The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Anthony Horowitz The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes novelThe House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz

FORMAT/INFO: The House of Silk is 304 pages long divided over a Preface, twenty numbered/titled chapters, and an Afterword. Narration is in the first person, exclusively via Dr. Watson. The House of Silk is self-contained. November 1, 2011 marks the North American Hardcover publication of The House of Silk via Mulholland Books. The UK edition (see below) will be published on the same day via Orion Books.

ANALYSIS: Between 1887 and 1927, Sherlock Holmes appeared in fifty-six short stories and four full-length novels written by the famous detective’s creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Since then, the popular character has appeared in countless stories in literature, film, television and other media, but 2011 marks the first time in eighty-one years that a new Sherlock Holmes novel has been fully endorsed by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate. That novel is The House of Silk.

The House of Silk is written by Anthony Horowitz, a choice I admit both surprised me and was a little worrisome at first. After all, not only had I never read anything by Anthony Horowitz before, but I thought he only wrote children’s novels. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from Horowitz in The House of Silk. However, after finishing the book, I can say with utmost confidence that Anthony Horowitz was the right person for the job. From Dr. Watson’s faithful narrative voice to the accurate portrayal of Sherlock Holmes and his recognizable idiosyncrasies, vices, and amazing powers of deduction to a skillfully executed plot full of signature Holmesian twists and revelations, Anthony Horowitz has written a Sherlock Holmes adventure that is not only rewardingly true to the originals, but also possesses a modern sensibility that will succeed with contemporary audiences.

Story-wise, The House of Silk takes place during the winter of 1890, but according to Dr. Watson’s Preface, the book was written a year after Sherlock Holmes’ death. As to why Watson waited twenty-five years before writing down the adventures of The Man in the Flat Cap and The House of Silk, not to mention giving instructions that the manuscript not be opened for one hundred years, the doctor explains that “the events which I am about to describe were simply too monstrous, too shocking to appear in print”, but goes on to state that “perhaps future readers will be more inured to scandal and corruption than my own would have been.” Which is indeed true. From here, The House of Silk starts off a bit slow with Holmes accepting a case that Watson describes as “trivial,” but eventually evolves into a conspiracy that encompasses “murder, torture, kidnap and the perversion of justice”. Along the way, Wiggins and the Baker Street Irregulars, Inspector Lestrade, Mycroft Holmes, and Sherlock’s gift for disguises all play a role in the novel, while Professor Moriarty may or may not make an appearance.

CONCLUSION: Initially I had concerns about The House of Silk due to my unfamiliarity with the author Anthony Horowitz, but any doubts I had were quickly put to rest the moment Sherlock Holmes was introduced in the novel. From then on, it felt like I had stepped back in time and was reading one of the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which is about as good as it gets. In closing, The House of Silk is a tremendous literary achievement by Anthony Horowitz and a triumphant return to 221b Baker Street for Sherlock Holmes fans old and new alike…

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel — (2011) Publisher: London,1890. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker Street. His name is Edmund Carstairs and he is being menaced by a wanted criminal who seems to have followed him all the way from America. Intrigued by the man’s tale, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston. As the pair delve deeper into the case, they stumble across a whispered phrase, “the House of Silk” — a mysterious entity and foe more deadly than any Holmes has encountered, and a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society…

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ROBERT THOMPSON (on FanLit's staff July 2009 — October 2011) is the creator and former editor of Fantasy Book Critic, a website dedicated to the promotion of speculative fiction. Before FBC, he worked in the music industry editing Kings of A&R and as an A&R scout for Warner Bros. Besides reading and music, Robert also loves video games, football, and art. He lives in the state of Washington with his wife Annie and their children Zane and Kayla. Robert retired from FanLit in October 2011 after more than 2 years of service. He doesn't do much reviewing anymore, but he still does a little work for us behind the scenes.

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