This mystery novel has a premise Agatha Christie wouldn’t be ashamed of: a middle-aged woman goes to a funeral parlor, calmly and casually arranges for her own funeral and is then brutally murdered that night. But Agatha Christie Horowitz is not. Horowitz is mostly famous for his television work and his young adult novels. After hearing the high praise The Magpie Murders, his first Christie pastiche, received when it came out, I decided to pick up his new one which has also gotten a lot of praise for being really clever and surprising. Well, it’s not really. Horowitz’ prose is pretty bad. I guess you’d say clumsy. The story itself doesn’t have a whole lot of twists to it; it’s basically a pretty straightforward mystery novel. The meta elements were also praised by a lot of people, but I found those elements lacking as well. In short, Horowitz is himself a character in the book and as the story of the book is unfolding he is actually . . . well, writing the book that we’re reading. It seems like a gambit to make things seem more complicated and clever than they actually are frankly. And that meta element also leads to Steven Spielberg appearing in this book as a character. That head-slappingly stupid scene, which also features Peter Jackson, is easily the worst scene I’ve read all year. In short, the plot is fine, if not stupendous, but in all other areas, I’d say the book has far more ambition than it has ability. I doubt I’ll pick up anything by Horowitz again. 2 stars.
tl;dr – an intriguing premise is hamstrung by a weird meta element and clumsy prose; a basically solid plot, but also a lot of real stupidity. 2 stars.