Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"The House of Silk" by Anthony Horowitz

Sigh.  I finished reading this almost a week ago, and I realized today that I've been putting off writing my review because... I didn't love it, and several bloggers recommended it to me, so I'm afraid they're going to be disappointed that I didn't love it.  I didn't hate it either, but I had enough issues with it that I can only say I liked it okay.

Partly, of course, this might be because I'm spoiled by Laurie R. King and Nicholas Meyer, whose Sherlock Holmes pastiches ring so true to the original characters.  If I hadn't read and reread their books, I might have liked this better.  Or if I wasn't super picky about dialog.  Because my biggest issue with The House of Silk is that the dialog so often didn't strike me as very Holmesish or Watsonish.  If I also hadn't just read the whole canon last year, I might not have been bugged by that either, I'm not sure.  Their actions were pretty in-character, but I struggled to get a lot of the dialog to fit with them in my head, and that shouldn't happen.

My other issue is the icky nature of the House of Silk itself.  About 3/4 of the way through the book I started to suspect that something sexual would be at the center of the intrigue, but the final reveal disgusted me so thoroughly I won't be re-reading this ever.

Also, Horowitz makes it clear through Watson that Sherlock Holmes has died at some point, and... that's not how I personally play The Game, so I'm not going to exactly hold that against the book, but I disagreed with it, nonetheless.

So.  This was well-plotted and well-written except for my above-mentioned feelings.  It definitely kept me engaged and involved, and spending time with Holmes and Watson is always delightful.

Particularly Good Bits:

Childhood, after all, is the first precious coin that poverty steals from a child (p. 52).

Put simply, next to Holmes, any detective would have found it nigh on impossible to make his mark and even I, who was at his side more often than anyone, sometimes had to remind myself that I was not a complete idiot (p. 65).

His eyes were bright but the bones in his cheek drew dark lines below them and I thought not even the angel of death would appear quite so menacing when finally we met (p. 252).

"Every crime that I have ever investigated has had what you might call a narrative flow -- it is this invisible thread that my friend, Dr. Watson, has always unerringly identified" (p. 285).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  R for violence and sexual content and situations that are not described in detail.

This is my twelfth book read and reviewed for the I Love Library Books Challenge.  And twelve was my goal, so yay me!  I finished a challenge!


  1. Ah, I hate when I'm not fond of a book that came highly recommended! Honestly, I tend not to like these spinoff-type books, even though I like other kinds of adaptations. The authors always seem to be either trying too hard (painfully trying to mimic the original author's style and language), or not trying hard enough (going so far away from the original characters and story that they lose me).

    1. Some "further adventures" type books can be completely awesome, and some... aren't. Never know until you try them, really. There are enough that I like, for various series, that I keep trying others, but I have to say I do get disappointed by a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories and Jane Austen stories. But sometimes I find an author that matches my own view of the characters and then -- bliss!!!!

  2. I heard that Horowitz was the only author officially approved by the Doyle estate to write Sherlock Holmes books, which I thought was interesting! That wasn't researched information, though, so it could be completely untrue. I started this book last year for my book club and have yet to finish it. I appreciate your review; I'll let you know if I ever finish it!

    1. The book cover does have this little seal on it that says something about "authorized by the Doyle estate." There was just a big court case with the Doyle estate over whether or not the characters of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson (and Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson, etc) were in the public domain or not. Some of the stories are still under copyright, and the Doyle estate insisted that meant the characters were too. They lost -- you can read all about it here.

      I look forward to your review when you finish it! Who knows, you might have a totally different reaction.

  3. How interesting! I thought it was more of a, "We like this author's interpretation of Holmes better than the others," approval, rather than paid licensing fees. Thank you for the link! It's nice to have more information on the subject.


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