To take a character created by another author and spin a new tale around him is difficult. It’s really difficult if the character is absolutely beloved and world famous. When Anthony Horowitz took Sherlock Holmes and spun A House of Silk around him, I had expected that book to be a flop. I was proved wrong there. When his new novel came out with the words “Sherlock Holmes is dead and darkness falls”, the expectation just became higher.
The play on the word “falls” didn’t slip by me, and I knew the novel would begin from the Reichenbach Falls again. But Moriarty took me by surprise. A book without Holmes in it given the stamp of approval by the Conan Doyle Estate? How could it be?
Moriarty is not a run-of-the-mill crime thriller. It follows the aftermath of the events at the Reichenbach Falls, and takes the plot forward from there. Athelney Jones, well known to Sherlock Holmes fans as the Scotland Yard detective, is sent by the British Police to investigate the events. He meets Frederick Chase, a Pinkerton agent, who has reached Switzerland following his own clues. Athelney Jones, having verified that Moriarty is dead, is convinced by Chase that a far more fiendish criminal mastermind, Devereux, has taken the place of the professor. And the duo, like a new Holmes and Watson, must find a way to stop Devereux, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace. Can they do it?
Having completed the read, the first word that comes to mind is “Wow”. How beautifully this tale of crime and deception is spun. Starting from the first chapter, where Chase expresses his doubts about the events at Reichenbach Falls, to the last chapter where the story is turned on its head, the flow is brilliant and it kept me hooked. The movement from chapter to chapter is so seamlessly taken care of, it’s hard to fault. It can’t be faulted. The characters, most of them are new, are done due justice. Athelney Jones, I wondered why this detective was chosen, has his quirks and his confidence like in The Sign of the Four. There is the science of deduction, paramount to any Holmes novel. The description of the crime scenes are vivid, and the emotions of the detectives as well. The novel kept me guessing till the end, which truly was unexpected (for the most part).
Any fan of the legendary consulting detective will try to look at the clues and play along as they read. Though I honestly can say that I didn’t see the end coming as it did, I knew there was something amiss, and I told to myself, “This will happen soon” as I read along. And it did. Not the way I expected it to, but it did. That’s the only thing that keeps me from rating it fully; because other than that, I found it brilliant. Into my favorites shelf this goes, just like The House of Silk. I can’t wait to see what Horowitz comes up with next!
Series: Sherlock Holmes #2
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publisher: Orion Books / Hachette India
Price: INR 599
(22nd November 2014)