Tag Archives: Sherlock Holmes

The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz

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Anthony Horowitz inhabits the memories and pen of Dr.Watson in his Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk. It seems very Holmesian to me, although I would have to have recently imbibed a number of Arthur Conan Doyle’s originals to pick it apart on style.

In this story, embargoed for a century by Watson whose first-person voice relates the whole affair, Holmes is approached by an art dealer with a lethal problem. The wild goose chases that ensue are mostly fatal ones and the first crime is compounded by so many more that an entirely new level of depravity is uncovered.

The destruction of irreplaceable masterpieces leads to the decimation of a marauding Irish gang in America, the murder of a Boston Brahmin, a dead man in a cheap London hotel, a family coming undone in one of London’s fancier enclaves, many fascinating excursions through the mind of the great sleuth, and the brutal death of two children. Holmes is implicated, falsely and fairly, in puzzling homicides and he is framed and imprisoned for murder after walking deliberately into a trap.

Things get pretty wild. It’s entertaining. Some important plot points are so similar to the underlying evil in other murder mysteries I’ve read on this book-a-day hamster-wheel that I guessed what was going on earlier than I might have otherwise. But that shouldn’t spoil it for anyone. The House of Silk pays homage to Holmes and Conan Doyle quite elegantly. Horowitz was approved by the estate to write this book, probably on the strength of his other best selling mystery work. Holmes would likely find little fault with it.

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel   Anthony Horowitz | Little, Brown and Company  2011

The Hound of the Baskervilles — Arthur Conan Doyle

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I was sure I had read The Hound of the Baskervilles at some time in the distant past but there it sat on the library shelf waiting for me to reacquaint myself with Holmes and hounds. It turns out I read a lot about the book but not the book itself so I had the uncommon pleasure of spending an afternoon with Sherlock and co. engaged in discovering the details of plot for the first time.

Hound is so quintessentially Sherlock Holmes that it is like a well-made bed. Every corner is tucked in perfectly, every wrinkle exposed and smoothed to satisfying perfection. From the moment country doctor James Mortimer reclaims his walking stick and reveals the curse of the Baskervilles to the hour when the impenetrable fog descends on the moor, we are happily carried along by Arthur Conan Doyle’s clever twists and turns to the end of the tale. The heirs to the Baskerville estate seem doomed to fall under the spell of evil karma earned by an especially unsavory ancestor. But death in the remote corner of Devon, in the forbidding landscape prowled by a horrifying beast, is not as straightforward as it seems.

Malevolent characters lurk in the gloom. Weird, haunting cries travel across the moors at night. Strange warnings place everyone in harm’s way. Suspects are introduced, look blatantly guilty and then fall off the list as Holmes and his faithful eyes and ears, Dr. Watson, prowl and pry into everyone’s business. People are messy. Holmes is fastidious and attentive. He always wins—well, at least in this book we have no doubt.

The wild and lonely moor with its abandoned prehistoric stone huts, perilous quicksand, mysterious lights and hidden dangers may house a phantom or a monster. Holmes is sure of what he seeks before he ever arrives on the scene but we can’t know. What is real in the fogs, mists and treachery? Who is evil? Who is not to be trusted but not entirely black at heart? Who is lying and how does Holmes know? His Mensa-like acuity at puzzles is as appealing as his unshakable self-confidence and unapologetic arrogance. He’s a very entertaining gumshoe and it’s sport to spend the book trying to outguess him. I do love a good murder mystery, antidote to too much ambiguity, too many threads ungathered, too much badness unpunished in real life. Sherlock Holmes would probably be very irritating to know but he is agreeable and amusing to spend time with in the pages of a book. 

The Hound of the Baskervilles: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle | Signet Classics  2001