Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Bravo, Mr Horowitz! Encore! Encore!!

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

It was as if the world were ending here in a perpetual apocalypse of thundering water and spray rising like steam, the birds frightened away and the sun blocked out. The walls that enclosed this raging deluge were jagged and harsh and old as Rip van Winkle.

moriartyIt is the year 1891, just after Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty have fought their final battle at Reichenbach Falls. Our narrator is Frederick Chase, a Pinkerton man, in Europe on the trail of a criminal mastermind, one Clarence Devereux, who he believes is responsible for killing one of his colleagues. Devereux has decided to extend his operations beyond his native America and has come to London, and Chase believes he has been in contact with Professor Moriarty, so on hearing of Moriarty’s death he has rushed to Switzerland to discover whether he can find any clue to Devereux’s whereabouts. Here he meets Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, also over to investigate the happenings at the Reichenbach Falls and they quickly form an alliance to hunt Devereux down and to stop the wave of violent crime sweeping through London.

Holmes and Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls - by Sidney Paget
Holmes and Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls – by Sidney Paget

I enjoyed Horowitz’s first foray into the Holmesian world, The House of Silk, very much, feeling he got Watson’s voice more nearly than any other faux-Holmes I had read. But this one is truly outstanding – one of the best books I’ve read all year by a wide margin. When I saw that it was set during the period when Holmes was ‘dead’ and that Watson wasn’t to be the narrator, I was disappointed, but not for long. It’s a brilliantly clever device that allows Horowitz to work firmly within Holmes’ world but without the pitfalls of characterisation or tone that so often beset ‘continuation’ novels. I won’t tell you more about the plot, because almost anything I say could be a potential spoiler. I’ll merely say it’s fantastic – Horowitz played me like a fish with intellectual challenges and made me laugh at my own stupefaction. It’s fast-moving and complicated, but not in the way that makes the reader feel lost – Horowitz keeps us on top of the story all the way through – or at least we think we are!

It was formed of brick walls and vaulted ceilings with arches, dozens of them arranged opposite each other in two lines. Steel girders had been fixed in place above our heads with hooks suspended on the ends of rusting chains. The floor consisted of cobblestones, centuries old and heavily worn, with tramlines swerving and criss-crossing each other on their way into the bowels of the earth. Everything was gaslit, the lamps throwing a luminescent haze that hung suspended in mid-air, like a winter’s fog.

Photo: Museum of London
Photo: Museum of London

Chase is a great character who rapidly takes on the role of Watson to Athelney Jones’ Holmes. Jones, as Holmes geeks may recall, was the detective who appeared in The Sign of the Four, and has developed a complex about Watson’s unflattering portrait of him in that story. So he has devoted himself to mastering all of Holmes’ techniques, meaning that we get a lovely pastiche of Holmes within the story, which stops us missing the Master too much. And Chase writes just as wonderfully as Watson, so that side’s covered too. The story easily stands on its own – it’s not necessary to be a Holmes geek to follow it, but there are loads of references to the original stories which add immensely to the fun if you are. For example, we finally learn all about the mystery of the parsley in the butter…

Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz

There’s constant excitement, terrifying peril, touches of horror, brilliant descriptions of London and enough humour to keep the tone light. The writing is superb, totally within character and as good as Conan Doyle’s own. The tone feels completely right for a Holmes book and the world of the book is absolutely the one in which Holmes lived and worked. And the only word I can find for the climax is awesome! So clever I read the last part of the book with a huge grin on my face, out of sheer pleasure and admiration. And then metaphorically rose to my feet and offered Mr Horowitz a well-deserved standing ovation…

You won’t be surprised to learn that I think you should read this. It’s a very special thing for Holmes fans, but it’s a great historical crime thriller in its own right too. Magnificent!

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

44 thoughts on “Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

  1. FictionFan – So very glad to hear this one worked so well for you. I’ve heard ‘happy buzz’ about it, but as you know, I’m usually not one to read continuations. Still, this one sounds like a real winner, and a solid treatment of the era. And that can mean a lot.

    • It really is a great read, Margot – and almost not a continuation novel really. Yes, there’s lots of nods to the Holmes stories but it’s a good one in its own right. And very affectionately done…

  2. Excellent. I had a feeling this would be good and I am so delighted to hear that it is. The very next thing I shall do is head to Amazon to ensure that this tome will be winging its way to me immediately.

    (By the way, I have taken your suggestion to do a Halloween-themed PorterGirl. I will be very much outside of my comfort zone with this, but I will give it my best shot. I will post it on Friday. Thanks for the inspiration!)

    • It’s brilliant! (Did I mention that?) I still keep grinning every time I think of it. Try to avoid any spoilerish reviews though – it works best when you have no idea what’s going to happen. I promise you that it’s not another Monogram Murders…!!

      (Ooh, good! I’ll be looking forward to it – nothing beats spooky… and the Old College seems an ideal place for ghosties, ghoulies and lang-legged beasties…)

  3. Well you got me (of course) with this one. It will be bought, it will be read.

    It sounds like a real winter read to savour. It will have to wait till this glorious autumn decides to get more punitive. The post firework night mists will probably be a good place to start!

