Author: Anthony Horowitz
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review By: Shana
Having read this absolutely wonderful novel, I understand why this is the first time the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate authorized a new Sherlock Holmes novel. Horowitz is masterful, giving period appropriate details, weaving a plot and conspiracy as complex as it is deplorable, and hitting all the right notes to make this feel authentically Holmes-ian without merely aping Conan Doyle.
The novel opens as Dr. Watson, an old man now, reveals that he is about to put in writing a tale that he has been sworn to secrecy about. A mystery whose unraveling so shook the halls of power he could not risk telling it until now, when many of the main actors have passed away and he himself nears the end of his life. The story is one of two intertwined mysteries, one on a smaller scale of personal revenge and one larger with machinations at the highest levels acting concertedly to cover it up. We quickly are reacquainted with characters and set pieces known from the original canon - from 221B Baker Street and Ms. Hudson, to Lestrade and the Irregulars, to Holmes's meditative moods and Mycroft's rotund presence at the Diogenes Club.
The mystery itself is layered and slowly revealed. Astute readers may have a guess at what could be happening behind closed doors at the eponymous House of Silk. But what made me truly love this book was how Horowitz respected the groundwork laid in the original Holmes stories but was not bound by the conventions of the time. Where some older novels, Conan Doyle's included, can feel stilted in language and emotionally staid, Horowitz gives the characters and their reactions a verisimilitude and resulting warmth and approachability, ire and coldness, disdain and fear, that is sometimes missing in in the original novels.
This is one of my favorite iterations of Sherlock Holmes. The balance of old school mystery with human touches makes it a pleasure to read, though disturbing and infuriating at the conclusion. The ending especially is all too plausible. Where power often evades a full reckoning for what was done, and the downtrodden are only partially saved and only for a short period of time. Still, despite the grounding in real life, this still was a pleasurable read. Highly recommended.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...