Usually, I feel as if I can give readers a taste of the book I’m reviewing so they can determine if it’s for them. Anthony Horowitz’ The House of Silk is an exception. I doubt that I can do justice to this remarkable Sherlock Holmes book. You may know that this is the first time the estate of Conan Doyle has authorized a Sherlock Holmes book. Horowitz certainly earned that confidence. Take my word for it. If you are a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, you’ll want to try this book.
Once again, Dr. Watson relates the story of a complex case that Sherlock Holmes agreed to take. Watson’s wife was out of town for a short while, so he moved back to 221B Baker Street just in time to get caught up in the adventure. Now, years later, after Holmes has died, Watson can finally tell the truth about the adventures of The Man in the Flat Cap and The House of Silk. They were two cases linked together, but the details are so appalling that Watson wanted them locked away after his death, and not released for one hundred years.
In discussing Sherlock Holmes, Watson wrote, “It was always his belief that I exaggerated his talents and the extraordinary insights of his brilliant mind.” However, in this case, that’s not true. It’s fascinating to watch Holmes link the two cases at the end of the chronicle.
At the end of November, 1890, an art dealer, Edmund Carstairs, showed up at Holmes’ lodging to report he was being stalked by an American, Keelan O’Donoghue, a member of the Flat Cap Gang of Irish hoodlums from Boston. The notorious gang had robbed a train with priceless paintings on it, destroying the paintings, and killing the guard Carstairs had hired. When Carstairs hired a detective to find the gang, deaths followed, and now Carstairs was convinced O’Donoghue was out to get him. Although Holmes didn’t immediately take Carstairs’ case, subsequent events convinced him to take action. That action would subsequently lead to the worst trouble of Holmes’ career.
When Holmes hired his usual band of street urchins, the Baker Street Irregulars, led by Wiggins, the group of boys included a new one, Ross. And, Ross’ actions, including his subsequent murder, would take Holmes and Watson into a case that they might not be able to resolve. Watson himself expressed puzzlement. How do you get from a dead hoodlum and bank robber to the deaths of two children, the business of the white ribbon and the House of Silk, to Holmes accused of murder?
It’s a story only Dr. Watson can tell. And, Anthony Horowitz does a wonderful job in capturing the voice and the atmosphere that readers of Conan Doyle’s adventures remember. If you were ever caught up in the stories, the fog and hansom cabs, the clubs and politics, the crime of Holmes’ London, you’ll be caught up once again in this extraordinary piece. Welcome to The House of Silk.
Anthony Horowitz’ website is www.anthonyhorowitz.com
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. Mulholland Books. ©2011. ISBN 9780316196994 (hardcover), 294p.
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