While Batman is often described as the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes must be the world’s best known. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s consulting detective has been thrilling readers for almost 130 years with his masterful uses of reasoning, disguise and deduction to solve almost any crime. Doyle’s original Holmes adventures can be found in four novels and 56 short stories. These have been adapted to stage, radio, television and film, and the characters have been used by many authors for additional adventures as well. The house of silk is one of the new adventures.
Holmes has died, and Dr. John Watson, in his advanced age, has decided to document an adventure that he found simply too shocking and monstrous to write about when it occurred. He has made arrangements with his solicitors to hold the manuscript for 100 years before releasing it for publication, in the hope that all involved will have passed away (and be spared the shame of being associated with the exploits recounted). Watson also hopes that the sensibilities of future readers will enable them to deal better with the ramifications of the case.
It all begins when Edmund Carstairs, a London fine arts dealer, requests Holmes’ help. He is being menaced by a strange man with a scar who wears a flat cap. He believes the man is part of a criminal gang from Boston where a robbery occurred involving several paintings from Carstairs’ firm. He believes the man has followed him back to London, and Carstairs needs Holmes’ assistance to determine who the man is and what he wants. Holmes agrees to help, but then Carstairs’ home is robbed. While appearing to be a simple break-in, the theft will lead Holmes and Watson into a web of intrigue and conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of London’s elite families and into the depths of the city's most depraved.
In The house of silk, the game is again afoot! Author Anthony Horowitz captures the tone and sensibility of Victorian London found in Doyle’s original works, and takes readers on a rousing adventure. All of the elements necessary to the enjoyment of a Holmes aficionado are present, set within a completely new mystery. And Horowitz is so skilled at recreating the Holmes oeuvre, the novel is one of the few Holmes pastiches to receive the endorsement of the Doyle estate.
An important final note: Horowitz does shine a light on some of the darker elements of Victorian life that Doyle never would have approached, and the crux of the mystery lies in one of those dark corners. Some readers may find the solution to the mystery distasteful.
For other novels featuring Sherlock Holmes, and not written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, check LAPL Reads' book list, Still Afoot--Sherlock Holmes Pastiches.