Anthony Horowitz on ‘A Line to Kill’: ‘Turn Everything Upside Down’


The author says that by inserting himself as a sidekick and columnist in the Daniel Hawthorne series, instead of being the most intelligent person in the book, he would now be the one who knows nothing

Talking to Anthony Horowitz invariably involves looking ahead. The last time we spoke for Moonflower Murders, we were also talking about the third book in his Daniel Hawthorne series. And now that we’re talking about the third book, A line to kill (Penguin Random House) we are also talking about the third James Bond novel that Horowitz was commissioned to write by the Ian Fleming estate.

The Hawthorne series features a disgraced police detective turned consultant, Hawthorne, with a fictionalized version of Horowitz as his sidekick and columnist. “When my editors asked me to do a detective series, I started thinking about what I could do that was original and that hadn’t been done before,” says Horowitz via video call from London.

(Stay up to date with new book releases, reviews and more with The Hindu On Books newsletter. Subscribe here.)

“My first thought was, is the detective British or from another country, male or female? What is the ethnicity, sexuality, marital status? Are there any problems? Does she want to be something different? Is she a robot, a vampire, an astronaut or a ghost? »

From multiple angles

Realizing that all of these permutations had been made, Horowitz began to wonder what would make his series different.

“I started thinking about the relationship between the detective and his sidekick and I had this sudden flash of inspiration. If I was a sidekick in the book, it would turn everything upside down because suddenly instead of being the smartest person in the book, the author who knows everything, I wouldn’t know anything. I would be at the mercy of my detective. If my detective didn’t solve the crime, I wouldn’t have a book.

The 66-year-old author says it allowed him to have a lot of fun with the genre. “At the same time, I hope to give the audience all the fun of a whodunit, the clues, the suspects, the red herrings and the surprise of the ending.”

Anthony Horowitz on 'A Line to Kill': 'Turn Everything Upside Down'

Anatomy of a thriller

There was no danger that the book would come out as an ego trip, Horowitz says. “At the end of the day, I’m just the narrator, not the main character. You don’t learn much about me in the book. The book is about Hawthorne, and I write about Hawthorne. to do as a writer is to write about the nature of a thriller.

Islands are popular settings for Agatha Christie’s thrillers And then there was no more to PD James’ Skull under the skin. “There is also The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji. Choose to set A line to kill on an island was a coincidence, says Horowitz.

“I was invited to Alderney in the Channel Islands three years ago for a literary festival. I loved the island. It’s tiny, three miles long, and a special place with all those caves, tunnels, wonderful little beaches, and old-fashioned blue phone booths. The moment I arrived I thought, wow, this is a perfect setting for a murder mystery.

For the love of letters

The literary festival is described in detail in the book. “I love literary festivals. It’s the thing I’ve missed the most during the time of COVID-19. There is something wonderful about people coming together for the love of reading and books. The Jaipur Literature Festival is one of my favourites. I was amazed that thousands of people come to this city for the love of literature and books. There is something marvelously civilized there. In a world where there is so much divisiveness, worry, worry and fear, and where politics seems to be spiraling out of control, it is heartening to see that people want to come together to talk about stories.

There is a running joke about titles in novels with Hawthorne suggesting ‘Hawthorne Investigates’, and dismissing The word is murder as “too punctual”. “I try to give a literary twist to the titles. The first was The word is murder and the second The penalty is death. I painted myself into a corner because you’re running out of grammatical sentences for a murder story, so maybe it was a mistake to keep trying to make some sort of allusion to the writing.

The series is good for 10 books, says Horowitz. “At the end of the tenth book, we discover what makes Hawthorne such a difficult and contrary human being. We find out what happened to him as a boy that changed his life.

There is a meeting with the editors at the beginning of A line to kill. “I’m careful who I put in my books. Some people are real. I change the names and I create a composite from the different characters. I don’t want to make jokes. These books are not only for my friends but for my readers. Funny enough, everyone at Penguin Random House thinks they’re in the book!

Neither easy nor difficult

Horowitz writes in a variety of genres, from YA with Alex Rider and The Diamond Brothers to Sherlock Holmes and James Bond sequel novels outside of thrillers and horror. Horowitz says he prefers not to use words like easy and hard to describe the writing.

“Writing is never difficult for me. James Bond is perhaps the biggest challenge to write because I work in the shadow of Ian Fleming and there’s so much research to do to get it right and get the right tone of voice. I find the writing process to be a process of immersion and absorption.

Insisting that he loves all of his writing, Horowitz admits a bias for the books of Alex Rider, which helped an entire generation find literature, books and reading.

On television, Horowitz says, Magpie killings was adapted into a six-episode series starring Lesley Manville as editor Susan Ryeland and Tim McMullan as Atticus Pünd, the book-in-book detective. The full Monty the director, Peter Cattaneo, directs the show.

“Lesley is absolutely terrific and Cattaneo is one of the most brilliant directors I’ve worked with.”

alex rider is now in its second season based on Eagle Strike adapted by Guy Burt with Otto Farrant returning to play the titular character. There’s also Toby Stevens playing the main antagonist. “I know the first season was popular in India.”

link forever

With a mind to killHorowitz’s new James Bond novel, is due out in May 2022. “I can’t give anything because they’ll be unhappy with me (Laughs). I will say that I was delighted to be invited back for the third time. This book is part of a trilogy that follows Mortis Trigger (2015) and Eternity and a Day (2018). It is a quieter book than the other two.

Reconcile Bond’s attitudes with today’s calls to acknowledge Ian Fleming’s original books were written in the 1950s. You have to put the books in their historical context. If you are offended by them, do not read them. I still think these are great books, a lot of their time.

Read also | Goodbye, Daniel Craig: How the actor became bigger than the character of James Bond

The sequence at the end of Live and Let Die (1954) when Bond is dragged over the coral reef is brilliant, says Horowitz.

“The beginning of the novel, when Bond is captured and Mr. Big’s henchman, Teehee, breaks Bond’s finger, makes me sweat when I read it. However, there are parts of the book that I would not write myself, that we would be uncomfortable reading. Horowitz says he doesn’t see the need to eliminate uncomfortable elements from the legacy suite, because that’s not his way of thinking.

“It wouldn’t even cross my mind. There’s so much going on in the Bond world, which is so big and so wonderful. Let’s celebrate that.

Previous 'Pachinko': Apple TV+ Unveils First Look at International Drama Series (PHOTOS) | Entertainment
Next Educational animation features Irma Thomas, the New Orleans Queen of Soul