©2011 Anthony Horowitz (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group Ltd
What a pleasure to have a new Sherlock Holmes adventure to enjoy, written in the true Conan Doyle style and as complicated and enthralling as usual.
This tale is rather darker in places than Holmes tales with which we are familiar. Nowadays some subjects can be addressed which Conan Doyle, in his time, could not mention although he would not have been unaware. This is perfectly acceptable and it is only fitting that the genre can be updated in this way, but it may seem strange to modern readers who do not realise the innocent ignorance of so many in the Victorian era.
It is good to have such a distinguished narrator as Derek Jacobi, a pleasure to hear and who even managed to make Holmes a fraction more likeable. At least Holmes seemed to be a little kinder to Watson, a change long overdue.
I truly did wonder if anyone could quite match Conan Doyle when writing a new Sherlock Holmes - so many have tried and failed, however this was fantastic. It was very true to Conan Doyle's style and character but still different enough for Horowitz to be true to himself as a writer. It was a great story with enough twists and turns (as one would expect from Sherlock Holmens) to keep you listening.
Derek Jacobi was an excellent choice as narrator, he has the perfect voice and accent for this story, injecting just enough difference for each character to keep it interesting without being overly theatrical.
Well done Horowitz, you've done an excellent job, I'm sure Conan Doyle would be proud and thrilled with how you have taken his character and 'run with it'. I look forward to many many more Sherlock Holmes stories from you.
I highly recommend this book.
If you are a fan of the Sherlock Holmes's stories, you are going to like this very much. Horowitz does an excellent job of echoing the Conan Doyle voice. In Sherlockian tradition, the narration is through the POV of Watson and all the familiar recurring characters put in an appearance.
The plot is also very much in the tradition. It starts with a smaller story and the tentacles of the mystery spread out to create a far wider tale with grave implications for welfare of the nation.
As an homage it is faultless. The only reason I didn't give the story 5 stars is because I would very much like to see a 21st century take on Sherlock. I'm not sure how much we need yet another Conan Doyle copy. I'm hoping that some day someone will do what, for instance, Frank Miller did with Batman. Take the characters in the original and look at them from a different angle, offering another perspective or more depth.
This definitely isn't one of those approaches. It honors the original slavishly. And Jacobi's narration is perfect. Just perfect.
When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
An aged Dr. Watson remembers a story of his friend, Sherlock Holmes, and shares it in his old age with the world. Anthony Horowitz were able to transport us back to Sherlock Holmes' London to escourt him and Dr. Watson on one of his most difficult adventures to date. While paying homage to the Athur Conan Doyle style of writing and using all the elements of a good Sherlock Holmes story, Horowitz also gives the reader a glimpse of his own take on this well-known detective. I thoroughly enjoyed this dubble twisted story. Derek Jacobi brings "The House of Silk" to life with his "Sherlockish" voice. This is an exellent book that will even satisfy the die-hard Arthur Conan Doyle supporters. In a certain way I do find this novel a bit more mature than some of Arthur Conan Doyle's own novels. A must read... listen!
Likes resting his eyes...
Horowitz's novel is worthy of the name, presenting an insightful reworking of Conan Doyle's privileged acts onto a broader stage. Holmes' cold deduction is turned inwards and Watson chronicles are darkened with the consequences. The sequence and pacing lead and capture, enlivened all the more by Jacobi's prowess. A great pleasure - thank you!
A fantastic performance by Derek Jacobi reading this. It is a pure pleasure to listen to it.
I was quite a time since last I read a Sherlock Holmes, but this has the same atmosphere as I remember from them.
Sherlock Holmes comes alive again à la Arthur Conan Doyle. Exciting story with an absolutely excellent narrator who makes all the characters seem so authentic. Easy on the ear with an English as
The story is told from Dr Watson's point of view and it is this character who is the thread throughout the story. I loved his comments and observations on Holmes' personality.
Highly recommended listening - I will certainly look out for more books by this narrator.
yes very well
yes a death of a character
the content is not suitable for the young
Totally engrossing plots
The denouement in the house.
Not for the squeamish !
Very well written and superbly read.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
The conceit of Anthony Horowitz' The House of Silk (2011) is that twenty-five years after Dr. John Watson helped Sherlock Holmes solve two inter-tangled cases, Watson is writing his account of the adventure because it was too shocking to publish in 1890, involving "A conspiracy that . . . encompassed murder, torture, kidnapping, and the perversion of justice." Now because Holmes has recently died and Watson is missing him (longing to join him), he's decided to write about the adventure, despite it still being so sensational and sensitive that he'll have the manuscript secreted away until 100 years have passed--so it feels like a recently discovered Holmes work by "Watson."
