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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(1 star)show all reviews
65 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2012
The House of Silk is a lead-footed, poorly written book. The title alone made me think of the "Cleveland Street Scandal." So I was not surprised by that aspect of it when it finally turned up.

Ignoring for the moment that it included names like "Holmes" and "Watson" it is just NOT a well-written tale. The writing is sluggish and some of it makes no sense at all. At times I had the impression that it had been written in the third person and hastily converted to first person. Sometimes a 1st person narrator could not possibly have seen what was being described. Such was the case with the Boston raid. We have someone narrating to Holmes & Watson what someone else told him. The story would not have had the kind of location detail that it did in such case.

Some readers have complained that Horowitz makes Watson stupid. A bigger complaint is that Horowitz treats the reader as stupid. For example, when Holmes in disguise meets Mrs. Watson at the train station. How many of you did not know that was Holmes in disguise? How many of you still did not know it when Watson said it was Holmes in disguise? How many of you needed Watson to rehash why Holmes would be in disguise? Why hit the reader over the head repeatedly, esp. will such a small point? It certainly slows down the pace of the story.

In other places action or dialogue repeats a page or two after it first occurs. I've seen that in manuscripts. It is easy for a writer to do, and if it is hastily written, the writer may not do enough read-throughs to catch it. But an editor is supposed to catch that kind of thing and point it out so one is removed. In general it seems more like an unedited first or second draft ravel than a finished novel.

As far as it being close to Doyle's style .. any of his styles in any of his writings? Well, maybe for a page or two in the middle but not most of it.

Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson? Horowitz might occasionally accidentally hit the right tone but it is rare. Far more common is that Holmes says and does very un-Holmes-like things. Most of the time Holmes seemed to be dragged around by circumstances rather than leading the action. The "Let's just fall into this trap and see what happens" strategy is not usually one Holmes employs.

Watson keeps wandering off in mid-story to babble about his feelings about his relationship with Holmes. In the rare case that Watson ever did this it in the Canon it was usually short -- a flash, not a soliloquy.

Watson is a better doctor than Horowitz gives him credit for (Remember Doyle was a doctor!) and I was absolutely appalled when Dr. Watson walks right past a constable who was shot in the chest without even bothering to check the wound!

Lestrade does not sound like himself and Lestrade is usually one of the easiest characters to emulate.

The "deduction exchange" between Sherlock & Mycroft sounds off key & hostile. Mycroft's helplessness and lack of concern for his brother seems wrong.

The Moriarty cameo is ridiculous. Moriarty's "reasoning" and what he did made no sense. Would the writer have us believe Moriarty is stupid, too? Would Watson really have made that deal with the devil with only the devil's word? Does Watson not have more faith in Holmes than that? The Moriarty cameo also had no effect on the story. It could be pulled out and no one would be the wiser. That and a few other things made me wonder if the writer was given a list of things that the "estate" or the publisher wanted in the story: Moriarty - check.

There were a number of historical and canonical errors. I laughed when Holmes leaned over the gasogene to light a cigarette. I don't know how Holmes managed that feat but I do know that Horowitz doesn't know what a gasogene is!

We all know that Doyle made errors in the stories. Most often they were inconsistencies or quick errors, an incorrect date or name. But Horowitz out-performs Doyle in that department. Throughout the House of Silk people are greeting Watson as the author of the tales, citing specific stories in the Canon and sometimes mentioning the periodical they read it in. HOWEVER, the story is set in 1890. At that time only A Study in Scarlet and the Sign of Four had been published! The first of the "Adventures" was not written and published until 1891! So maybe the year was wrong? Except that it was clear that this story was set BEFORE Reichenbach which is impossible. The short stories started being published during the Great Hiatus. There is no way out of this tangle other than this whole story being a hallucination by Watson, or, more likely, Horowitz.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2012
I rate Anthony Horowitz highly as a writer and came to this expecting he would easily master the atmosphere and style of Conan Doyle. I am no Holmes fanatic and am not troubled by the odd inconsistency or even the odd mistake. Doyle made them himself, sometimes (though not often) his own characterisation wobbled a bit. But all workable Holmes retreads (except the modern ones) necessarily require a prose which resembles Doyle's and emulates the haunting world he created. You have to capture the way Holmes and Watson expressed themselves. Yet, at this most basic level, 'The House of Silk' fails.