    • It’s fabby, as you can probably tell from the number of superlatives in my gush! Right from Chapter 1 he had me hooked, and I’m still smiling about it now… Enjoy!! 🙂

      • Just finished ” Moriarty”. I must say, it lived up to your billing. It is difficult to say too much without giving the game away, but I thought it was a better book than “House of Silk”, perhaps because the main characters were not Holmes and Watson, and because the plot did not strike the unDoylian note that we both felt “House” did. I look forward to the next one.

        • Delighted you enjoyed it! There have been quite a few negative reviews on Amazon UK, and I was beginning to wonder if I was all alone in liking it. Yes, I agree, it was better than ‘House of Silk’ – the plot was much more in tune, and not having to sound like Watson cut down the chances of getting it wrong. And I thought Chase was a great character…

  4. You have piqued my curiosity. What fun to fall upon such a delicious and fun story. I shall have to put it on my list. My introduction to Holmes was via The Hound of the Baskervilles. I was ten years old, and it was so lovely and shivery.

  5. I’m torn by this. I really don’t like the current fashion of ‘follow-on’ books but I do love Horowitz’s writing. I pre-date even the Alex Rider books and always had whatever his latest work was on my classroom library shelves. Maybe I shall have to make an exception just for him.

    • Oh, do read this one, Alex! I almost feel as if it’s not really a ‘follow-on’ even though it’s so firmly set in Holmes’ world. But it’s not really pastiche or a copy – it’s got so much originality…and it’s just so much fun!

  6. Well that fateful day has arrived where you and I do not see eye to eye on a book! I’ve been very hesitant in reviewing this one as I really didn’t think much of it at all, but great review and glad that you enjoyed it so heartily 🙂

    • What?! Not possible!! 😉 Well, you absolutely must review it because I’m really intrigued to know what you didn’t like about it. I still can’t stop grinning when I think about how he fooled me! (But then I’m pretty easy to fool…)

  7. I started reading this certain in the knowledge that although you loved it that it wouldn’t be for me but there seems to be so much I would love especially as it isn’t trying to recreate Holmes but rather uses him as a starting point. My poor TBR 😦

    • Haha! I’m sorry! But I do think you should read this – in fact, I think everybody should read it! One of the cleverest books I’ve read all year – and so much fun! 😀

  8. This is *the* Anthony Horowitz? Who has written some of the screenplay for various BBC mysteries? Book sounds fabulous!

    • Yes, the very same! He wrote loads of childrens books which I haven’t read, but now he’s turned his hand to adult books too – and he’s great! The book IS fabulous… did I mention that? 😉

    • Thanks, Richard! Yes, I think Horowitz is doing a great job with these – much better than most of the Holmes follow-ons. Just going to pop over and take a look at your review… 🙂

  9. Great review. I left reading it until I had finished reading the book myself. Just finished writing my review which I will post in a couple of days. It is an excellent book which as you say stands alone, but which Holmes fans will enjoy too.

    • Oh, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’ve seen a few negative reviews of it on Amazon and was beginning to wonder if I was all alone. I’ll be looking out for your review… 🙂

  10. hi,sorry typos, braininjry my part, please be patinet worth it, jsut had to put rightas EVRYONE misses this, i just read it – can explain all. Moriarty FEVERDREAM! He is dying as he falls and whoel book is dream – many clues, here just a few. Biggest at end musing on Korteweg de Vries equation equations for waves on shallow water (Clarence de vriess). Also Clarence Dvereaux (Diver -> Eaux?). He’s off to USA , new World, death. The Mortlakes – Dead water? Perry – Peregrine, means Pilgrim guilt over Roger’s son. A Clarenece BTW is an enclosed carriage of time period. All action in enclosed spaces or underground, cemerteries, abatoires, death imagery, often cold freezinzg from water, Edgar mortlake survieves abrsurd fall into water, wisful thinking, beatrice from Dante.., so may tropes all thru – abrupt ending is speeding up on process, read end again, makes sensein this context. A coughing surviving sherlocck holmes not let JOnes go to death unwarned! anonymous note would do, not let Moriarty escape to USA to do eveil, with no anonymous letter to war authorities! BUT no, no problem of GOOD/EVIL because whole story is taking place in Moriartys mind – hence FEVERDREAm. On page 342 mentions teh (glancing) collision that might have broken bone but didn’t – oh but has doen worse than that Prof M! You are dyingas nd dont know it yet! (conscioulsy)
    Hence entertaining yarn more clever even, wonder though has Hororwitzz changed mond and wants to develop so never reaveld?

    • A fascinating theory, Rob, and Horowitz has such a twisty mind I wouldn’t put it past him to do something like that! It’s ages since I read the book, so I must admit my memory of the details is pretty sketchy now, but I must try to fit in a re-read sometime with your theory in mind…

      Thanks for popping in and commenting! 🙂

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