Horowitz writes a new Sherlock Holmes novel, using the authentic voice of Doctor John Watson.
And it is pretty authentic. He really gets the feel of Watson and the relationship between the narrator and his hero. Watson is perhaps a little too stupid (Holmes sometimes mocks him) and the social conscience seems a little modern (Conan Doyle was no Dickens) but foggy London is still there. Horowitz succumbs a little to the temptation to put in as much from the canon as possible: the Baker Street Irregulars and Mycroft and Moriarty and other characters from previous stories as well as a horde of red-headed men. And all the set pieces are included: the violin and the drug addiction and Holmes being able to tell what Watson is thinking and being able to correctly deduce others' occupation and history (although I loved the bit where he got the teacher wrong).
My basic problem with this book is that I didn't really like Sherlock Holmes in the first place. The stories are too far-fetched. Holmes is impossible. The villains are unreal. But worst of all, the author doesn't play fair.
The fundamental rule of detective fiction (which of course post-dates Conan Doyle) is that the reader must have the chance of guessing whodunnit before the revelation. When Holmes does his clever clever stuff he usually gives the observations after making the deductions. And often the solution is so extreme and improbable that it leaves me unmoved.
So Horowitz has to modernise the story to the extent that he offers the reader the chance to play the game. And he succeeds in doing this. The clues are there. Some are very easy, others well-hidden. I guessed the identities of two of the three criminals (although Horowitz follows Doyle in making some of his villains so blatantly villainous that there is little room for error).
A worthwhile update on a classic. January 2013; 399 pages
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57