The story begins with Holmes astounding Watson with his powers of ratiocination, observation, and deduction by saying without any preamble: "Influenza is unpleasant. . . but you are right in thinking that, with your wife's help, the child will recover soon." No sooner has Holmes explained the "elementary" way in which he "knew" what's been going on in Watson's life than a long-haired Wimbledon art dealer named Edmund Carstairs pays a call. He tells a dramatic story set in America and involving a Boston Brahmin, four landscapes by John Constable, an anachronistic train robbery, and a shoot out between a gang of Irish immigrant hoodlums and a posse of Pinkerton's agents. Carstairs is convinced that one of the surviving Irish gangsters has tracked him down for revenge. After the gangster apparently robs Carstairs' home and good old persevering but not wholly intelligent Inspector Lestrade gets involved, Holmes summons the Baker Street Irregulars and--"The game's afoot!"
Horowitz clearly enjoys channeling Conan Doyle (and Watson) as he moves the story forward, introducing the mysterious and ominous House of Silk, riffing on familiar Holmes-isms (e.g., "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"), and having Watson allude to former "real" cases (e.g., The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Greek Interpreter, The Red-Haired League, etc.) and indulge in suspenseful foreshadowing (e.g., "He had entered a veritable miasma of evil, and harm, in the worst possible way, was to come to us all too soon").
One of the most enjoyable parts of the novel is the deep and abiding friendship between Holmes and Watson. Watson reveals how much Holmes liked him ("Dear old Watson. How good it is to have you at my side") and how much he liked Holmes ("I have to say that I took immense satisfaction in these moments of quiet sociability and felt myself to be one of the luckiest men in London to have shared in the conversation which I have just described and to be walking in such a leisurely manner at the side of so great a personage as Sherlock Holmes"). He expresses their relationship as affectionate and complementary: "Now that I come to think of it, I was as assiduous in my duties as his biographer as he was in the pursuit of his various investigations. Perhaps that was why the two of us got on so well."
Horowitz writes vivid, witty descriptions, like "Lestrade had the sunken eyes and the general demenour of a rat who has been obliged to dress up for lunch at the Savoy," and "What a place of broken promises and lost hopes the pawn broker proved to be. Every class, every profession, every walk of life was represented in its grubby windows, the detritus of so many lives pinned like butterflies behind the glass."
He also somewhat updates Conan Doyle. A minor example concerns Mrs. Hudson, in a passage that serves as a mild rebuke of Conan Doyle for never having done much with her, so that Watson confesses that he doesn't know how she came to run her house, what happened to her husband, and so on: "I wish I had conversed with her a little more often and taken her for granted a little less." The most important example is the exploitation of street kids, from which not even Holmes is innocent, and gives the novel thematic depth. Watson has a Dickensian social conscience. He is concerned by and ashamed of the plight of London street children ("Childhood is the first precious coin that poverty steals from a child"), feels uncomfortable amid the "wealth and privilege" of a British Lord's baronial hall, and notes that most of the cases solved by Holmes concerned the well-to-do.
There are some less impressive parts of the novel that may be flaws for some readers.
**My kvetches contain enigmatic, mild spoilers, so if you haven't read the book, you should maybe skip the next paragraph.**
First, I doubt Moriarty is necessary to this book, and suspect Horowitz of introducing him only to prepare the way a sequel. Second, there is an excrescent and absurd carriage chase scene in the climax that is unworthy of Conan Doyle. Third, I was able to guess the identity of Keelan O'Donaghue too early.
Derek Jacobi is a great actor and a stellar reader of audiobooks. Here he is just right. Without changing his voice drastically for male or female or young or old people (though he dons cockney, Irish, or American accents for a few characters), he reads everything with spot on emotion, understanding, pace, and emphasis, and engagingly brings the book to life.
Feeling that the original Holmes stories are mostly fine and sufficient, I have only read a few of the many pastiche Holmes novels, but I did find The House of Silk to most consistently channel Watson's voice and Conan Doyle's vision. Lyndsay Faye's Dust and Shadow (2009), for instance, which intriguingly pits Holmes and Watson against Jack the Ripper, loses hold of Watson's voice ("me and Holmes") and Holmes' persona (he breaks a man's nose in a fit of pique) and lets me figure out the occupation of the killer before Watson and Holmes do. Horowitz' novel really seems to add to the Conan Doyle canon. Fans of Sherlock Holmes and of Sherlock Holmes pastiches would probably like The House of Silk a lot.
