Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Guest Post: The House of Silk

The new Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk

Any detective fiction buff worth their salt will be familiar with the adventures of Sherlock Holmes outside the current star-studded movie series. And those who’ve read entries in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless series will note a substantially small amount of testosterone-fueled action, but no shortage of quick British wit or clever plot construction. Indeed, in many ways the mysteries of the Sherlock Holmes series set the stage for countless future mystery and detective fiction authors whether or not they realize it. The superhumanly analytic Holmes and his ever-present sidekick Dr. Watson tackled seedy crime rings and uncovered suspicious deaths all over London to the delight of millions of readers, all of whom assumed the adventures ended with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s death in 1930.

But there are more adventures yet. Last year and for the first time ever the Conan Doyle Estate approved the publication of a new Sherlock Holmes work by an author other than Sir Arthur himself. The renowned English hard crime author Anthony Horowitz was allowed to publish the latest installment in the Sherlock Holmes series, known as The House of Silk. While it should be noted that there do exist other Holmes tales outside of those written by Conan Doyle, this work by Horowitz represents the first that is recognized by Conan Doyle’s Estate as befitting of the author’s tone and aesthetic for the series.

What’s it about?
Anthony Horowitz was quite clever with his construction of this novel. Set up in the traditional style of Dr. Watson narrating events of a past case, the introduction sets up a practical reason for the absence of another classic Holmes story in the past hundred years. The contents of “The Case of the Man in the Flat Cap and the House of Silk” involves topic deemed to dangerous to discuss at the time, so Watson instructed his heirs to publish the work a hundred years after his death.

The tale itself is in the same late nineteenth century London setting familiar to diehard Holmes fans. The case in question involves a Mr. Edmund Carstairs, an art dealer who claims to be harassed by a mysterious man in a flat cap. The man is allegedly part of a crime organization that may or may not be behind the loss of several prized paintings in Boston that Mr. Carstairs had intended to sell for a fortune. This simple enough case, of course, is complicated by events not fully realized by Holmes or Watson until much later in the book. The perpetrators behind the piling crimes and conspiracies stretch higher and higher in the hierarchies of London government and society until it’s climactic end, which of course I’ll let you discover on your own.

Is it worth a read?The truth is that The House of Silk is a great novel no matter where your loyalties lie with Sherlock Holmes. Some purist fans won’t give the novel the time of day because of the new authorship, but the writing is so true to form and the story so engrossing that the matter of authenticity is irrelevant. Even if you’re not familiar with crime novels in a Victorian setting, I’d still heartily recommend this book. Anthony Horowitz does Sir Arthur Conan Doyle credit and then some with The House of Silk, and we’re all the luckily beneficiaries of his work.

Byline:This is a guest post from Jacelyn Thomas. Jacelyn writes about identity theft protection for IdentityTheft.net. She can be reached at: jacelyn.thomas @ gmail.com.

258 comments:

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Anne Stuart said...

I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. In fact, I grew up with it along with Harry Potter that my much older cousins passed along to me. I am not a purist, and honestly, I have been craving for a new Sherlock adventure. The movies missed the mark, I guess. I'm willing to give The House of Silk a chance and I have a feeling that this will be great!

buddy2blogger said...

I liked this pastiche as well. Nice cameos and vintage climax were the best parts of this book.

Have you read the book "Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes" by David Stuart Davies. This book is a must read for fans of the Granada adaptation and/or Jeremy Brett.

Cheers!

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