So, OK, The House of Silk may not be written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And OK, if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle knew that people were STILL being forced to write Sherlock Holmes stories (something he grew very sick of during his lifetime) even after his death, well, he’d probably be groaning in his grave. But screw it. I love Sherlock Holmes, and if someone manages to emulate Conan Doyle successfully, then I’m going to go out and buy their books. Kapeesh?
Written by crime-writing legend Anthony Horowitz, The House of Silk begins with Dr Watson announcing that this story is so scandalous that it can only be told years after both his and Sherlock’s deaths. A combination of two stories, The House of Silk first tells the story of ‘The Flat Cap Gang’ – a criminal gang in America whom a wealthy English man believes is seeking revenge. When Sherlock enlists the help of the Bakers Street Irregulars to find the suspect, the illusive House of Silk becomes involved in Sherlock’s investigation and suddenly things go from simple to sinister. Deaths, an escape from jail and a truly abhorrent club all become mixed into Horowitz’s attempt to create a new story about a beloved detective.
As I wrote in a previous post, I think Anthony Horowitz does a marvellous job of not only creating a suspenseful and page-turning crime thriller, but also of portraying Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson is an accurate way. Sherlock Holmes is the most adapted character on the screen and page, and unfortunately, more often than not, the adaptations aren’t a fair representation of Conan Doyle’s creation. (Apparently, there’s a screen adaptation where Dr Watson is the brainiac and Sherlock is the slightly slow sidekick. The thought actually hurts my soul.)
Of course, recreating Sherlock Holmes is a double-edged sword. Not only does Horowitz have legions of fans to consider, but he also has to create a realistic story…set one hundred years ago. Not an easy task. Yet it is something that Horowitz does with aplomb. One of the finest aspect of a Sherlock story is the descriptions and inclusions of olde ye London, and in this regard, Horowitz does not fail to deliver – not only did it make me nostalgic of London (don’t worry London, I’ll be back there in a couple of months!), but it also played a necessary character in the storyline.
Since Horowitz is practically a legend in the crime-writing world (he writes the screen plays of Poirot and Midsomer Murders on top of everything else), I find it almost unnecessary to add that he does a fantastic job of creating a story that keeps you guessing until the end – not to mention, one that includes all the characteristics of a typical Holmes’s investigation – i.e. Holmes’s deducing facts off the barest of information and Dr Watson thinking he is solving the crime when he is really acting as part of Holmes’s bigger plans. Finally, Horowitz, on top of all of this, also manages to weave the beloved secondary characters into his storyline – Mrs Hudson, the Baker Street Irregulars and even Professor Moriarty. Bravo, my friend, bravo.
Plus, I appreciate that Horowitz doesn’t even attempt to add a hokey romance into the mix, which so many authors deem necessary. As Horowitz himself adds in the afterword, there has only ever been one woman for Sherlock Holmes.
Have you read The House of Silk or anything by Anthony Horowitz? Are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes? Do you think adaptations can be done successfully? Let me know!