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The House of Silk Audiobook

The House of Silk

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Publisher's Summary

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. Intrigued by the man's tale, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston. As the pair delve deeper into the case, they stumble across a whispered phrase 'the House of Silk': a mysterious entity and foe more deadly than any Holmes has encountered, and a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society itself. With devilish plotting and excellent characterisation, bestselling author Anthony Horowitz delivers a first-rate Sherlock Holmes mystery for a modern readership whilst remaining utterly true to the spirit of the original Conan Doyle books. Sherlock Holmes is back with all the nuance, pace and powers of deduction that make him the world's greatest and most celebrated detective.

©2011 Anthony Horowitz (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group Ltd

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  •  
    Jefferson 03-03-17
    Jefferson 03-03-17 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

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    "Dr. Watson Channels His Inner Dickens"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    evilgenius 05-16-15
    evilgenius 05-16-15 Member Since 2016
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    "The reviews are right: This is Holmes Heaven!"

    Hats off to an excellent narrator, the story itself is wonderfully constructed, I would completely have believed that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself had penned this one. Fantastic!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Fisher 02-22-15
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    "Thoroughly enjoyable in all respects."

    Jacobi's reading and the twists and turns of Horowitz's plot make an entertaining and absorbing audiobook in true Holmes style.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bee 10-18-13
    Bee 10-18-13

    Bee

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Modern voice for a well-loved charactwr"
    What did you love best about The House of Silk?

    Compelling story on an important global issue. Horowitz uses a modern voice with all the twist and turns of a suspenseful "on the edge of your seat" thriller.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Derek Jacobi is an excellent narrator who brings to life Sherlock Holmes and Watson.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The start of the story as it includes Watson reminiscing on Holmes and it reveals various interesting tidbits which fills in the gap on what happened to both of those main characters as they got on with the years. The chase scene towards the climax was action-filled & hilarious.


    Any additional comments?

    Well worth the time and credit spent listening to this wonderful story & talented narration by Derek Jacobi. Anthony Horowitz does justice to Arthur Conan Doyle's characters whilst tackling an important global issue.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul McMahon Fremantle, Australia 09-05-13
    Paul McMahon Fremantle, Australia 09-05-13 Listener Since 2007

    mcmap

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    "Taking up the case-load of Holmes and Watson."

    Quite a good, respectful, taking up of the case-load of Holmes and Watson.

    Anthony Horowitz has a long association with storytelling being creator of Foyle’s War and worked on Midsomer Murders. His dialogue for TV isn’t the usual stuff written only to fill in the time slot requirements.

    The style is a nice homage to Conan Doyle; good, clue-rich descriptions sprinkled with completely unhelpful, but interesting background as illustrated by Watson’s introduction to the story.

    As Roxalanne, Jodie and Madeleine, and others, have said before me:

    Roxalanne: “This tale is rather darker in places than Holmes tales …”
    Jodie: “It was very true to Conan Doyle's style … to keep you listening.”
    Madeleine: “"Very Much an Homage" …”

    The area I had some trouble with was the narration. Although it is nice to hear an English voice doing the characters.

    Derek Jacobi reads well, but maybe overuses the emphatic voice when reading dialogue; particularly between Holmes and Watson, which moves Holmes a little too far from the classic, mater of fact delivery. I would have liked to hear a bit of the sotto voice for dramatic effect and variation.

    I didn’t feel an excited rush; more sitting around a fire listing to a friend telling a tale; although sometimes it could be more leisurely with more of a gap after a full stop (period). This means when action is to be underlined by rapid reading, it sounds too much like the rest of the narration.

    It may be a little difficult for ear-phone listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bergljot Mosfellsbaer, Iceland 12-16-11
    Bergljot Mosfellsbaer, Iceland 12-16-11 Member Since 2017
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    "Very true to the originals"

    “The house of silk” is very true to the original stories of Sherlock Holmes but makes the characters, especially Holmes, more human. The story is classical, quite melodramatic and keeps you listening. The reading by Derek Jacobi (as Watson) is perfect.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Beccameriel
    London, United Kingdom
    8/28/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enjoyable Holmes tribute"

    This not written as a pastiche of ACD's style as it has a much more modern sensibility whilst featuring all the devices one would expect of a traditional Holmes tale. This story covers subjects that simply wouldn't have been mentioned at the time so is rather more gritty.

    Derek Jacobi was excellent as you would expect but who knew he couldn't do a Scots accent for toffee?

    Overall an enjoyable tale of the Victorian underworld.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Miss
    Saffron Walden, United Kingdom
    11/17/15
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    "Fabulous!"

    I understand that Anthony Horowitz was approached by the Conan Doyle estate to write an official follow-on book. I don't think a better author could have been selected for the project. He captures the pace and style perfectly, and writes in the 19th century way which is so fitting.

