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The House of Silk Hardcover – November 1, 2011
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Anthony Horowitz is a famed writer of young adult action novels (the Alex Rider series) and also an acclaimed writer of the PBS series Foyle's War (a must see for mystery lovers/WWII buffs). His connections to Sherlock Holmes and the Canon were not as established.
Conan Doyle had a distinct writing style (somewhat sparse on detail of Victorian life but more than enough to fill the canvas) and created vivid and memorable characters. Although Holmes solved his share of murders, he also solved all kinds of other crimes and mysteries. Creating the perfect pastiche requires echoing Conan Doyle and remembering that Holmes was not a superhero (as he is portrayed in the Robert Downey, Jr. movies).
In The House of Silk, Horowitz gets it right on all counts. The tone, the writing, the characters and even the plotting matches up beautifully with Conan Doyle. Horowitz also brings back other minor characters from the Canon for non-distracting cameo appearances, which is a delight for lovers of the Canon. Yet, Horowitz makes Sherlock his own, creating a story with a bit more action than Conan Doyle gave us, which will keep you glued to the book. The story is a classic tale of Holmes and Watson, with Watson as the narrator. Watson writes the story after Holmes has passed away and seals it away for one hundred years because the story is to explosive to be shared during their lifetimes. From there, the story unfolds with two unrelated story lines, the action builds and Horowitz captures your imagination. If like mysteries at all, this is one not to miss. If you love Sherlock Holmes, this is a must read.
First, there have been many authorized additions to the Canon. This is hardly the first and most definitely not the best. My personal favorite is The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Adrian Conan Doyle ( son and 'literary executor' of Arthur Conan Doyle ) and John Dickson Carr ( well worth reading for his own stories under his name and his pen name of Carter Dickson ).
Second, Horowitz seems to have attempted to modernize the attitudes, actions and style to suit today's audience. We lose some of the Victorian charm and the feeling of being in another era. I find that detracts from the book.
Third, both the Holmes' seem somewhat out of character. Sherlock is less the analytic machine, cold and emotionless and more moody, brooding and a bit weepy. It takes too long for him to return to character. Mycroft is more concerned with keeping his position than doing what is right for the country. It feels like Horowitz takes book time to allow his characters to find their pace.
Fourth, Horowitz finds it necessary to provide a back story in the preface that is not necessary to the story. I didn't find that it added much beyond page count.
In spite of all those negative words, Horowitz is an experience and capable writer. It may take a while to for the reader to discover that. And, eventually there is a sufficiency of action and mystery to keep the puzzle solver distracted and attracted.
The bottom line is that it is a book worth reading. It's just not as good or as unique as the publisher would like us to believe.
I rate the House of Silk (read an Advanced Reader's Copy) by far the best pastiche I've ever read. The story line is exciting and interesting. Holmes' and Watson's characters are remarkably consistent with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's (ACD) portrayals. And, unlike numerous other pastiches, Holmes is at the top of his deduction and detection form.
Though the writing seems consistent overall with that in the canon, the only note of discordance, as mentioned in the title of my review, is that Horowitz's writing is superior to that of Doyle's - more flowing and clear. Purportedly written by Watson towards the end of his life, the faithful doctor is more reflective and revelatory than in his "earlier stories." Comments on Mycroft, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade were original, illuminated their and Watson's characters and relationships, and, again, consistent with how they were portrayed by ACD - just "deeper." These expansions were all believable, coming from an older, more experienced, more thoughtful Watson, who accepts he's nearing the end of his natural life.
Can't recommend this book highly enough. Only strongly hope that this is just the beginning of Horowitz's Holmes' novels.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderful book, well written and hard to put down until I finished it. I highly recommend it to all Holmes fans!Published 11 days ago by H. S. Campbell
Well done...just doesn't have Doyle's rhythm. A minor issue.Published 29 days ago by Michele Trierweiler
I have never been a big fan of the Arthur Conan Doyle novels, but found this modern take on the classic Sherlock Holmes thriller to be an engrossing and riveting read. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Denise L. Meyer
satisfying mystery, with good twists and turns...I recommend itPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Reading this I felt like I needed a book club and a glass of brandy. Horowitz's voice as Watson was fantastic. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ann Alexandrowicz
Totally enjoyed this book.written in the original Sherlock Holmes style of books. I would recommend this book to any Sherlock Holmes fan.Published 1 month ago by Diane
Very good attempt at duplicating Conan Doyle. A bit overlong; the plots twists at the end a bit of a stretch beyond Holmesian logic; the dramatic plots twists a bit cinematic in... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Barry Mike
Written in the same style as the originals, it made me remember why I fell in love with Holmes in the first place.Published 1 month ago by The Widow Roberts