BOOK REVIEW: ‘The House of Silk’ proves you can go Holmes again

Books

The House of Silk by Anthony HorowitzWhile you’re scratching absentmindedly at the violin waiting for mid-December to bring the new Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, it may interest you to know that there’s a new printed adventure starring the world’s most famous consulting detective and his trusty companion Dr. John Watson.

The House of Silk is presented as a lost chapter in Watson’s chronicles of crime solving, one that was too scandalous to be released along with all the other tales of Holmes’ exploits.

It’s by Anthony Horowitz, the author of children’s novels like the Alex Rider series, translator to screen of many of Agatha Christie’s Poirot adventures and creator of the outstanding British mystery series Foyle’s War, about a policeman in the south of England solving crimes while the Second World War rages around him. That series brought home the darker side of human nature — which Horowitz manages to do deftly in The House of Silk, merging the refined storytelling of classic Holmes tales with the grim realities of a less romantic world.

New Holmes adventures are nothing new, really — most of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works have long been in the public domain in much of the world, leading to all manner of anthologies and series starring his Baker Street duo, from the Lovecraftian mashup Shadows over Baker Street (a favorite of mine) to the more recent A Study in Sherlock and the Mary Russell novels of Laurie R. King, which see Holmes retired and married to a woman who’s more than a match for his impressive intellect.

But with Nov. 1’s release of The House of Silk, this is the first time the author’s heirs have themselves authorized a new Holmesian outing. And what a gaslit ride through the end of Victorian times it is!

Horowitz’ prose is clear and compelling, very akin to Conan Doyle’s own voice yet just a bit more even and accessible for today’s reader. The dialogue is witty and the plot fast-moving and intriguing — and the promised scandal shocking enough to raise a disturbing bridge between an idealized age and today’s darker depravities.

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About Jayson Peters

Nerdvana's founder and owner. Digital editor, social media director, educator. Lifelong Star Wars fan and Trekker who also worships all things Tolkien and Doctor Who.