Jonathan's Reviews > The House of Silk

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
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's review
Dec 28, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: want, mystery, sherlock-holmes, favourites
Read from February 20 to 26, 2012

I tip my hat off to you Anthony Horowitz. Having loved your Alex Rider novels because of their brilliant plotting I now see that you are capable of turning your hand to constructing an incredible Sherlock Holmes novel.

In an age where to the majority of people Sherlock Holmes means either Benedict Cumberbatch or Robert Downey Jnr it is refreshing to see some who still recall that Holmes was first and foremost one of the greatest creations of literature. Few who know that still don't know that it was Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin who inspired one of the greatest detectives of all time. But all of that is mere water under the bridge when it comes to this tale.

The writing:

Horowitz manages to capture the style and tone of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's writing to excellent effect. His characterisation of Watson and Holmes is spot on and one could almost be forgiven for forgetting that Doyle died years ago and this is a modern tale. However it must be noted that in this tale the use of apostrophes at certain points is unwarranted. In fact I wonder how the editor did not pick up the fact that in Victorian times apostrophes were not used so much as they are today. I'm referring to the fact that the novel is intentionally written to suggest that Watson wrote it centuries ago. And - as another source so helpfully pointed out - Doyle's phrase was "the game is afoot" not "the game's afoot" as Horowitz chooses to write. That said this is a small blemish compared to the rest of the book for on the whole he writing is superb.

The characters
Or capturing the spirit of Doyle's work:

Horowitz handles Doyle's characters with love and devotion. Perhaps an apt metaphor would be to say he devotes himself to the story like a man who finally marries the woman he has loved for years after she has been widowed for a time. A lengthy expression to be sure but you can forgive me this once. For certainly the tales of Sherlock Holmes have been 'widowed' for many years and few writers capable of continuing the stories have stepped forward.

Holmes is portrayed properly as the detective his fans (I one of them) know and love with his casual deductions and use of disguises. Watson is again shown as the loyal doctor, biographer and friend to Sherlock Holmes who both humanises the sometimes mechanical Sherlock and provides a window to the detective's greatness. The often incompetent (well compared to Holmes) Inspector Lestrade provides an appearance along with Mycroft Holmes. So too does Watson's wife Mary albeit briefly. There are a few other familiar faces but I won't spoil the surprise of who they are by telling. References are also made to past adventures and to the magazines which Doyle's adventures were published - although Watson claims to have published them of course.

The plot:

Now the most important part of any Sherlock Holmes novel is the plot as well as the two main characters. And I am pleased to say that the plot did not disappoint in the slightest.

The book begins with a prologue informing the viewer that since Sherlock Holmes is dead Watson can safely put his pen to paper and reveal a very strange set of adventures. Which of course provides the reader with the foresight that no matter what next commences neither Watson nor Sherlock will die. The following case branches out into two seemingly disconnected adventures and it may be disconcerting at first for the reader to pick up what's really going on.

The real brilliance of the plot however is how, like all truly strong Holmes adventures, you cannot easily pick the ending until it ends. You may have suspicions but truly the ending remains a secret. And I for one as someone who usually finds it easy to tell how the plot of a book may end appreciates a nice twist that wraps everything together. You'll find most of my favourite books have this twist or are incredibly beautifully written. Anyway this had fast paced plotting that was brilliant and surprising and cannot be put into words.


This was a Sherlock Holmes feast for the fans. It had references, it had the characters it had the plot and it had the writing. Even for those who are not fans of the original canon I still recommend this because it is a great book nonetheless. Perhaps my opinion is biased because Anthony Horowitz is a favourite author and because he accomplished something I believed near impossible but still it is a good book.

To sum it up in three words: read this book. I've already explained why and if you don't understand why then: "you see but you do not observe."
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Reading Progress

02/25/2012 page 162
03/27/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Jonathan Really enjoying this so far

Jonathan Forgot to mention though that the difference between a four or five star rating will arise from how it ends!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Great review. You definitely convinced me to read it.

Jonathan Thank you Lady D that's a real compliment!

message 5: by Mala (new) - added it

Mala @Jonathan:thank you for this detailed review. Would definately like to read this one. You may not like this but i do hope the current Sherlock series featuring Benedict Cumberbatch incorporates this tale into one of their seasons:-)

Jonathan I would appreciate seeing that occur with the current Sherlock series. I am a fan of the series because it remains relatively faithful in my view while creating something new.

Sydney Couldn't agree more. As a Doyle fanatic, I was very impressed with how this novel turned out. I am so happy he captured the true fundamentals of the Holmes character!

Jonathan So was I. The one issue I had as mentioned was the use of contractions but every novel has at least one obvious flaw. And what counts is the spirit of the characters and setting.

message 9: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Thanks for the great review. I've often read the back of this one in my local bookstore, debating whether or not the story can be done justice. Glad to hear it's worth it! I'll be picking this one up, thanks. :)

Jonathan Yeah the storytelling is very, very good. I liked his YA Alex Rider novels for the most part - particularly the last few he wrote - but this was even better.

message 11: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Yes! So happy to hear that this is worth reading!

message 12: by Amanda (new) - added it

Amanda Your review has inspired me to check this out! I would have been pretty wary of a "new" Sherlock Holmes story on its own.

Jonathan Glad to hear that you both are interested in this book. I got myself a whole book about the methods of Sherlock Holmes today...

Steve Stellar review, Jonathan! You support your points well and pile on the well-deserved praise.

Hasham Rasool Stupendous review! :-D

Amith Shunu I shall read this book and let me see if I am satisfied....

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