Close to Death – Who Killed the Neighbor From Hell?

Few writers are more prolific and more creative than Anthony Horowitz. Not only has he written many popular TV series – Foyle’s War, Midsomer Murders, Injustice – but he also has penned the bestselling YA Alex Rider novels, and many adult mysteries. Perhaps the cleverest series is the Hawthorne one where he injects a fictional version of himself into the action. The fifth, following the Twist of the Knife, is Close to Death

The action centers on an exclusive neighborhood in Richmond Upon Thames. With only six homes in this gated community, those who live there co-exist as good neighbors, respecting  boundaries, but also getting together for social gatherings. All of that changes when a new couple, Giles and Lynda Kenworthy, move into the largest home, Riverview Lodge, with their two children, and upset the once convivial atmosphere. Giles’ gas-guzzling cars, loud parties, a smoke belching barbecue grill, and plans to build a swimming pool, ratchet up the tension. When Giles is found dead with a cross-bow bolt in his neck, there’s no shortage of suspects. Cracking this case will take more than run of the mill policing. Enter former Detective Inspector Daniel Hawthorne who wastes no time annoying the Richmond residents and current Detective Inspector Tariq Khan, who is assigned the case.

Although the Richmond murder is in Hawthorne’s rear view mirror, it’s about to be resurrected, thanks to Horowitz’s agent Hilda Starke. She wants the fifth book in the Hawthorne series and calls Horowitz to press him about turning in a new manuscript. After Twist of a Knife, where Horowitz barely escaped being charged with the murder of a theater reviewer who had trashed his new play, he’s not eager to work with Hawthorne again. But the terms of his contract give him no choice. After meeting with Hawthorne, the Richmond case seems to have the most promise for a new mystery.

Close to Death see-saws between the past and present – the past when Hawthorne and his assistant John Dudley investigate Giles’ murder, and the present, as Horowitz wrestles with trying to turn the thousands of pages of interviews and reports that Hawthorne gives him into a novel. It doesn’t help that Hawthorne is less than forthcoming about what clues led him to target the perpetrator. Horowitz also is annoyed that Hawthorne won’t introduce him to Dudley, shutting down an information source that could add details to the story.

The suspects are a motley group. Dr. Tom Beresford, who lives in the Gardener’s Cottage with his wife, Gemma, a jewelry designer, and his twin daughters, mourns the patient he lost because one of Giles’ cars blocked the driveway and made him late to his practice. Adam Strauss, who lives in the cottage dubbed The Stables with his second wife, Teri, is a chess grandmaster and often stays up late playing in online tournaments. He’s upset because the Giles children damaged a valuable chess set given to him by a Middle Eastern royal. Andrew Pennington, a widower, lives in Well House, and is also upset with the Giles children because they rode their skateboards through a garden he planted to remember his late wife. May Winslow and Phyllis Moore are two elderly, single women who, so they tell everyone, used to be nuns. When their beloved dog is thrown into a well and dies, they believe Giles had something to do with the nasty deed. Roderick Browne, a dentist, cares for his bedridden invalid wife, Felicity, whose window view in the Woodlands will be spoiled by the swimming pool planned by Giles. Also a possible suspect is Sarah, a gardener, who tends most of the gardens, but has her own reason for not liking Giles.

Close to Death is another enjoyable romp in the Hawthorne series. Horowitz no doubt has fun playing himself in this series. And we enjoy riding along.

Close to Death
Anthony Horowitz

Top photo: Bigstock

About Charlene Giannetti (697 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan.