Monday, January 16, 2012

The House of Silk

I'd read a lot of favorable reviews about Anthony Horowitz's authorized Sherlock Holmes novel, The House of Silk, so I was ready to give it a try. I'm happy to say that the book lives up to the hype. It is not only a very good Sherlock Holmes pastiche, but also a good mystery/suspense novel on its own merits.
I've read well over 200 Sherlock Holmes pastiches, some good, many bad, but few excellent. I'd put The House of Silk near the top of the list. Why? To begin with, it feels like a Sherlock Holmes story. Horowitz isn't Doyle, but he has a good feel for Holmes and Watson. Their personalities are intact and the dialog reads true. During the first 80 or so pages, I got that familiar feeling of setting off on an adventure with Holmes, knowing that he would bring order out of chaos and set things right. And I think Horowitz was banking on that. That Holmes fans would slip into that groove with him.
Then, about page 90, things suddenly take a darker turn and Horowitz sends the great detective and his friend and assistant Watson into very "deep waters" indeed, and as the book progresses we follow Holmes into a Victorian nightmare. What impressed me about this approach was that, even though Horowitz adds some layers of realism to the crimes and the criminals that Holmes must confront, he doesn't loose sight of his protagonists. They remain the characters we know.
I'm purposefully not giving many plot details because this is a twisty, twisty tale and I don't want to give anything away. I will say, that while I figured out most of the mysteries and caught most of the clues, one thing did escape me. I always think someone has done a great job with a mystery if they 'played fair' and still managed to slip something past me. I've read thousands of mysteries and I know what to watch out for. Nothing comes out of left field in the end. All the facts were available. You just have to interpret them correctly.
Anyway, I certainly enjoyed this novel, and if the Conan Doyle estate wants Mr. Horowitz to write any more adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I'll certainly pick them up. Recommended.


Italia said...

Horowitz does an impressive job. I could feel my hackles rising here and there, but overall my feeling was satisfaction - and that'll do with a `new' Sherlock Holmes story. My feelings with the TV version were more extreme: a couple of moments of absolute relish, but - particularly in the last episodes of each series, overwhelming disappointment and irritation.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

I haven't seen the second series yet, but it will run over here this month.