There’s so much good original crime fiction that I’d sworn off pastiches and continuations, but Horowitz’s own stuff is so good, and the latter had been recommended to me recently by, I think, JJ, that at £1 each I had to pick these up.
Although set in the same world, they are two very different beasts.
“The House of Silk” sees an aged Watson take up his pen to document two inter-linked cases: The Man in the Flat Cap and The House of Silk which for reasons that he says will become apparent he was not able to publish at the time. I was very impressed by the first case which had some very good ideas, but not so much by the second which felt like padding – but then if you’re going to publish a novel these days it seems like quantity can often be expected, sometimes to the detriment of quality. The prison break incident (slight spoiler – highlight to read) was also very well put together.
Points of interest for the Sherlockian are:
- Much speculation has been given to the number of times that Watson was married. In the preface he confirms that it was just twice.
- In the canon, Lestrade’s first initial is given as “G”. Here we learn that this stands for George.
- The Adventure of the Copper Beeches was first published in Strand Magazine in June 1892. This book is set in winter 1890 yet one character has already read this story as published in Cornhill Magazine. For players of The Game, does this mean that this story is automatically not a genuine case?
“Moriarty” is set immediately after the fateful events at the Reichenbach Falls and sees narrator, Frederick Chase, a Pinkerton agent, join forces with Inspector Athelney Jones (The Sign of Four) to investigate a ruthless Americna criminal who had been planning an alliance with Moriarty before the latter’s demise. This is the better of the two books and is able to stand on its own merits: within the world that Conan Doyle created, but with enough separation from the primary characters of Holmes and Watson.
My slightly spoilerish theories which I was quite wrong about are:
- Jones seemed so like Holmes, that I first thought he was Holmes in disguise – until he took Chase home to meet his wife and we find that he has become an ardent disciple of the great man’s methods.
- Holmes actually had died with Moriarty and that the later cases were those of Jones and Chase written under the Watson name – this, to me, explained why Chase had drawn our attention to the inadequacies of the explanations for Holmes survival provided in The Adventure of the Empty House.
A very enjoyable double dose of Holmes and Horowitz – but only the latter is a must-read.