife Lynda, comes home after attending a soiree with a friend and finds her husband dead at their doorstep. It is a macabre sight. Giles is shot dead with a crossbow. What follows next is a web of lies and the murky past of the neighborhood. Fear and sinister air descend on the Thames riverside settlement after news of similar hushed-up past incidents crop up. All the characters in the book – the neighbors and acquaintances come under suspicion. Horowitz’s writing prowess and ability to rake up muck from the murky past and transform it into a powerful plotline and laser-sharp imagery is commendable. After reading a couple of pages, one keeps guessing who could be the murderer. Detective Superintendent Tariq Khan does a preliminary probe but it is Hawthorne and his old friend John Dudley, who smell the dead rat with their astute investigative skills and feel that there is something more menacing than what comes across to the naked eye. There are startling revelations in the investigation that keep the reader glued in this whodunit thriller. This murder mystery and meticulous probe becomes a perfect plot for Horowitz to convert Close to Death into an ingenious literary masterpiece.

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