Thursday, April 25, 2013

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz: A review

I've written before about how Sherlock Holmes was my first literary love. I fell in love with him when I was twelve years old and I've never fallen out. Obviously, then, I am a sucker for any story featuring the great consulting detective.

It's not just me. There is still an extensive audience for Sherlock Holmes stories, and so the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate, for the first time in its long history, authorized a new Holmes novel. 

To complete the task, they chose Anthony Horowitz, who I knew chiefly from his excellent work as screenwriter for the television series Midsomer Mysteries, certainly one of my all-time favorite television mystery series. 

Horowitz channeled Conan Doyle very successfully, I thought. He wrote very much in the style of the master and remained true to the spirit of the originals, particularly in the relationship between Holmes and Watson.

The story, of course, is told in the voice of Watson who is writing it twenty-five years after the events. He is recalling the year 1890 and a fine art dealer named Edmund Carstairs who begs Holmes' help in unraveling the mystery of a man in a flat cap who seems to be stalking him. 

In short order, Carstairs' home is burgled and his family threatened. Then, inexplicably, the man in the flat cap turns up as a murder victim himself. Is the threat, then, ended?

As always in Holmes stories, things are not quite what they seem. The detective, of course, realizes this from the first and allows himself to be drawn further and further into what at first appears to be some kind of international conspiracy stretching from Boston to London. 

Along the way, he begins to hear whispers of something called the House of Silk, but no one, not even brother Mycroft, seems to know just what it is. What soon becomes clear, though, is that this House of Silk has tentacles that reach all the way into the highest echelons of the country's seats of power in politics and business and every other walk of life.

The whole thing becomes personal for Holmes when one of his Baker Street Irregulars is murdered in a particularly brutal way. He throws all of his superhuman powers of analysis and deduction into unraveling the mystery of how all the disparate crimes are linked together and just what is at the bottom of them all. 

Most importantly, he dedicates himself at great personal risk to bringing to justice the perpetrators of particularly heinous crimes. At this point, the bad guys should have just given up! Of course, they never do. 

It was a pleasure to once again be in the company of my old friends. Time has not withered them nor custom staled their wit and their passion for justice. 

The Conan Doyle Estate did well in selecting Anthony Horowitz to carry the torch. He has done them proud in this new addition to the Holmes canon. This was a fun read. Dare we hope for more?

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