PUBLICATION DATE: NOVEMBER 1, 2011
he great Detective Sherlock Holmes is dead, but Dr. Watson is not finished chronicling his adventures. Dr. Watson’s most recent work details a series of terrible crimes committed while briefly visiting Holmes. It starts with a visit from an art dealer, Edmund Carstairs. Carstairs’ tale begins with a train robbery in America and the destruction of valuable art work and follows him when he returns to England. The man Carstairs’ believes is partially responsible for the robbery shows up at his home and appears to be on a mission of revenge. However, as Holmes follows the clues to locate Carstairs’ visitor, the case takes a disturbing turn and leads to an even bigger mystery—what is the House of Silk? In a dark tale of torture, murder, and the perversion of justice, The House of Silk is fun, but isn’t exactly what I remember about Sherlock Holmes’ novels.
It’s been 20 years since I’ve read a Sherlock Holmes’ story and while I readily admit I don’t have the greatest memory, I didn’t realize it was quite this bad. Then again, maybe the books I read in high school didn’t portray Holmes as pompous and arrogant. Nor did Dr. Watson come across as a hero worshiping, somewhat fragile, snobbish gentleman. More than likely, though, I simply didn’t read a large enough sample size back then and remember far too little from those stories. As a result I have most likely created a much kinder persona for Mr. Holmes, than Doyle. In either case, this book certainly popped my little Holmes’ bubble, though I don’t doubt Horowitz most likely nailed his character.
When I started The House of Silk, I had every intention of letting my 13 year old son read it when I was finished. He’s read other Holmes’ novels and enjoyed them. This will not be one I will allow him to read at his age. While overall the book is clean, the resolution to one of the storylines just isn’t one I care to leave in my child’s mind. As a result, I do not recommend this particular Holmes’ mystery for younger teens.
For the most part I enjoyed The House of Silk. I found the twists and turns of the investigation interesting and I enjoyed watching the different pieces of the puzzle come together. However, I will say that it wasn’t the most difficult mystery to solve. In fact, one of the two major story lines was very easy to figure out. The second mystery was more difficult, but that is partially due to the lack of information provided and I simply did not anticipate this particular scenario. Additionally, the resolution of this storyline had a more modern twist than I could easily accept.
Overall, I enjoyed The House of Silk, but some of the material left me a bit bummed. Neither Holmes or Watson were as I remembered and honestly I simply didn’t like the ending to the one mystery—not because it was bad—I just wanted something a bit less depressing. In the midst of this somewhat dark novel are some good insight into British culture in the 1890s as well as the dire circumstances of poverty stricken, homeless children. Despite this book not being what I expected, for the most part I was entertained. For those looking for a fun mystery and don’t mind that it’s fairly easy to solve, The House of Silk is a good choice.