Monday, 28 November 2011

The Scotsman Abroad | Horowitz Is At Holmes

This interview with Anthony Horowitz did not make me want to read The House of Silk.

The House of Silk, for those of you who don't know, is the new Sherlock Holmes novel. No, really: there's a new Sherlock Holmes novel. Is that such a surprise? Given, for instance, the "lost" volume of Gormenghast that came out earlier in 2011? Never mind the renewed interest in the character and the canon as a result of the BBC TV series, which in my eyes can't come back soon enough, and the new movie franchise, which can, and indeed shall in a few short weeks.

Anyway, for the first time since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's death, the estate who hold the copyright on the great detective has invited a new author to step into Sherlock's shoes: namely Anthony Horowitz, who writes the Alex Rider series, and seems - to put it politely - pretty sure of himself.

The result? Actually a pretty terrific addition to the mythos:

"Call it revisionist literary history, call it po-faced pastiche, call it whatever you damn well please — and no doubt a certain camp will call The House of Silk a cold-blooded cash-grab, and worse — but be assured, whatever your position going in: it is from first to last a worthy Sherlock Holmes story, and there can be no more persuasive testament to its faithfulness, if not necessarily its greatness, than the fact that the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have claimed it as canon... though I would suggest, with the greatest respect, that they do so at their own peril.

"You see, insofar as The House of Silk pays fond homage to the Sherlock Holmes stories we have adored before, over and over, in the same breath Horowitz’s all-too-short sidequel of sorts also serves to shine new light on those things that made the great detective great, not least his ensemble support and the city his stories are set against. We see Holmes guided for once by instinct over intellect; we meet an Inspector Lestrade much improved over the hapless fool of Conan Doyle’s stories; meanwhile the Scots author’s well-to-do London seems in retrospect a positively pleasant place next to the ominous underbelly Horowitz represents so authentically." 

The House of Silk is respectful but not slavishly so, darker than the Sherlock Holmes stories we're used to but not so insidious as to scare anyone off. Ultimately it's just a bit of fun, and I rather doubt it'll ever figure in to the complex chronologies Conan Doyle devotees like to put together to pick apart... but fun is fun. I like fun.

Don't you?

1 comment:

  1. This is NOT a good story for children to read - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would NEVER EVER write about a group of pedophiles. I'm absolutely disgusted. I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan - I've read the original books and short stories numerous times. I will give Anthony Horowitz credit that he does evoke the writing style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but that is as far as it goes in similarity. First, the story itself is not only revolting but really far off base from the adventures we have in the original series - I'm fairly certain Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is rolling over in his grave. I think that the trustees of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle let this go forward because all the copyrights have run out and they want more money coming in.