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Bane of Kings writes a review of The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, a Sherlock Holmes novel backed by the Conan-Doyle estate, with this edition published by Orion.
“Anthony Horowitz has managed to match the classics of Conan-Doyle whilst presenting a brilliantly fresh, fun and entertaining Sherlock Holmes tale that stays true to the originals and proves a delight to read for Holmes fans.” ~The Founding Fields
Okay, I’ll have to admit before going into this review that I’m a fan of Anthony Horowitz. I’ve read every one of his Alex Rider young adult series, and why they may be formulaic at times, they’re a lot of fun. I’ve read all of his Power of Five young adult novels as well, and enjoyed them as much as Alex Rider. (Although I haven’t read the new one yet). And I’m also a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and I believe that The Hound of the Baskervilles is the best crime/mystery novel ever written. So it was a bit of a no-brainer that I would like this novel, I was just glad that I liked it as much as I did.
GAME’S AFOOT … It is November 1890 and London is gripped by a
merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by
the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker
Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a
scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent
Intrigued by the man’s tale, Holmes and Watson find themselves
swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events,
stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal
underworld of Boston. As the pair delve deeper into the case, they
stumble across a whispered phrase ‘the House of Silk': a mysterious
entity and foe more deadly than any Holmes has encountered, and a
conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society
So, what are the strong points of The House of Silk then? Well, it has several, but let’s start with the first question, and the most important one for all fans of Sherlock Holmes – Does it stay true to the originals? Well, I’ve answered that question in the quote at the top of the review – with a yes. We don’t see any action-packed, jumping-out-of-the-Houses-of-Parliament adventures that we did in Guy Ritche’s 2009 blockbuster Sherlock Holmes. The House of Silk also doesn’t bring Holmes and Watson forward to the modern-day setting that we saw in BBC’s Sherlock, either. It sticks firmly in the nineteen hundreds and this is where Horowitz excels.
Most Holmes stories out there have Watson as the narrator, and Horowitz sticks true to this among other things and delivers a strong, core narrative from Watson’s perspective and never once strays from his viewpoint, allowing the author to create several twists and turns that we might not have been given were it a third person-perspective. Thus Horowitz keeps the reader enthralled and is able to keep the novel engaging and the reader hooked.
Whilst The House of Silk may not be all action, all the time (and in a way, that’s a good thing), there are of course some action scenes featured in this book, and Horowitz, with experience from writing Alex Rider among other books, has pulled it off perfectly. As far as I noticed, there are no glaringly obvious historical inaccuracies and the book is very believable. It’s also a very strong read as well, and not overly long, which is good news.
The characters are close to the originals and it’s interesting to take a look at how they’re portrayed by a modern writer. I can see why The Conan-Doyle estate has authorized The House of Silk, for it’s as close as we’re going to get to having Conan-Doyle write another Holmes book. Indeed, if I had read this in 2011, when it first came out – I would have labelled this as one of the better books of the year. The mystery that Horowitz has created for Holmes to solve is intriguing, and unpredictable. You won’t be able to see this coming, and Holmes doesn’t overload on characters from the original setting as well here, with no appearances from either Irene Adler, and while Moriarty may appear, he’s not the main villain and the House of Silk does not rely on the “Napoleon of Crime” to thread everything together.
This is a brilliant book, and fans of the originals will love this. It’s the best Sherlock Holmes novel that I’ve read written by someone who isn’t Arthur Conan-Doyle. It’s better than Guy Ritche’s Sherlock Holmes can ever hope to be, and on par with BBC’s fantastic Sherlock and indeed, the originals.