Let’s face it, when it comes to the afterlife of Sherlock Holmes in fiction, some attempts are better than others. I was surprised when doing my Christmas shopping a few years ago to spot that the Arthur Conan Doyle estate had endorsed The House of Silk a Holmes novel by Anthony Horowitz, who is probably best known by any teacher or parent for his Alex Rider books.
Knowing that Sherlock Holmes’ goes down well in my house regardless of the quality (we’ve spent days as a family flicking channel to channel on a Holmes binge and even the dire Young Sherlock Holmes film is included) I decided to get it for my brother. I just got around to reading it this week and I have to say- I was really impressed.
The novel is framed with the suggestion that this is a Sherlock Holmes story that Watson had written and had sealed in a vault for 100 years because the details of the case were so shocking that the ensuing scandal would have brought down society had they been published at the time of writing. And indeed, elements of this story are horrible. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone too young watch a PG film read this, and I don’t normally try to impose age ratings on books. For a mature reader, the twist and turns of the plot are classic Holmes and an engaging read.
As well as the plot, Horowitz gets the tone of Conan Doyle’s writing just right, I could have been reading an original for all I was concerned- there was nothing jarring or anachronistic and I like Watson’s references to previous cases. If you haven’t read all the original stories I suppose that there could be spoilers, but that just gives you an excuse to read all the original books.
A new Sherlock Holmes book by Anthony Horowitz as a follow up to The House of Silk is planned for publication in October 2014.