There’s been countless takes on Conan Doyle’s famous detective over the years but, as far as I’m aware, this is the only series that was officially sanctioned by the Estate. And I’m so pleased it was Horowitz that was given that honour, as I loved his take on Sherlock Holmes.
The plot itself opens in typical Holmes style, with a frazzled client turning up at 221B Baker Street. I found the section a little slow, as personally I didn’t really enjoy this story; ‘The Man With the Flat Cap’. If you’re feeling the same as I did, hang on, – there’s a much deeper, darker mystery here still to be explored; The House Of Silk.
The House Of Silk is a great modern take on the classic series; it retains the atmosphere of the era and captures the characters wonderfully, but eliminates some of the more archaic language and views which (I’m sorry to admit) held me back from completing loving the original books.
By telling the story in a reflective manner after Holmes’s death, Horowitz is able to reflect on the era with the benefit of hindsight, and the knowledge and culture which we understand now. “It sometimes occurs to me now, having witnessed so many momentous changes across the years, that I should have described at greater length the sprawling chaos of the city in which I lived.”
Horowitz gives Watson that chance to reflect on London here and he does it well. He really explores the city and culture, emphasising stark contrast of opulence and poverty, from seedy street corners to grand mansions. A snowy December in Victorian London, a carnival and a secret society – there’s loads of elements of historical novels that are enjoyable here, and Horowitz creates a thrilling sense of escapism amongst the high-octane mystery.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot itself, but it’s an interesting one. I had an inkling where it would go fairly early on, but I just didn’t think the writer would go down that path. Once you’ve read it, it’s definitely clear why Watson ‘wasn’t able’ to publish the scandalous tale at the time. But it makes a great read, and an interesting start to what I hope will be a strong series – I’ve already got Moriarty on my Kindle to read next.