The House of Silk

The House of Silk Cover

Anthony Horowitz

THE GAME'S AFOOT...It is November 1890 and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent weeks. Sherlock Holmes is back with all the nuance, pace and powers of deduction that make him the world's greatest and most celebrated detective.

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Reading Group Questions

Author interview with Richard and Judy

Some Thoughts on Sherlock Holmes by Anthony Horowitz

The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans by Arthur Conan-Doyle – Anthony Horowitz’s favourite short story from the original Holmes canon.

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RICHARD

Sherlock Holmes has recently returned to both the small and large screens, with Benedict Cumberbatch’s updated TV series and Robert Downey Jnr’s period movie, so this homage from Anthony Horowitz is timely.

The two key questions are: how faithful is it to Conan Doyle’s original, and is the story any good?

As a devoted Holmes fan – I’d read every single one of Conan Doyle’s stories by the time I was fifteen, and I re-read them to this day – I’d say The House of Silk is virtually indistinguishable from the genuine article. Horowitz’s tone, style, and plotting could be that of Conan Doyle himself. Horowitz says in his acknowledgements that the Sherlock Holmes Society have been supportive of his efforts ‘so far’. I would imagine that after reading his efforts, the chairman of the S.H.S. will have done back-handsprings of delight down the stairs. The House of Silk is a minor masterpiece.

As to the story... well, if Conan Doyle could come back from the grave (something that as a firm believer in spiritualism and the power of mediums, he often threatened to do) he would certainly give Horowitz a warm, if spectral, handshake.

It’s all here – Dr Watson’s deep admiration and affection for his friend; Holmes’s dry teasing of his partner-in-crime; the great detective’s seemingly supernatural powers of deduction which always resolve themselves into commonplace observations.

Chapter One opens with Holmes deducing Watson’s private, unspoken thoughts on a domestic matter and the good doctor is pleasingly thunderstruck by having his mind read – ‘But for Heaven’s sake, Holmes! You have taken the very thoughts from my head!’

And we’re off.

JUDY

I’ve never read a Sherlock Holmes story. To be honest, they didn’t hold any particular appeal for me. Obviously I’ve seen the various films and TV versions, and mostly enjoyed them, but the books themselves? No thanks.

Anthony Horowitz has changed all that. I can’t wait to get stuck in to the originals – if they’re as good as The House of Silk, I’ve got a massive treat coming.

This book evokes a powerful sense of late-Victorian London. It is winter, 1890; handsome cabs clatter along the frosty, cobbled streets, gas lamps flare in the gloom, and telegram boys run to and fro with urgent messages.

At 221b Baker Street Holmes and Watson are taking tea by a roaring fire when Mrs Hudson, the faithful housekeeper, shows a clearly agitated gentleman in. He has a story to tell. He is being stalked by a menacing, scar-faced man who stares malevolently at him. It has been going on for weeks and their visitor is at the end of his tether. He begs Holmes for help.

‘The game’s afoot, Watson!’ And indeed it is. Horowitz spins an ever-more dramatic and dangerous story. What begins as a puzzle swiftly becomes a mystery with deeply sinister overtones. As Holmes and Watson become immersed in their investigations, they begin to hear the whispered words ‘the House of Silk’... what does the phrase mean? What links London’s foggy streets with the violent underworld that seethes in the American city of Boston?

This is quite simply one of the best detective mysteries I have read for a long time. Congratulations, Mr Horowitz. Can we have another one please?

Reviews & Comments

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  • Superb. Excellent story. Read it in three days and was totally engrossed. Nice easy read and really pulled you in. Beautifully written. Will try the real Sherlock Holmes now to see if they are as good.

    Kate

  • I have read all the shirlock holmes books many times over the years, and i was a little troubled about someone trying to copy, what is a classic. But my congratulations for a excellent read and truly in the footprints of the master. i am sure holmes is in safe hands and i look forward to the next.

    d cutler

  • I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Lots of twists to the very last page. Enjoyed this immensely.

    Jadine

  • Very quickly one is drawn into Victorian London.... red herrings are thrown everywhere so the finale is a surprise. The manner of writing is as one would expect from Conan Doyle. Very clever.

    Maureen

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