The House of Silk
Anthony Horowitz
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Buy *The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel* by Anthony Horowitz online

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel
Anthony Horowitz
Mulholland Books
304 pages
November 2011
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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This richly imagined romp through the Victorian underworld proves that there is no substitute for a sharp mind. Dr. Watson unfolds the strange set of circumstances that steer him and Holmes to tackle their toughest case yet. Horowitz’s tale of the detective and his trusty sidekick plays out in the last days of November 1890. London is entrenched in a merciless winter, the streets so cold that even the gas lamps are in danger of freezing solid.

Our intrepid master investigator, admired for his heroic stoicism, encyclopedic memory, and his sharp mind, is truly flummoxed when art dealer Edmund Carstairs arrives at 221B Baker Street, telling him of a sinister rogue who approached his house in Wimbledon. The man looked devilish, with thin lips and a cheek that exhibited a livid scar. Carstairs is positive the man is Keelan O’Donaghue.

Carstairs is terrified that Keelan - a member of Boston’s Flat Cap Gang - has followed him to England in order to avenge the murder of his twin brother. He begs Holmes for help, positive that the deeds he committed in Boston are about to catch up with him. Carstairs' pleas take an interesting turn when his wife, Catherine, tells Holmes that a stranger entered their house and pilfered an antique necklace and fifty pounds.

From the chill wind of Westminster to the grime of Blackfriars, thick, yellow fog unfolds murder and death. Holmes enlists the help of the scruffy, ragged boys from the Baker Street division while the origins of the mysterious House of Silk become the subject of the police investigation. Events take a bloody turn when the body of a man thought to be Keenan is found in a private Bermondsey hotel, the knife that killed him penetrating his carotid artery.

Written in the manner of Gissing or Dickens, Horowitz’s tale follows the poor and the well-to-do, all connected by a landscape of pawn brokers, informers, opium dens, and whispering men inhabiting darkened rooms. The death of a street child, as tragic as it may be, is completely insignificant when set against the wider picture of Holmes rotting away in Holloway Prison after neglecting to heed the warnings to stay away from The House of Silk.

In The House of Silk--slick, fluid, and filled with fascinating period detail--Horowitz effortlessly channels Conon Doyle’s valiant champion. Quiet ease dissipates; London turns cold and hostile. The damp smell of the Thames river permeates and news trickles its way through every squalid basement, smearing everything it touches. Edmund Carstairs' spinster sister, Eliza, is convinced that she's being poisoned. Charged with solving Eliza’s curse, Watson reminds us that the smallest of details are often the most important.

Sherlock's knife's-edge intellect is strangely hypnotic. Watson is the perfect foil: intelligent, warm-hearted and capable. Horowitz’s dignified prose is heightened by moments of true excitement and horror, his page-turner capturing a real sense of urgency as he delivers the very essence of Doyle's charming, courageous hero.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2011

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