Like any good mystery, Anthony Horowitz's A Line to Kill has a gripping story, quirky characters who might be devious or might be innocent, a twisty plot, an enigmatic detective and a memorable setting. But it also has something else: sly humor, most of it at the expense of the author ... Horowitz (the real one) has a lot of fun with this book, dropping clues and red herrings, unraveling the story slowly, ending it — and then ending it again. Along the way he pokes fun at writers and readings and literary festivals and, most of all, at himself. Seriously, get in line for this one. It's terrific.
... what elevates this series above many if not all of its competitors is Horowitz’s self-deprecating representation of himself in his narration (Watson was a fictionalisation of Doyle) and the relationship between him and Hawthorne, which (in contrast to Watson’s reverence for Holmes) is fraught with friction ... Horowitz has none of Christie’s flaws as an author and there are no cardboard cut-out characters, wildly improbable murder methods, or cosy camouflaging of harsh realities of crime and harm here ... One of the fascinating features of the series is the insight it gives into Horowitz’s own life as a critically and commercially successful author ... When I recognised the Christie-style set-up, I immediately wondered if this was a step too far for Horowitz. The Susan Ryeland series is already an ingenious and compelling homage to the world’s most successful author of fiction and I wondered if A Line to Kill would blur the boundaries between the two series. It does not and each in is, in its own unique way, providing contemporary crime fiction with a much-needed revitalisation.
The antics of the odd couple add up to a romp around an island where even the taxi driver seems a likely candidate for wrongdoing. As we dive more deeply into the story, Anthony pulls back the layers of truth before letting Hawthorne pull them back even further. None of the characters has a simple history ... For the reader, the unfolding is like unwrapping a present that has been concealed in multiple layers. We’re on a pleasant ride throughout Alderney until we slide into the final solution at the end. While there are plenty of clues, we ultimately find ourselves in the author’s shoes: bowing down to the seasoned ex-detective while anticipating his next adventure.