Anthony Horowitz was born in 1955 in Middlesex to a wealthy Jewish family. He was an overweight and unhappy child and spent much of his time reading books from his father’s library.
At the age of eight, Horowitz was sent to the boarding school which he describes as “a brutal experience”, recalling that he was often beaten by the headmaster. He started writing when he was at boarding school and eventually graduated from the University of York with a BA in English literature. He has written over fifty books including many children’s novels and he has written and adapted many novels for television, including Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders.
Horowitz now lives in London with his wife Jill Green, whom he married in Hong Kong in 1988. He is also a patron of the child protection charity, Kidscape.
In October 2008, Anthony Horowitz’s play Mindgame opened Off Broadway in New York City and in January 2011, the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle announced Horowitz was to be the writer of a new Sherlock Holmes novel, the first such effort to receive an official endorsement from them and to be entitled The House of Silk. Often his work has a comic edge.
The Sinister Secret of Frederick K Bower (1979) was Horowitz’s first book and was a humourous adventure for children. He began his most famous and successful series in the new millennium with the Alex Rider novels. These books are about a 14-year-old boy becoming a spy as a member of the British Secret Service branch MI6. Currently, there are nine Alex Rider books:
Fourteen-year-old Alex Rider, learns of the death of his uncle and adopted parent, Ian Rider, in a deadly car crash. He was not wearing a seatbelt and Alex is suspicious (because in spite of what the police told him after the crash, Ian Rider always wore his seatbelt), and he decides to investigate. He finds that Ian Rider did not die in a car crash, and after various events, he discovers that his uncle was, in fact, a spy who had been killed before completing his mission. He had actually been training Alex to follow his career.
Eagle Strike (2003)
While on holiday in the South of France with his friend Sabina Pleasure, Alex Rider runs into the assassin Yassen Gregorovich, who killed Alex’s uncle in the first novel Stormbreaker. When the Pleasures’ holiday home explodes in a supposed gas leak, Alex suspects Yassen is involved. Yassen captures Alex and enters him in a bullfight as punishment. After escaping, Alex calls a number he found on Yassen’s mobile phone and hears pop star Damian Cray’s voice. He tells MI6 about this, but Alan Blunt refuses to follow up on it. Alex tells Sabina about his double life as a spy, but she does not believe him.
Scorpia Rising (2011)
This is the ninth novel in the Alex Rider series. Scorpia is hired to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. Their plan includes the laying of a false trail to Cairo, Egypt, killing Alex Rider, and blackmailing London into returning the Marbles. MI6 falls for the trap and Alex is sent to Cairo, where, unbeknownst to him, Scorpia is pulling the strings. Zeljan Kurst, leader of Scorpia is promised €40 million for the return of the Marbles. MI6 has found out about the plan and try to capture Kurst, but Scorpia agents in the museum disguised as visitors help Kurst to escape. The plan requires Scorpia to build up a file, codenamed Horseman, on the subject of Alex being used as a spy by the British government for a disgraceful act, and killed, threatening to expose it, hence ruining the British reputation, unless the Elgin Marbles are returned to Greece.
In 2004, Horowitz branched out to an adult audience.
The Killing Joke
This book is a comedy about a man who tries to track a joke to its source with disastrous consequences. Guy Fletcher is an actor who overhears a builder telling a joke in his local pub about his mother (although very few people know that he is her son), a famous and much loved actress called Selina Moore, who died in a plane accident in France. The joke was “Why is Selina Moore like Ferrero Rocher?”
“Because they both came out of France in a box.”
This was originally a real joke about Princess Diana’s death, a fact which is mentioned in the book. The next day he wonders where jokes come from and, despite being discouraged by his agent Sylvie, goes on a mission to track down the joke. On the way, he meets a variety of people, most importantly a woman called Sally, who he falls in love with. After investigating various dead-ends and multiple paths that the joke has followed, he is noticed by a man called Rupert Liddy, who has a perfect memory. They attempt to stop Guy by using characters from jokes (e.g. an Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman), and stereotypes of character groups. Eventually, they frame him for his neighbour’s murder, at which point Guy goes into hiding.