Here’s a change of pace from my current glut of sci-fi reading, though longtime readers know by now that I’m a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes.
For me to read a Holmes pastiche, something needs to really stick out to me.* Horowitz’s previous pastiche, “House of Silk”, was of little interest to me because it didn’t really seem like it was doing anything interesting. It was just another Holmes story, and as good as Horowitz is the Holmes stories are Conan Doyle’s realm.
No, for me to read a Holmes pastiche it needs to be something really, genuinely unique. Neil Gaiman’s Hugo award winning short story “A Study in Emerald” is one such example, and to those who haven’t read it I recommend it highly.
“Moriarty” is another such example, the conceit being that it takes place between “The Final Problem” and “The Empty House” and stars Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase and our Holmes stand-in, Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones. With the death of Moriarty there is an opening for chief criminal mastermind of the London underworld, and a mysterious American figure named Clarence Devereux seems to be the man primed to take his place. I love the premise, and Horowitz is an excellent writer (which I already knew thanks to his badass Alex Rider series). The story does not feel like a pale imitation of a Holmes story or a blatant copy of Conan Doyle’s work, but instead reads simply as if Horowitz is following new characters in Conan Doyle’s universe, which is exactly how it should be.
The mystery itself is clever and very entertaining. Conan Doyle had a flair for dramatic moments, and even though I’m not finished with the book yet the story has already had one major reveal presented in very Doyle-esque fashion, with much drama and aplomb. It’s a dark book, but a fun one
Fans of mystery novels would serve themselves well to pick up a copy. Horowitz has an excellent reputation and it is not undeserved.
*Yes, watching Holmes pastiches is a completely different matter, and no, I’m not sure why.