“Show Holmes a drop of water and he would deduce the existence of the Atlantic. Show it to me and I would look for a tap. That was the difference between us.”
— Anthony Horowitz, The House of Silk
The number of stories based on the great Sherlock Holmes is astounding. But not all of them are approved by the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate. It’s one hell of a honor for Anthony Horowitz to be grafted onto an author’s legacy like that. The House of Silk is the first book by Anthony Horowitz regarding Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. One can only be happy to see the dynamic duo back in action without it being another pastiche or attempt to freely recreate Sir Conan Arthur Doyle’s work. It’s easy to grow tired of fan-fiction based off of one of the most genuine partners in crime in literature. In an abundance of tales lived by the great detective and his trustee sidekick, this one is set in London, 1890. It’s upon the arrival of a desperate fine art dealer that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are put into a turbulent set of adventures filled with surprises at every juncture they reach. Each surprise launches the detective and the doctor onto fragile grounds that might lead them to live the most unexpected turns of events.
While it was unarguably one of the darkest tales with Holmes, the writing was not my cup of tea. I felt like it lacked in the world-building department and that it was short on descriptions of people and places. Although it is easy to imagine the kind of setting and historical background that comes with Sherlock Holmes, I felt like a lot was left to the imagination of fans. While I’d advocate for author’s to skip over unnecessary details and leave it all to the deductive reasoning within all of the readers, I felt like the writing had another purpose behind this shortcoming. In fact, the story is quite heavy on dialogue and truly felt like the book wanted to be adapted into a cinematic experience. That’s what made me go through this book peering. Every moment of interaction between characters felt like something that wanted to become a screenplay. Even in that light, I still found myself enjoying the plot at hand. It stayed genuine to the creator’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes and his world.
The plot is indeed clever and filled with twists that honor the traditional adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Action after action after action, the plot always kept on moving forward. While the story begins with something absolutely banal, it’s with keen eyes of Sherlock Holmes that things started to unravel to the depths of the gutters. The momentum of this novel is quite steady, but it’s magic is in it’s ability to stir your thoughts and keep you guessing till the end. The odds of figuring out every single twist that Anthony Horowitz throws at you are pretty slim. He does a fantastic and brutal job at delivering a page-turning story, and his relentless ability to bring into the plain-field a true game-changer is mesmerizing. It’s no surprise that even the narrator, our dear Watson, has kept this story till now. The things that both characters will go through are not ordinary and are definitely taboo and counter-intuitive for the time period they live in. The very fact that Horowitz was able to put Sherlock Holmes face to face with a cruel reality like this one is something that was much needed. Nothing like seeing the greatest detective learn to deal with the unimaginable.
Being able to grasp the very essence that makes Sherlock, Sherlock, remains a talent that only some authors will every be able to contemplate. Anthony Horowitz definitely succeeded in delivering an authentic character. He even had the balls to challenge the detective by not only giving him a mystery with a devastating revelation, but by also putting his mind and body to the test in numerous ways. However, while reading The House of Silk, I personally found his personnage to have a modern aura surrounding him. More often than not, I felt like Sherlock was from beyond his time (which normally would be quite a compliment). But this in fact brings back my point about the book feeling like it was crying to be adapted into a TV show or a movie. I also felt like a lot of iconic moments in Holmes’ history were mashed into this one book. The references to past stories were here and there, but the famous lines of Holmes and his signature moments of the past were being repeated under numerous spotlights. In fact, the book would be perfect for anyone who’s never known Holmes’ or has completely forgotten all the things that made him awesome. As much as these elements remind us of the character’s basic identity, I felt like the author could’ve done much better in developping the character in a brand new light.
The House of Silk remains a great installment into the Holmes’ universe and brings shocking events in a time and period where thing’s like this have never been seen before. While I might have found issues in the new, yet reminescent, style of Anthony Horowitz, I am still able to see how reinvigorating it is for fans of Sherlock Holmes to finally have a great story with the great dynamic duo. With this new installment into the Sherlock Homes legacy, Anthony Horowitz brings readers more bromance, more mystery and more adventure for fans to indulge. In fact, I’m quite excited to see what his sequel, the very book that originally piqued my interest, has in store for me. Moriarty sounds like the story that would make me praise the additions that Anthony Horowitz brings to the Sherlock Holmes name.
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