"I think Conan Doyle would approve"
I was wary of buying this book as I feared that the author couldn't match Conan Doyle's inventiveness of plot. However, I was wrong: it's an excellent, intricate and satisfyingly complicated story that kept me gripped and eager to find out what happened next. Those of you who have read/listened to Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes books will take pleasure in the allusions to characters from the original series that are grafted into this homage to a master of detective fiction. The pleasure of this audio version is greatly enhanced by Derek Jacobi's lively narration and ability to mimic many different accents.
"Well read but..."
I have loved all the Sherlock Holmes stories since I was a child and so was interested to see what this author had made of it. The story consists of three threads which start promisingly but soon become rather sensationalist. It reminded me a lot of how ITV have treated recent Poirot and Marple televisations - by adding in sex. You can see the revelations coming a mile off and all I could think as I listened was "Really? You're going 'there' with this?". If the author had created a new character and written this story it would have been fine. Instead we get a story which will make a lovely Hollywood film giving Robert Downey Junior a chance to show his acting repertoire as Holmes cycles through the full range of emotions.
Having said that - once you give up the idea that this is supposed to be "remaining utterly true to the spirit of the original Conan Doyle books" as the blurb describes it, this is actually an entertaining story and Derek Jacobi reads it very well. But if you are looking for something more in keeping with the original I would look at Donald Thomas. His audiobooks are also well read and although he does get tied up in descriptions sometimes, the stories are interesting without being attention seeking.
"In the Holmes Tradition"
I have throughly enjoyed lustening to this book. Dubious at first as books in the "spirit of " are usually a second class rehash I have been pleasantly surprised. The characters, sets & plot are well rooted in the Sherlock Holmes tradition. Unfortunately you do see the authors 21st century sensibilities coming out and there is the too obvious references to sex.
Sir Derek Jacobi is a delight to listen to, bringing an excitement to the story. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction
"a ripping yarn"
Very entertaining and beguiling, Watson's tone convincingly adopted and the relationship between him and Holmes one of the most enjoyable parts of the book. There are two mysteries, one leading into the other: one is nicely erudite and typical, the other quite gothic and brilliantly unnerving - you almost believe it probably did happen (without giving too much away). Sometimes Watson is infuriatingly dim and Holmes so brilliant, no wonder he has to keep going off to prison/hiding etc otherwise the mystery would be solved in ten pages - then again, Watson is incredibly courageous and I love his pondorous, reassuringly correct and deliberate style. Some of the plot developments were heavy handed, and there were a couple of moments that stetched credibility - perhaps in this case the author was simply remaining true to the original - but don't let those glitches put you off, as it is on the whole extremely satisfying, quite haunting and unusually emotional.
I thoroughly enjoyed this - probably the best fiction audiobook I've listened to for a number of years. Although I'm not a Holmes expert, the book seemed authentic enough to me and the tale was gripping, and occasionally shocking. It's just a pity he's not writing another instalment. Excellent.
"An edge of your seat book.... right to the end!"
This book is the best that I have read/listened to in a very long time. I was gripped to the very end and I still never managed to guess the twists! Completely rate this book..... everyone should listen to it.
"If you like Sherlock you'll like this"
I haven't read many of the original books but I have seen plenty of the films and TV shows so this book felt like an authentic realisation of a Sherlock story. The story has a hint of modern sensibilities but I enjoyed it and the final revelations. It does help that I'm never any good at guessing whodunit.
I really enjoyed this listen, the story was beautifully, word-perfectly read by Mr Jacobi - not just read, enacted. The book is also beautifully, word-perfectly written by Mr Horowitz, but despite the rich atmosphere and historic detail, I did feel the author's 21st century sensibilities seeping through and was disappointed with the overall premise of the story and the way some of the clues were clumsily flagged up too early. Despite that, I would whole-heartedly recommend this.
"A Good Listen"
An inventive story that is mostly faithful to the original style of A C D.I would agree that sometimes a 21st century perspective slips in but this doesn't seriously detract from a rattling paced narrative and ingenious plotting. I did guess one puzzle straight away but not the final couple of plot twists.
Derek Jacobi's masterly narration does the story credit but who knew he can't do a Scottish accent?!
"Better than Conan Doyle himself? Probably."
This is one of the best Sherlock Homes stories I've heard ..... and it's written by a different author than the original. It maintains that which we love most about Holmes, his almost uncanny instinct for the detection, his insights and understanding of psychology, whilst achieving a pace and drama that is more in keeping with modern thrillers. And yet the 'voice' is perfect. One never doubts that this is Dr Watson retelling the tale in the London of the late nineteenth century. Brilliantly done.
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