Review: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
Published December 9th 2014 by Harper
Review copy received from the publisher
I’m a huge self-proclaimed fan of anything Sherlock. Recently I’ve started dabbling in the original works by Arthur Conan Doyle, while simultaneously gorging myself on the BBC adaptation of Sherlock – and this book by Anthony Horowitz, the second of his Sherlock Holmes books.
After Moriarty and Sherlock face off and disappear in Switzerland, Frederick Chase, a private detective from New York, teams up with Athelney Jones, a detective of Scotland Yard and a severe Sherlock fanboy, to discover what happened and to stop the recent invasion of the London crime scene.
For a book in a series about Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty sure does feature very little actual Holmes. As a character he never makes an appearance, and the sad little substitute we get is Jones, who loves everything Sherlock but sucks in actually bringing it into practice. I had a hard time loving the book when the characters I love so dearly – Holmes and Watson – are completely absent. Chase and Jones at no point have the fantastic chemistry that Holmes and Watson have, nor are they as interesting as the enigma Sherlock Holmes.
The mystery itself was pretty thin. At first there barely is a mystery, and even less motivation of our main characters to spend any time of it. Some high-up mobster from the States has decided to make London his home, and he is somehow linked to the incident at the Reichenbach falls. However, it takes ages for the plot to gain any steam or sense of urgency. There was no necessity, and the mystery on a whole felt soulless and flat.
Horowitz is a fantastic writer, and he has a way with words that’s both natural and engaging. I didn’t feel like Moriarty showed his writing off to its full potential. His writing in The House of Silk, his first Sherlock Holmes book, felt more dynamic.
Since I haven’t read all of the original Sherlock Holmes books yet, I can’t fully judge how Moriarty ties in with them. Moriarty seems to be set within the boundaries and stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, maybe showing a different side of the story, or filling the voids in between books. The meta-storytelling is admirable, especially when Chase sets out to improve on Watson’s writings. Although the ending of Moriarty was well done, on a whole the book left me rather cold.
Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz’s nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of Detective Sherlock Holmes and Professor James Moriarty–dubbed “the Napoleon of crime”–in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.
Days after Holmes and Moriarty disappear into the waterfall’s churning depths, Frederick Chase, a senior investigator at New York’s infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency, arrives in Switzerland. Chase brings with him a dire warning: Moriarty’s death has left a convenient vacancy in London’s criminal underworld. There is no shortage of candidates to take his place–including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.
Chase is assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a Scotland Yard detective and devoted student of Holmes’s methods of deduction, whom Conan Doyle introduced in The Sign of Four. The two men join forces and fight their way through the sinuous streets of Victorian London–from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the 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.
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A long time ago I asked Anthony some questions on Twitter…