"The House of Silk," a Sherlock Holmes novel, by Anthony Horowitz


I’ll confess at the outset that I’m no expert or devoté to the Sherlock Holmes canon. I read a couple of shorter Doyle pieces as a lad, and think nobody will ever equal Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of the master detective on screen (although I am enamored of the latest from the BBC, “Sherlock,” particularly of the Dr. Watson character). But that’s the extent of my consciousness as far as the world-famous consulting detective goes. That, and the relatively recent and brief Michael Chabon piece.

So I approached “The House of Silk” as a relative novice. Curiosity led me to a search of the non-Doyle Holmes stories, and the Mayfield, Mass., library has a convenient list of at least 70 ( Proving my novice status, I had no idea there were that many.

Anthony Horowitz, the prolific and best-selling British author, has produced a satisfying addition to this crowded room. Holmes’s intellectual powers impress, even as he’s arrested and held for murder. Dr. Watson’s loyalty and resourcefulness are never in doubt, and he never wavers, even though in this entry he’s married and his wife’s health is failing. Mr. Horowitz concedes a few points to make his story more authentic. Watson, as he writes, is in his final years, and Holmes hasdied. Watson puts pen to paper to record the events of the case of the House of Silk, and exacts promises from his heirs and executors not to publish the manuscript for 100 years. He does this because some of the really depraved villains are prominent in society, and a good distance in time seems like a good idea.

This book is very strong and focused.  We keep Dr. Watson’s point of view firmly throughout. The crimes that drive Holmes and us, are heinous indeed, and resonate as clearly today as ever. Mr. Horowitz inserts a few small touches which put us in mind of the series by Conan Doyle: Watson states he should have had more depth concerning Mrs. Hudson, the ever-present housekeeper. And he hopes Inspector Lestrade knows that Holmes and Watson did actually appreciate his work, even as the good inspector made great advances at Scotland Yard piggy-backing on work Holmes did.

If you’re a Holmes follower, this book will please you with Holmes’s bag of tricks and the close scrapes he gets into. If you don’t care that much about the great detective, this novel is worth your while for its atmospheric treatment of Victorian London, and the convolutions of its crime mystery plot.
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  1. Nice review!

    I too enjoyed the book immensely and always recommend it :)

  2. Thank you, buddy, it's always nice to have the feedback.