Review of 'The House of Silk'

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

house_of_silk.jpg The famous detective Sherlock Holmes is called on to find the identity of a scar-faced stalker who it is feared is from “The Flat Cap Gang”, a criminal gang from the United States involved murder and theft. Edmund Carstairs, a London art dealer, has sold some pieces to Cornelious Stillman, a wealthy Bostonian. The shipment is intercepted by the gang before it arrives resulting in a manhunt culminating in a shoot out with the gang where all but one of the gang escapes. During his investigation into the mysterious visitor Holmes enlists the help of the “Baker Street division of the detective police force”, a group of highly skilled street urchins who have a knack of finding the unfindable. When one of the children is killed while watching the suspect Holmes discovers a secret society operating at the highest level of society in London that will stop at nothing to keep their secrets including framing Holmes for murder…

An interesting and engaging story from Anthony Horowitz who is best known for his James Bond and young-adult “Alex Rider” action book series. “The House of Silk” is endorsed by the Conan Doyle Estate and really captures the spirit of the original Sherlock Holmes books both in style and temperament, which the author points out in the short essay “Anthony Horowitz on Writing The House of Silk: Conception, Inspiration and The Ten Rules” at the end of the novel. It is refreshing to read how much care Horowitz took to writing the book but this is clear to see on every page as we once again enter the world of the famous detective.

The chapters here are slightly longer than Doyle would have used which does often seem to slow the pace of the story down but make no mistake, there is action and a good deal of surprises throughout though I have to say I had a good idea of what was going on about half way through. There is a good deal of mystery that Holmes is able, in his clinical way, to explain to our satisfaction (a feature throughout is his uncanny ability to tell on first glances a seemingly impossible amount of detail about a person that he then goes on to explain to startled companions). Unlike other Holmes' books the details of Victorian life are subtly explained throughout so that the reader can keep up without having any prior familiarity, indeed, even the key characters and aspects of Sherlock Holmes' life are, again subtly, explained. Despite this nod to novice readers some will doubtless find the prose and style of “The House of Silk” not to their liking which is a pity as it is a well crafted and engaging, but not too heavy, story.

Fantastic new adventure from the fictional detective and one worthy of being called a Sherlock Holmes story. “The House of Silk” is a great addition to the canon though will likely appeal mainly to fans of these works as others may find the style and prose old-fashioned.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2019-01-01

Genre: Crime/Mystery

Publisher: Orion

Publication Date: 2011

ISBN: 9781409135982