We are in the age of Sherlock – Benedict Cumberbatch’s incarnation of the famous detective is one of the most popular things on television, Elementary is doing pretty well, and there have been two successful films about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation in the past few years.
Despite this, it’s only recently that I ventured into the source material for all of the above. While I’ve yet to read a full length Sherlock Holmes novel by Doyle, I have read a number of short stories, and now the first new Sherlock novel by Anthony Horowitz, The House of Silk.
As an old man in a nursing home, Watson finally starts writing down the story of one of Holmes’s most difficult and disturbing cases. The reader is transported to November of 1980, with London in the grip of a cold winter. A man arrives at 221B Baker Street, worried that he is being stalked and will soon be killed. But the stalker, a man with the scar on his face, is just the beginning for Holmes and Watson, who soon find themselves in ever more danger as they try to hunt down the mysterious House of Silk.
The pressure of writing a novel featuring some of the best known fictional characters ever must be immense, and to have to write about them in their own world must make the task even harder, but Horowitz pulls off The House of Silk as easily as blinking.
The “voice” of Watson is spot on, with Horowitz putting his own stamp on it by introducing us to an older Watson, who sets the scene for the tale. Sherlock is captured brilliantly as well, and is just as frustrating and superb as he is in the Conan Doyle stories I’ve had.
There are references littered throughout the book to previous stories featuring Holmes, but they’re subtle and show understanding of the characters, rather than used by Horowitz as a way of saying “look, I know what Holmes is all about”.
And then there’s the mystery itself. Extraodinarily clever, there were many times when I thought I had it sussed, only to be proved wrong. The turns fit together well, and the ending brought all the strands together in a coherent, believable way.
Murder, intrigue, danger, and a clever, twisting plot make this an unputdownable novel. It might not be Conan Doyle, but Horowitz has created a perfect Sherlock Holmes story.
How I got this book: Bought.