Smooth as Silk

Anthony Horowitz has a long list of accomplishments.  He has written screenplays for the award-winning PBS series Foyle’s War and the series Collision and he produced the first seven episodes of the very popular series Midsomer Murders  He is the author of the popular children’s series Alex Rider, The Diamond Brothers, and the Power of Five and was commissioned by the Conan Doyle Estate and Orion Books to write a new Sherlock Holmes novel, resulting in a brilliant book called The House of Silk.

For this novel, Horowitz has completely changed his writing style from the fast-paced, modern action of Alex Rider books to make a smooth and seamless transition from Conan Doyle‘s stories to this new Victorian mystery which, according to the Preface, Watson wrote after Holmes’ death and deposited with his bankers with the proviso that it not be published for 100 years due to the events being “too monstrous, too shocking to appear in print”.  Horowitz’s prose clearly gets into the mind of Dr. Watson and thoroughly understands the symbiotic relationship between Watson and Holmes.  His depiction of Victorian England seems as accurate as it can seem to one who didn’t actually live in that time.  The work draws attention to the deplorable poverty and lack of societal concern for orphans in London. He says “some five and a half million people [live] in the six hundred square miles of the area known as the Metropolitan Police District of London and then, as always, those two constant neighbours, wealth and poverty, were living uneasily side by side”.  I found myself digging out the original Sherlock Holmes stories to compare the style am thoroughly convinced of the authentic ring to Horowitz’s work.

Despite the dark mystery of The House of Silk, the story is full of the genius of Holmes, the twists and turns of Conan Doyle, and the necessary and fruitful misinterpretations of Watson.  The descriptions are richly sensory and the plot commanding; one of those books you read in two days because you can’t put it down.  His sequel, Moriarity, is scheduled to be published October 23rd, 2014.  You can read more about it at the stunning website called Moriarity.

Excerpt:

And yet how oppressed I felt as the cab dropped us beside an alleyway near the Limehouse Basin.  The fog, thick and yellow, was unfolding through the streets, deadening every sound.  Vile, it seemed, like some evil animal snuffling through the darkness in search of its prey and as we made our way forward it was as if we were delivering ourselves into its very jaws.  We passed through the alley, trapped between red brick walls dripping with moisture and rising up so high that, but for the faint silvering of the moon, they might have completely blotted out the sky.  At first, our own footsteps were the only sounds we heard, but then the passage widened and the whinny of a horse, the soft rumble of a steam engine, the rippling of water and the shrill cry of a sleepless baby echoed out from different directions, each in its own way defining the obscurity all around.  p.137 The House of Silk

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About mysm2000

Having taught elementary school for more than 25 years and been involved in many amazing technology and curriculum projects, I find I've developed a myriad of interests based on literature I've read and music I've heard. I've followed The Wright Three to Chicago, Ansel Adams to Colorado, The Kon Tiki Expedition to Easter Island, Simon & Garfunkel lyrics to New York City, Frank Lloyd Wright to Fallingwater, Pennsylvania, and have only just begun.
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