Guest Review: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

moriarty by anthony horowitzFormat read: paperback ARC
Formats available: ebook, hardcover, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Mystery
Series: Sherlock Holmes, #2
Length: 309 pages
Publisher: Harper
Date Released: December 9, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

The game is once again afoot in this thrilling mystery from the bestselling author of The House of Silk, sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, which explores what really happened when Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty tumbled to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls.

Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz’s nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of detective Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty—dubbed the Napoleon of crime” by Holmes—in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.

Days after the encounter at the Swiss waterfall, Pinkerton detective agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. Moriarty’s death has left an immediate, poisonous vacuum in the criminal underworld, and there is no shortage of candidates to take his place—including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase and Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction originally introduced by Conan Doyle in “The Sign of Four”, must forge a path through the darkest corners of England’s capital—from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the London Docks—in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty’s successor.

Review by Galen:

Two sets of footsteps leading to the edge of a ledge over the abyss… none returning. This is an image that has haunted fans of the writings of John Watson (as transmitted by Arthur Conan Doyle) for over a century.

Conan Doyle had perhaps hoped to be rid of the responsibility of publishing the chronicles of England’s most famous consulting detective, but the reading public would not allow that. And of course, “The Adventure of the Empty House” revealed that Holmes did not tumble to his death in the Reichenbach Falls, but instead had more pressing matters to attend to.

house of silk by anthony horowitzBut what about Moriarty? The linchpin of a crime network does not simply vanish without consequences. In Anthony Horowitz’s return to Holmes pastiches (his first foray, The House of Silk, was reviewed by Marlene back in 2012), he explores the forces rushing to fill in the vacuum.

Escape Rating B: The book maintains a fast and engaging pace, more suspense than mystery, from the moment Pinkerton detective Frederick Chase arrives up to view the body of Moriarty to the end when the power vacuum gets resolved. Chase teams up with Scotland Yard detective Athelney Jones, who reacts to his run-in with Holmes during “The Sign of Four” by becoming obsessed with Holmes’ methods, to the detriment of his own skill as a detective.

The nature of the twist ending becomes apparent well before its big reveal, but that doesn’t significantly detract from the book. I found the portrayal of Jones to be particularly sympathetic: Holmes, who did have an arrogant streak, left collateral damage in his wake, and it is good to see that acknowledged.

For a Holmes pastiche that features neither Holmes nor Watson, Moriarty does an excellent job of fleshing out a view of Holmes’ nemesis as being truly worthy of that name — while demonstrating a degree of emotional depth that is unusual in a mystery and suspense novel.

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