Book Review: The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

Posted March 13, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 10 Comments

Book Review: The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The House of Silk Genres: Historical, Mystery
Published by Mulholland Books on November 2011
Pages: 294
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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First in the Sherlock Holmes mystery series and revolving around Dr. Watson’s memories. This particular memory takes place in November 1890.

In 2012, The House of Silk was nominated for the Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel.

My Take

Excellent! Absolutely excellent! Horowitz’s Holmes is just as logical in his analyses and deductions as ever, and I was fascinated with his reasoning, as Horowitz was definitely channeling Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! If you love the Sherlock Holmes stories, do not walk, run to your nearest bookstore *grin*

It’s Holmes’ memorial service that sparks Watson’s reminiscences, and as events roll forth in first-person point-of-view, it becomes obvious why this case could not be published within Holmes’ lifetime due to the shocking and monstrous actions of a cruel few. It’s all about the evils of substance and child abuse with a side on the corruption of those in power. Yep, not much has changed in the past century.

As events continue to come to a head, it’s incredibly obvious that Dickens was right. The English justice system of the time was desperately in need of reform! And, sigh, the journalists back in the day are just as bad as those of today in not reporting all the news.

Do read the preface. Horowitz makes excellent use of it as the reason we’ve never heard of these cases before. Brilliant idea. And he’s setting us up for those future possibilities. Writers, take notes.

The Afterword is well worth reading as well, as it ties things up, unneatly. But it’s that last paragraph, its very last line that makes me want to cry.

The Story

A fine art dealer is being dogged by a strange man in a flat cap. Edmund Carstairs is certain the man is an American criminal who has followed him to England, robbed his house, and threatened his family. Carstairs is desperate for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to help him.

And then it’s murder.

A murder that leads deeper into a case that becomes more and more complex, spanning the Atlantic Ocean, uncovering lies, betrayals, murder, corruption, and poison.

The Characters

Dr. John Watson had been Holmes’ companion for years until he married Mary Morston. Arthur is the cousin who recommended Watson as the Assistant Surgeon to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers.

Sherlock Holmes is a private detective with an uncannily deductive mind. Mycroft is his older, smarter (indolent) brother who works sub rosa in government and belongs to the Diogenes Club. Mrs. Hudson is Holmes’ landlady.

The Baker Street Irregulars are…
…a gang of street arabs employed by Holmes. Wiggins is their leader. Ross is one of the new boys. Sally Dixon is Ross’ sister, and she works at The Bag of Nails, a pub in London run by Ephraim Hardcastle.

Scotland Yard
Inspector George Lestrade steps up. Police Constable Stanley Perkins arrested Holmes at Inspector Harriman‘s orders. Inspector Morton.

Edmund Carstairs and his wife, Catherine, live in Ridgeway Hall in Wimbledon. Eliza is Edmund’s angry sister. Kirby and Margaret Kirby are manservant and housekeeper/cook; Patrick is their nephew who works as the kitchen boy; and, Elsie is the scullery maid. Edmund is one of the partners, along with Tobias Finch, in Carstairs and Finch, art dealers. Cornelius Stillman was a client in Boston who bought some artwork. James Devoy is their agent in America. Bill McParland was a Pinkerton agent.

Chorley Grange is…
…a charity school for boys run by the Reverend Charles Fitzsimmons and his wife, Joanna. The school was founded by Sir Crispin Ogilvy and is currently owned by the Society for the Improvement of London’s Children. Mr. Vosper is the porter. Ross had been a student here along with Harry and Daniel. Robert Weeks is a graduate of Balliol College and one of the teachers.

Holloway Prison
Hawkins is the chief warder. Dr. Percy Trevelyan is the medical officer. Rivers is a slow-witted medical orderly. Jonathan Wood is a prisoner who died. Collins is another prisoner in the prison hospital. Jacks is a forger.

Mr. Henderson is a tidewaiter and an opium addict. Jason Bratby is his associate. Creer’s Place is an opium den run by Isaiah Creer. Dr. Thomas Ackland, governor of the Westminster Hospital, and Lord Horace Blackwater are witnesses. Mr. Edwards is the prosecutor. Watson is assuming that the mysterious mathematician is Professor James Moriarty and Mr. Underwood is his flunkey. Alec Ravenshawe is his new lordship. Dr. Asmodeus Silkin runs Silkin’s House of Wonders, a circus in Whitechapel.

The Flat Cap Gang were…
…a group of thieves in America led by Irish twins: Rourke and Keelan O’Donaghue. Fellow gang members included the Ghost, Frank “Mad Dog” Kelly, and Patrick “Razors” Maclean.

Mrs. Cecil Forrester employed Mary as a governess for her son, Richard. Jack Murray is the orderly who saved Watson. Hastings is the dresser who caused Watson to meet Sherlock through Stamford. Mr. Harrison has taken a room at Mrs. Oldmore’s Private Hotel where the Boots appears to be the night clerk. Mr. Jabez Wilson was part of a previous case involving the red-headed league. Russell Johnson is also a pawnbroker.

The Cover and Title

The cover’s background has vague vertical stripes of very subtle black and deep gray with the title in a scripted and embossed gold spread across the top two-thirds of the cover and the author’s name in an outlined serif font in gold at the bottom. The series information is between the two in white.

The title is where that initial case leads, to The House of Silk.

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10 responses to “Book Review: The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

  1. Stormi

    I have been wanting to read this author but not got around to it, this sounds like a great story! Great review, Kathy!

  2. I’m so curious, I just have to ask – you write in the beginning of your post: I received this book for free from the library aso. Do you usually have to pay to borrow books from a library?

    • I know, it weirds me out too, lol. It’s part of a plugin that conforms to FTC requirements that reviewers reveal who provided the book. And, you can only script one sentence with the checked source that slips in, so it comes out about a FREE book from the library. Who knew, lol!? Just ignore it. ‘Cause, yeah, all books at the library are free. Well, unless you damage the loan too badly.

    • You’re welcome. Someone recommended it to me…can’t remember who! I think it was someone in my writer’s group. And I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!

  3. I’ve had this on my “someday” list since it first came out, and the more reviews I read, the more I want to read it. The child-abuse angle is definitely a stumbling block for me, though, depending on how it’s handled. It’s one of the things that I find very difficult to read about.

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