    Derek Jacobi narrated all the other Holmes books I have, so this was the icing on the cake which made it 'real'. The story is quite dark, and without wanting to spoil the dénouement, very relevant to certain modern day crimes which have been revealed in public life. Although this was published before all that broke in the news - was Mr Horowitz declaring his abhorrence for something he knew was widespread?

    Thoroughly enjoyable, didn't want it to end, yet desperate to get to the end to find out what was happening! Perfect.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • M. Price
    UK
    9/14/15
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    "Sherlock Holmes rides again!"

    Anthony Horowitz picks up the pen of the master and adds anither classic to the Sherlock Holmes cannon. The story is as true to the original as if written by Conan Doyle himself, the voice of John Watson, stumbling in the wake of his brilliant friend, rings out more than a hundre6 years after he commenced regaling the nation with Holmes's caseload . Horowitz has surpassed himself! Sir Derek Jacobi does a superlative job at lifting the novel off the printed page and breathing life into the characters. A first class production in every respect. Extremely highly recommended to fans of the original stories and those who have never ventured to read the classic tales.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Kaggy
    United Kingdom
    7/5/15
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    "Absolute luxury and a real brain teaser"

    Sherlock Holmes is brought back to life by a fantastic writer and read by one of our finest actors. What possibly is there not to like about this? This is a dark story that heads off in many directions and I did wonder how these two seemingly independent cases could possibly link up. All is finally revealed when everything is pulled together into a very satisfactory and highly credible conclusion.

    When you listen to this, try not to be distracted as the clues come thick and fast and it is tremendous fun trying to solve the mystery yourself. If you are looking for a few hours of unadulterated pleasure, I cannot recommend this more highly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Chloe
    Coventry UK
    8/10/13
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    "Engaging Sherlock tale with a disturbing focus"
    Would you listen to The House of Silk again? Why?

    I would listen again - the story has twists and turns and visits many of the familiar characters. I suspected what the House of Silk would be fairly early on though still found it shocking, possibly because the idea of Conan Doyle writing such a tale was unthinkable.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Sherlock Holmes is one of the most loved characters in fiction for a reason - the deeply flawed genius is so intriguing to read about and I felt that Horowitz managed to write him convincingly


    Which character – as performed by Derek Jacobi – was your favourite?

    Derek Jacobi's narration was excellent throughout - one of the better audiobook performances i have listened to. He really gave the characters different voices, from the street kids to the art dealers, I couldn't really choose a favourite, though his male characters were probably better than his females.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was fully expecting the ending by the time it arrived - I think we were intended to, the shock coming from the incongruity of Holmes investigating such a crime instead. However, even though I expected it, it didnt make it any less disturbing.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amelia
    United Kingdom
    7/14/13
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    "Thought it was an original Conan-Doyle"

    I have never read a Sherlock Holmes book before but have seen the TV series and really loved it. I found this book so interesting with all the characters well developed and interesting. I couldn't be parted from it for long and as I listen to audiobooks in the car I often stayed put longer than I should. I found the narration by Derek Jacobi to add greatly to the story and the many twists and turns especially the ending were totally unexpected to me. I wish there was another instalment I could read. Highly recommend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • N
    Gosport, United Kingdom
    6/30/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good Listen"

    I enjoyed this book very much. Derek Jacobi has a great voice. Anthony Horowitz is a great writer.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Joanna
    12/24/12
    Overall
    "Everything he touches turns to gold"

    Horowitz is an amazing writer, I have listened to all his books for teenagers several times with my children (narrated by Paul Panting and Kelly Shale) they are always inventive, sometimes creepy and always entertaining. They never talk down to their audience. This was the first for adults and it was just as good. I don't know how he manages to find plot after plot so skilfully. It was a great listen and tackles a taboo subject with brio.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Andy
    Leatherhead, United Kingdom
    2/17/12
    Overall
    "Horowitz or Conan Doyle?"

    Having experienced many years of Sherlock Holmes through book, TV, Film and Theatre, I believe one becomes entrenched in the style and ways of the author, no matter how their characters my be portrayed through a range of media.
    So, for someone and talented as Anthony Horowitz to take the mantle and continue the Sherlock Holmes legacy is a great challenge and some would say, quite a risk.
    After listening to the whole book, I can only say that he does his predecessor proud in how he has brought together quite a masterpiece.
    A little lengthy and for the first hour, perhaps not sure where the plot was going, but as it progressed, so did its quality and content raise the bar.
    Full marks Mr Horowitz, you have kept our Victorian detective truly alive. Finally, much of this audio success must go to the narrator, who when listening, makes one feel you are sitting there in 221b Baker Street alongside the characters in the Drawing Room. Thank you too, Mr Jacobi !

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Simon. Kindall
    Rushden, England
    5/20/17
    Overall
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    Story
    "I'm sure Doyle would have happy"

    This is the first time I have read/listened to a non Doyle Sherlock Homes book and what a fantastic book this was a lot of intrigue and plots within plots.
    The narration is brilliant being Derek Jacobi BUT it's a shame he doesn't know the difference between a Southern and Northern Irish accent which are totally different.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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