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

TBR Thursday 41…

Episode 41

 

The TBR is still going down. (Hurrah!) Currently standing at an almost respectable 103, it will hopefully dip back down to two figures within the next few weeks…if I can continue to withstand the temptation of all your lovely reviews, that is. So here’s another bumper crop of pre-Christmas treats on the list – though Christmas may have to be put back a couple of months to give me time to read them all…

Crime

 

moriartyIt’s publication day for Anthony Horowitz’s second Holmes follow-on (though I’m not sure Holmes is actually in it), and it’s already arrived on my Kindle. I thought he caught Watson’s voice incredibly well in his first, The House of Silk, though I was slightly less enamoured with some aspects of the plot. Intrigued to see where he takes us in this one…

The Blurb saysSherlock Holmes is dead. Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind who has risen to take his place. Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction, Frederick Chase must forge a path through the darkest corners of the capital to shine light on this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.

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want you deadNow, I blame Cleo for this one. She’s always raving about Peter James, so when I was offered a copy of this from Pan MacMillan, I found it impossible to say no. Click to read her review on Cleopatra Loves Books – but be warned. Visiting Cleo’s blog can severely damage your TBR…

The Blurb saysWhen Red Westwood meets handsome, charming and rich Bryce Laurent through an online dating agency, there is an instant attraction. But as their love blossoms, the truth about his past, and his dark side, begins to emerge. Everything he has told Red about himself turns out to be a tissue of lies, and her infatuation with him gradually turns to terror.

Within a year, and under police protection, she evicts him from her flat and her life. But Red’s nightmare is only just beginning. For Bryce is obsessed with her, and he intends to destroy everything and everyone she has ever known and loved – and then her too…

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Factual

 

the edge of extinctionCourtesy of NetGalley. I haven’t come across too many environmental/wildlife books this year, so looking forward to this one…

The Blurb saysJules Pretty’s travels take him among the Māori people along the coasts of the Pacific, into the mountains of China, and across petroglyph-rich deserts of Australia. He treks with nomads over the continent-wide steppes of Tuva in southern Siberia, walks and boats in the wildlife-rich inland swamps of southern Africa, and experiences the Arctic with ice fishermen in Finland. He explores the coasts and inland marshes of eastern England and Northern Ireland and accompanies Innu people across the taiga’s snowy forests and the lakes of the Labrador interior. Pretty concludes his global journey immersed in the discrete cultures and landscapes embedded within the American landscape: the small farms of the Amish, the swamps of the Cajuns in the deep South, and the deserts of California. From these accounts of people living close to the land and close to the edge emerges a larger story about sustainability and the future of the planet. Pretty addresses not only current threats to natural and cultural diversity but also the unsustainability of modern lifestyles typical of industrialized countries. In a very real sense, Pretty discovers, what we manage to preserve now may well save us later.”

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Fiction

 

gutenberg's apprenticeFrom bookbridgr (sic) this time – a paper book! Do I still remember how to read them? But it seems rather appropriate that this book should be printed ‘properly’…

The Blurb says “In the middle of the 15th century, scribe Peter Schoeffer is dismayed to be instructed by his father to give up his beloved profession of illuminating texts in Paris. Instead he is to travel to Mainz in Germany to be apprenticed to Johann Gutenberg, an entrepreneur who has invented a new process for producing books – the printing press. Working in conditions of extreme secrecy, the men employed by Gutenberg daily face new challenges both artistic and physical as they strive to create the new books to the standard required by their master. In a time of huge turmoil in Europe and around the world, Gutenberg is relentless in pursuing his dream and wooing the powerful religious leaders whose support is critical. Peter’s resistance to the project slowly dissolves as he sees that, with the guidance of a scribe such as himself, the new Bibles could be as beautiful in their way as the old. Today we can see that beauty in some of our museums, but few know the astonishing tale of ambition, ruthlessness and triumph that lies behind it.

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london a literary anthologyAnd on the subject of beautiful books, I am the lucky recipient of a hardback copy of this courtesy of The British Library. It is sumptuously illustrated – if the content lives up to the look and feel of this one, it will be a thing of pure joy…

The Blurb says“There’s nowhere like London really you know,” says Ginger in Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies. From the innumerable books written about London or set in the city, it would seem countless other writers agree. This anthology features a broad collection of poems and scenes from novels that stretch from the fifteenth century to the present day. They range from Daniel Defoe extolling it as “the greatest, the finest, the richest city in the world,” and Rudyard Kipling declaring impatiently, “I am sick of London town,” to William Makepeace Thackeray moving among “the very greatest circles of the London fashion,” and Charles Dickens venturing into an “infernal gulf.”

Illustrated with evocative prints, drawings, and full-color artwork from British Library collections, the book explores London as never before. Experience London for the first time with Lord Byron’s Don Juan and James Berry in his Caribbean gear “beginning in the city.”  Plunge into the multiracial whirlpool described in William Wordsworth’s Prelude, Hanif Kureishi’s The Black Album, and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, and see the ever-changing city through the eyes of Tobias Smollett, John Galsworthy, and Angela Carter. From well-known texts to others that are less familiar, London: A Literary Anthology brings London to life through the words of many of the greatest writers in the English language.

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NB All blurbs taken from NetGalley, Goodreads or Amazon.

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So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?