The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz

I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. It is quite possible that you have heard me mention that fact that Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle were two of the reason that my reading was saved at two varying points in my life.  I was therefore both interest and slight unease that I felt when I heard that Anthony Horowitz had been approved by the Conan Doyle estate to write a new Holmes and Watson mystery. ‘The House of Silk’ is the result and it was, once again, with interest and unease that I opened the novel and read on.

Orion publishing, hardback, 2011, fiction, 304 pages, kindly sent by the publishers

I don’t want to give anything away about the plot of ‘The House of Silk’ because like all good mystery novels to give anything away would be to the detriment of anyone contemplating reading it. I can say that we join Holmes, through the narrative of Dr Watson once more after he has been starving himself for several weeks for a case (could this be ‘The Adventure of the Dying Detective’ from ‘His Last Bow’ by any chance?) now finished and bored waiting for another. Watson has just come to stay and sure enough a new case turns up on the doorstep in the form of Edward Carstairs, a young London art dealer, who believes someone is following him, someone who might want revenge after an incident in America in Carstairs’ past. And the game is afoot…

There is of course much more going on than meets the eye, Watson points out early on that nothing is ever simple and yet it’s the simple trivialities that can make or break a case, and actually in Watson’s introduction we are told that there are two strands to this in the form of both ‘The House of Silk’ and ‘The Man in the Flat Cap’, where they merge and why though is all up for discovery. It is also Watson’s introduction that tells us why, after Sherlock’s death some years before he has chosen to finally divulge this tale which was ‘simply too monstrous, too shocking to appear in print’ and ‘would tear apart the entire fabric of society’.

So how does Horowitz do as writing a Holmes novel or telling one through the voice of Watson? Well, apart from occasionally rather too often mentioning that this was ‘the greatest’ or ‘most difficult’ of his cases (which seemed a little self congratulatory) I thought this was excellent and I am a big Holmes fan and a big cynic. I could tell that Horowitz was a true fan of Sherlock and through his passion and knowledge, like when in the first chapter Holmes deduces why Watson has come to visit just as he did when they first met in ‘A Study in Scarlet’, the voice rang true.

Holmes reached out and took the strip of silk from me. He laced it through his skeletal fingers and held it in front of him, examining it in the way that a man might a poisonous snake. ‘If this was directed to me as a challenge, it is one I now accept,’ he said. He punched the air, his fist closing on the white ribbon. ‘And I tell you Watson, that I shall make them rue the day that it was sent.’

I really, really enjoyed ‘The House of Silk’, it drew me in. I loved spending time with Holmes and Watson again and was gripped and tricked along the way. I just loved the adventure of it all. It doesn’t try to take Holmes anywhere new that the loyal fans will be unhappy with, nor does it become a pastiche of a Holmes novel. I knew it wasn’t Conan Doyle but I knew I was in safe hands. It has certainly made me want to turn back to the original Holmes novels; I hope Horowitz and Holmes fans will do the same, to me that is the sign of a great return and a successful one.


Filed under Anthony Horowitz, Books of 2011, Orion Publishing, Review, Sherlock Holmes

12 responses to “The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz

  1. Sue

    Wasn’t it great? I too am a Holmes fan and a cynic. I hated the Michael Dibdin ‘The Last Sherlock Holmes Story’. I listened to it as an unabridged audio book, read by Derek Jacobi. If you have a long journey I can really recommend it.

    • I was thrilled by how good this was Sue. Its the old cynical head on my shoulders that does it, but I found this a realy enjoyable return of Sherlock written by someone who loves the canon as much as any big Sherlock fan out there.

      I hadn’t heard of the Dibdin book, I don’t think I will look out for it though.

  2. This sounds so good, I didn’t know about this! I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, may have to put this one on the Christmas wish list! Thanks Simon!

    • A pleasure Dot. I really liked this book a lot and it may even make my list of favourite books of the year. Did you hear the Sherlock Special of The Readers last week? It’s here if you do…

      Hope all is well? In fact I must email you.

      Oh and I should also have said this book led me back to rereading Sherlock all over again which shows it has the true Sherlock flavour.I am now reading a Sherlock short story a day either when I wake up early, at lunchtime or at bedtime depending on what else am reading. Its working.

  3. A Sherlock story a day sounds perfect! I’m very well thank you, 32 weeks pregnant today, so slightly larger than usual!

  4. I m huge fan of holmes but won’t be reading this have read other homages and found them pale in comparison to the original I was initally excited when it was mention he was doing it as I ve enjoyed his tv work but I ll leave it thanks for the review ,all the best stu

  5. Really good review. I would totally agree with your sentiments – Horowitz was a safe pair of hands, without changing the essence of the characters he updated them subtly for a modern audience. Great stuff!

    My review: The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

  6. Pingback: Savidge Reads Books of 2011 – Part II | Savidge Reads

  7. Nice review of the book.

    Anthony Horowitz is a great writer. I too liked ‘The House of Silk’.

    Check out my review .


  8. Anthony Horowitz had just released his latest magpie murders,, i loved it on audio !!!

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