A few months ago I posted this article on my views about fan-fiction. In that post I mentioned the existence of sequels ‘authorised’ by the estate of deceased authors, but admitted I’d never read one. The House of Silk is my first. Written by Anthony Horowitz, The House of Silk is a Sherlock Holmes novel authorised by the Conan Doyle Estate.
I was given this book a year or so ago by someone who knew that I was a fan both of Sherlock Holmes and several of the TV series’ written by Horowitz, including Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s War and Poirot. This is the first time I have experienced any of his prose. I first attempted to read it soon after I received it, but for various reasons I managed only a few pages before it went back onto my TBR pile. At the time I probably would have told you that this was due to the fact that I found the different writing style slightly jarring – I was very aware that it was not by Conan Doyle. In truth I probably just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be reading it. This week I decided I was ready to try it again, and found myself breezing through it very quickly.
A year after the death of Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson is living out his own final days in a nursing home. He takes up his pen one last time to write a story so shocking that he plans to leave it with his lawyers, with instructions not to publish it for 100 years. He recalls the day Holmes was approached by art dealer Edmund Carstairs to investigate a sinister man who has been seen watching his house. The events which followed lead Holmes and Watson into some of the darkest waters they’ve ever encountered, in pursuit of the mysterious ‘House of Silk’.
I said I read The House of Silk very quickly, and for the most part I enjoyed it, but there were a few flaws which disappointed. For example, I found that the frequent references to past cases were perhaps too frequent, and did not so much demonstrate Watson’s nostalgia for the old days as Horowitz’s familiarity with the Holmes canon.
While I won’t divulge the ending, I must confess that although the loose ends were all tied up, I was left slightly unsatisfied. This is a shame, as most of the narrative is a thrilling read and I don’t like to think that a few pages towards the end could spoil my opinion of the novel as a whole. With that said I would recommend The House of Silk to Holmes fans with a caution that while it is a very enjoyable read, it doesn’t quite live up to the genius of the original Conan Doyle stories, and has not improved my opinion of ‘authorised sequels’.