Mysterious Book Report The House Of Silk

The House Of Silk By Anthony Horowitz

Mulholland Books, $27.99, 294 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-19699-4

It’s cold, foggy and snowy here in Colorado Springs.  In fact, it’s sort of like London, England – where this week’s MBR takes place.  It’s a retro Sherlock Holmes mystery, the first one authorized by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in it’s one hundred-and-twenty-five-year history.  That fact alone tells us this one’s so dang close to the original Sherlock Holmes, it could have come from the pen of Dr. Doyle himself.  It’s title is The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, and I can honestly say it’s the best, most authentic, and interesting Holmesian mystery I have ever read.  Literally hundreds and hundreds of books have been written about the iconic fictional detective since Arthur Conan Doyle passed on July 7, 1930.  I call them Sherlock-schlock for the most part, because they fail miserably to measure up to the original.  But this one is different . . . very different.  The House of Silk begins and ends as a manuscript written by Dr. John Watson.  It was “not to be opened and read until one-hundred years” after Watson’s death because “it would tear apart the entire fabric of society . . . something I (Watson) cannot risk.”  The events described being “too monstrous to appear in print . . . in the present time of war.” (1915)


The mystery begins when a new client appears at 221-B Baker Street seeking Sherlock Holmes’s help.  The man is a fine art dealer named Edmund Carstairs, recently returned from a trip to America, and in fear of his life.  He’s being followed by a member of a notorious gang from Boston, sworn to revenge their leader’s death at the hands of a Pinkerton detective hired by Carstairs.  Then Carstairs’ house is robbed, he’s stalked by a sinister man in a flat cap, and his family is threatened.  And so begins the ever-more complicated mystery, with Holmes and Watson following a trail of clues that take them from the mansions of aristocracy to the teeming, vice-ridden streets of Victorian London, as they follow the trail of something called The House of Silk.  The novel twists and turns to a surprising and audacious conclusion.  Like the Holmes of Conan Doyle, the Sherlock depicted in The House of Silk is at times, “secretive, over-confident and thoroughly annoying.”  He’s also a complicated character who smokes incessantly, plays a Stradivarius violin late at night, has an older brother named Mycroft, a criminal-genius arch-enemy named professor James Moriarty, an indefatigably dedicated companion and biographer named Dr. John Watson, as well as a photographic memory, and an occasional predilection to inject himself with liquid cocaine in times of great stress.  In short; one of the most interesting characters in all of fiction.  The House of Silk will make you want to read all the rest of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories while impatiently waiting for Anthony Horowitz to write his next one.


John Dwaine McKenna