“London, 1890. 221B Baker Street. A fine arts dealer named Edmund Carstairs visits Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson to beg for their help. He is being menaced by a strange man in a flat cap–a wanted criminal who seems to have followed him all the way from America. In the days that follow, Carstair’s home is robbed and his family is threatened. And then the first murder takes place.
The House of Silk brings Sherlock Holmes back wiht all the nuance, pacing, and almost superhuman powers of analysis and deduction that made him the world’s greatest detective, in a case depicting events too shocking, too monstrous, ever to appear in print…until now.”
The House of Silk is the first Sherlock Holmes novel I’ve read that isn’t written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and while this is Anthony Horowitz’s best work (among his books I’ve read, I mean), it doesn’t really feel like an authentic Holmes novel.
Don’t get me wrong: Horowitz does get the time period right, and more importantly, he doesn’t deviate from the established characters of either Holmes or Watson–although, I must say his Watson is a lot more sentimental than what I remember from the stories I’ve already read.
What really sets The House of Silk apart as not a Doyle-written Sherlock Holmes novel is that it’s written for today’s readers.
I’m not saying that the original stories of Sherlock Holmes are slow-paced. They’re not. But neither were they written with the mindset that a reader can and will put a book down if they don’t find it engaging. Books today are written to be far more accessible, and thus, there is more competition.
The House of Silk is a fine novel, and author Horowitz makes a great attempt at emulating the voice of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But it is just that: an attempt. I think I would have enjoyed it more if the author had decided to give his own take on Sherlock Holmes–kind of like what Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss had done with their BBC drama series. Personally, I find the drama series more to my liking that the two blockbuster films featuring Robert Downey, Jr. because it’s more fresh and more interesting because of its new angle on the characters.
Then again, there’s the new Sherlock Holmes series Elementary that I feel took things too far. I love Lucy Liu, but John Watson should have stayed a guy. If they really wanted a strong female presence in the show, they could have chosen Mrs. Hudson (who is very bad-ass in her own way) or Irene Adler. But, I digress.
Going back to The House of Silk, it’s worth the price of the book and it is a fun read. But if you’ve already read a few of the original Sherlock Holmes novels, the challenge falls on not comparing this book to the ones Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote.