The House of Silk
Rating: 4 Stars
It is November 1890 and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent weeks. Intrigued, 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 and the mysterious ‘House of Silk’ …
This was another book that I had had for a while after buying it on the recommendation from a friend (it was also on offer, it’s probably becoming clear that I very rarely buy anything full price), I’ve never read an original Sherlock Holmes story although I have watched and enjoyed various adaptations. I have read a lot of Anthony Horowitz before and watched a lot of the stuff he has written for TV.
This book was different, it doesn’t sound like Horowitz. It’s really quite eerie how he’s inhabiting Watson’s voice, but it makes for a great read. I love crime fiction but I’m so often disappointed by guessing early on what’s going to happen. I got some inklings with this (for which I knocked half a star off – I’ll rarely give a crime novel 5 unless it’s managed to completely bamboozle me) but it definitely kept me guessing until the end when it comes to the full story. The only other thing I would quibble at would be the chase scene near the end – this felt a bit like Alex Rider invading Victorian England and, to me, was just a bit too out of place.
What really makes this book special however is the feel it gives you for London at this time. The level of detail is admirable and you really do feel like you’re following Watson through the streets of the city. Foundations were certainly laid for Horowitz to do further forays into the world of Holmes’ London and half way through I had scout around online and ordered a discounted copy of Moriarty to read afterwards.