As many others here have stated, it keeps slipping into a lumbering modern prose Doyle could not possibly have written. I accept nobody cares about the odd mistake or anachronism (though any decent imitator should do their best to avoid them.) But the overall style of the book is another matter and can't help having a major effect on the characterisation. The original Holmes would never, for example, say 'That's right' as he does here when someone recognises him. Not only is that modern English, it also feels utterly wrong for what is supposed to be a languorous, meditative hero.

Holmes, as Doyle created him, was a formidable brooding and highly intelligent figure, given to small bursts of enthusiasm. Here in contrast he is transformed into a sometimes garrulous and gross man who, for example, calls Watson 'My Boy' like some jovial saloon bar raconteur. Similarly, at one critical point in a perilous case, he suddenly claims inexplicably and irrelevantly 'no harm has been done' when it palpably has and they are nowhere near a solution.

Unike Doyle's detective, who appraised police officers on their merits, this one disparages not just Lestrade but "almost every police officer he encountered." It comes as no surprise therefore when he starts making very odd deductions. Watson is impressed when the detective correctly deduces that a child with an illness has influenza. So how was this magic achieved? Holmes merely asserts that, because the illness is minor, it must be influenza!

And so-- dreadful to report but unsurprising-- Holmes here descends after failure into mawkish self-pity. He wonders aloud how he can go on living and even asserts "I have no right to call myself a detective." Doyle's character would certainly express poignant regret, he'd get the blues, play his violin, stop eating. But he'd never indulge in this kind of histrionic, breast-beating or deny his own skills.

There are points of interest in the plot but the tone is so jarring they go for almost nothing. In the early pages of the book Horowitz manages to misspell the name of Doyle's literary idol Edgar Allan Poe. A tiny proofing error, hardly worth mentioning. And yet it is the one mistake Doyle himself could and would never have made. This small false note and all the much bigger ones tell the same story. This is not Doyle's world; unfortunately it is not even a very good fake.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great book except you find that the "house of Silk" is a child prostitution ring using homless boys. This made me sick as i was a victim of male sexual abuse. Topics of this nature should contain a warning or rating!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2015
Meh. Just meh. Nothing remarkable, just a typical pastiche of the Holmes genre. So. Meh.
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19 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2011
The book wouldn't half bad if it was not supposed to be a Sherlock Holmes story. The writing style doesn't do a half bad job of imitating the originals, but unfortunately it's just an imitation and not evocation (most of time he just references details in other stories to give it familiarity). Holmes character is pretty far off - a lot more emotional and less scientific and calculating.

My biggest concern, and one that lost it a few stars, is that parents will need to review the story first before deciding if they want their children to read this. The subject matter might be very inappropriate - which was not the case of the original series. I strongly encourage parents to read it first.
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8 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2012
Horowitz totally lacks the grace of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle not only in prose and skill in constructing a hole-less plot, but also in the subject matter chosen. To go into more detail would undermine the reader's "pleasure" with the book as much as reading the book to its end will undermine the reader's "pleasure" with the book.
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19 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2011
This is NOT a good story for children to read - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would NEVER EVER write about a group of pedophiles. I'm absolutely disgusted. I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan - I've read the original books and short stories numerous times. I will give Anthony Horowitz credit that he does evoke the writing style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but that is as far as it goes in similarity. First, the story itself is not only revolting but really far off base from the adventures we have in the original series - I'm fairly certain Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is rolling over in his grave. I think that the trustees of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle let this go forward because all the copyrights have run out and they want more money coming in. Pathetic.
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