I was raised on mystery. From the “famous five” to “Miss Marple”, I have loved the sense of adventure and fun that comes from a great detective and an intriguing puzzle to be solved. There’s been many debates over the years as to who the greatest detective is and while I will always hold a special place in my heart for the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, It is to Sherlock Holmes and his powers of observation that I grant this honour to. When I heard that Anthony Horrowitz, author of the Alex Rider series, had been asked to write two new Holmes novels I was nervously excited. Could they match up to the expectations I had? Could they truly bring back to life the stories so loved by millions?
The book I wish to focus on out of the two is the second. “Moriarty“. The first of the books “The house of silk” is well worth a read but didn’t have quite the same impact for me. The real reason I was so fascinated by the second one is that Sherlock Holmes isn’t in it. The book takes place immediately after the famous event at Reichenbach falls. An investigator from Pinkertons starts to work with Scotland Yard to stop a group of American criminals from taking over Moriarty’s empire. The Detective from the yard has studied Sherlock’s methods for years and with his powers of observation and the investigators likable narration the story has a relatable and yet excitingly new feel to it. Old characters like Lestrade and even old villains like John Clay from “the red headed league” make appearances throughout to remind us that even without Sherlock Holmes, we are still in Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous world.
I did have a couple of problems with the book. For one thing it was all a bit too much in places. Horowitz has littered the pages with quotes from the original novels. I can understand wishing to emulate the original author’s style but excessive use of famous lines becomes more of a distraction after a while. It’s true that one of the characters is trying to be as like Sherlock as he can but it got to the point where I was more embarrassed for him than excited. Also some of the wording used by the narrator doesn’t fit his personality. He is supposed to be an American investigator of middling intelligence and yet uses words like Ebullient that most people have never come across before. I find in Literature that if a narrator uses a word that I have to look up they need to be a highly educated person for me to believe that they would use words like that in their day to day.
Language and quotes aside, this is a fantastic read. The plot dances along rapidly and I was swept along with it. My reading time comes in 45 minute slots on the tube and at lunch. I found myself almost missing my stop more than once while reading this and received more than one warning look in my office as I came back late from my break. It’s a highly addictive book but one that I enjoyed thoroughly. As with any Sherlock Holmes story there is a twist. Usually I’m pretty good at working out who the killer is but this book floored me. That’s all I’ll say on the matter as I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Any mystery fans out there should read this Book. It’s a fast paced and intriguing story that will keep you guessing all the way. It’s pretty gory as well. Some of the scenes may be a little violent for the more sensitive reader. Then again, it is a murder mystery so there does have to be the odd murder here and there. It was great fun to be reintroduced to this world. It’s a shame that only two were commissioned as I’d love to read some more. I suppose there are always the originals to read once again but it’s never quite as exciting as opening a book and not knowing where the journey will take