Saturday, January 13, 2018

Anthony Horowitz, Moriarty

Anthony Horowitz, Moriarty
Harper Perennial © 2015 Anthony Horowitz
ISBN 978-0-06-237719-7

I found Horowitz’s House of Silk to be one of the better Sherlock Holmes pastiches I have ever read.  In Moriarty, he returns to the period, but with a different focus.  The title suggests that Professor Moriarty will be the focus of the book…but, then, perhaps not.  Early on, Athelny Jones (who did not fare very well in his interactions with Holmes) and our narrator, a Pinkerton agent (Frederick Chase), meet in the Swiss town of Meiringen, where they view the body, found in the waters beneath the Reichenbach Falls, of a man whom Jones identifies as Moriarty.  In a secret pocket of the suit on the corpse, Jones finds a coded message arranging a meeting between Moriarty and a pair of American gangsters.

Chase and Jones agree to explore this situation.  And Jones reveals himself as an ardent exponent of the methods of Sherlock Holmes.

The tale then moves to, and remains in, London.  As Chase and Jones look into the activities of the Americans, things become somewhat bloody.  One entire household is murdered.  A bomb goes off inside Scotland Yard, very near Jones’s office, which he left minutes before.  Our investigators track one of the Americans to the U.S. legation, but their investigation is impeded by the doctrine of extraterritoriality. 

It is a tangled tale, and much of it was entertaining.  It seemed to me early on that Moriarty must still be alive (because of the book’s title, of course), and I narrowed the possibilities to two.  But the book proceeds at a leisurely—perhaps too leisurely—pace.  And, near the end, the narrative is interrupted by a long, expository recapitulation of what we have read.  As a whole, it’s a readable, but not a book that is impossible to put down, entertaining, but not as entertaining as House of Silk.  Horowitz does a good job of concealing where he’s going, and an excellent job of placing us in late Victorian England.  Overall, I’m not sorry to have read it, but, somehow, felt that the promise of the book was slightly unfulfilled.

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