My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Two points about THE HOUSE OF SILK (and the notion of writing a Sherlock Holmes story in general):
- Sherlock has been done so many times, especially recently, that the character is basically a cut-out. You prop it up, and substitute whoever you like, be it Robert Downey Jr. or Benedict Cumberbatch.
- That said, the author (in this case, Anthony Horowitz) is in a slightly odd position. Because everyone is so familiar with Holmes, all his characterization feels like a retread. I almost skimmed over those parts … keen intellect, yeah yeah … stunning deductions … yeah, been there.
That said, Horowitz tells a good tale, weaving orphaned children, immigrants, a man apparently threatened by an Irish gangster, and the nefarious doings of well-to-do into a story with a bunch of twists and turns that he ties together in a way that is both surprising and satisfying.
He also writes well. It isn’t just good prose, but he adds period detail with his use of language, especially anachronistic terms.
It’s not the kind of book that I’d expect to see shortlisted for the Booker, but it’s a good story, a fun read, and moves along at a lively pace.