This one started promisingly. Solidly written. Interesting characters. Before mid way, however ... Hmm ... That solid writing isn't really taking us a...moreThis one started promisingly. Solidly written. Interesting characters. Before mid way, however ... Hmm ... That solid writing isn't really taking us anywhere. We're plodding along in Russia's mud. The interesting characters seem to be suppressed by the empress and they can't actually do anything exciting. The narrator, a spy in court, could have been an exciting person, but she becomes like an old maid, and by two thirds through I've nobody to cheer for or care about. Promising writing turned to tired writing. Sorry. I wanted to like this more.
Would I read another book by Stachniak? Of course I would; she's a skilled novelist and could do better. This one, however, didn't quite hit the mark.
Another play studied in depth. I even wrote an essay on it. Better than The Cherry Tree – more European. See this performed if you can. Brilliant scen...moreAnother play studied in depth. I even wrote an essay on it. Better than The Cherry Tree – more European. See this performed if you can. Brilliant scene where nutty as a fruit cake wife dances the Tarantella.(less)
This is the first book by Anthony Horowitz that I’ve read, though I’ve watched TV shows – such as Poirot – that he has a hand in. Finding out about th...moreThis is the first book by Anthony Horowitz that I’ve read, though I’ve watched TV shows – such as Poirot – that he has a hand in. Finding out about the extent of his work is a mere click away. I’m impressed. And, by the way, what an excellent name for a writer Horowitz is; instantly identifiable, unlike Logan – there must be at least two Logans – if the Terry Pratchett first novel award 2011 winners announcements are to be believed.
The cover of The House of Silk (Orion) caught my eye: The New Sherlock Holmes Novel. Now, since I had recently finished writing a novel featuring Sherlock Holmes, what else could I do but buy it?
Watson narrates, of course. It’s a year after Holmes’ death – we learn in the preface. That’s a disappointment. Nobody wants to think of Holmes dying; he just shouldn’t. After all, he even bounced back from Reichenbach Falls. Watson is an old man being tended by nurses. Telling this, thus far untold, Holmes story is a therapeutic exercise for him.
Once you get into Watson’s period voice, and when the story’s motor gets running, reading is a pleasure, not least because of the excellent quality of the writing. Valuable paintings are stolen, there’s gangster-related shenanigans in America, children are murdered (and perhaps worse), Holmes may hang for murder – if the guys from the mysterious House of Silk don’t kill him first. All the Holmesian stuff we know and love is here. Do I recall an intertextual reference to the Baskerville hound slipping by? Moriarty is there. Sherlock Holmes’ smarter brother has a role too. And don’t forget the famous Sherlock Holmes disguise kit. Approaching the conclusion, credulity gets stretched, but, hey, it’s the greatest detective who ever lived, and you have to allow yourself a stretchy credulity (otherwise you wouldn’t have enjoyed Harry Potter).
Without wanting to give too much away, I’ll reveal only that the most wicked (perhaps) of the crimes in this Holmes story is one that, to the best of my knowledge, Victorian writers retreated from addressing. The crime in question happened in those days perhaps even more that it does now, but society was less open back them. Criminals, I suspect, got away with more. In this sense, The House of Silk is indeed a Holmes story for the modern age.(less)