Book review: The House of Silk, Sherlock Holmes novel
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Sherlock Holmes and his faithful Dr Watson return with 'The House of Silk'. And who better than his greatest nemesis Professor James Moriarty serving as the hand of God in the time of need. Holmes with all his eccentricities and human follies, as always, shows glimpses of an ingenious mind at work.
Author Anthony Horowitz through 'The House of Silk' pays homage to one of the greatest detective writers of all times, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He tries to recreate the aura of 221B Baker Street in the backdrop of 19th century London complete with gas lamps and curricle. Best known for his screenplays, the BAFTA-winning Foyle's War and mini-series Collision and Injustice, he is said to have committed the most murders (fictional) than any other living author. But by the same token he has also authored the bestselling Alex Rider children series.
Moving on with the plot...the winter of November 1890 brings an unusual guest to the doorstep of 221B Baker Street. Holmes' path crosses accidentally with one of the most merciless band of criminals who would not tolerate any intrusion in their business. They so much as brutally kill little kids to serve Holmes a notice to mind his own business. 'The House of Silk' takes the readers from the dark alleys of Bluegate Fields to Great Britain's pillars of power. While we are told about Holmes' dependency on cocaine, we also get glimpses of his innate hatred for crime and criminals alike. The usually impersonal Holmes shows his humane side when tragedy befalls one of the members of his 'Unofficial Police Force'.
With his unusual eye for detail and 'elementary' way of deducing from them, Holmes is still the magician that casts a spell on the lesser mortals. As the thick winter fog dissipates, it leaves in disarray many a powerful family and rattles the very base of Britain's moralistic society. Such is the power of this sinister force that Holmes lands up in the prison and faces trial for murder. With even his own brother Mycroft Holmes giving up in despair, he can only rely on his faithful companion Dr Watson to whip up some 'Holmes' magic.
Given the unenviable task of recreating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's mysterious world of Sherlock Holmes, Horowitz succeeds to a large extend in that. His take on the London of 19th century and Boston crime scene justifies in everyway his standing as a great crime writer. He brings his own brand of crime writing to Sir Doyle's world and tries to fill the void left by the great man. But he succeeds only as much, for the faithful Arthur Conan Doyle readers, the smoke-filled room in 221B Baker Street and the piped detective still await a successor.
Dr Watson's 'vulgar romanticism' of Holmes superlative detective skills perhaps needs some more polishing and fine tuning. Nonetheless, a must-read for all Sherlock Holmes fans. The world sorely misses the cynical and eccentric detective, who with his uncanny sense of perception and knack for scientific study was nothing short of a magician, one that put the power of human reasoning before everything else.