Jan 11, 2015

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes NovelThe House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Horowitz did an excellent job of copying Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's style and delivering a Sherlock Holmes mystery.

The book begins with Edmund Carstairs seeking Holmes' aid. Carstairs is part owner of a gallery which sold some paintings to a wealthy American (Cornelius Stillman). Unfortunately the paintings were destroyed en-route during a train robbery. Carstairs found it necessary to travel to America to deal with the insurance involved in the loss of the paintings and the death of the security guard. While there he and Stillman hired a Pinkerton Agent (Bill McParland) to track down the Flat Cap Gang, which was lead by twin "brothers". During their attempted apprehension the older brother was killed and the younger Keelan O'Donaghue escaped. Shortly thereafter Stillman was murdered, presumably by Keelan and Carstairs left for England.

Carstairs fears that the man loitering outside his home and stalking his family is Keelan come to extract revenge on him. Holmes says at this point he can not help but shortly thereafter there is a break in and money and a necklace are taken at this point Homes picks up the trail. He uses his Irregulars to keep an eye on local pawn shops and when the "thief" pawns a necklace the Irregulars follow him to his boarding house and send for Homes. Now the story takes an odd twist. The Irregular who was left at the Boarding House looks terrified and ask the names of the men with Holmes. Shortly thereafter the boy (Ross) disappears. Holmes assumes the boy was terrified because he saw who murdered the "thief" but later discovers that was not the case. When they go into the boarding house they find the supposed thief murdered and the only thing in his room a cigar case bears the initials WP.

Discovering that Ross recently came to London after running away from the Chorley Grange School for Boys Holmes visits the school where one of the boys tells Holmes that Ross has a sister that works at the Bag of Nails in London. Unfortunately there are two Bags of Nails in London and Holmes and Watson get to the correct one to late. Ross is found dead after being brutally tortured. The only clues a white silk ribbon tied around his wrist (like one Holmes received in the mail) and his sisters fear that Holmes and Watson were from The House of Silk. With no idea what the House of Silk is or where it can be located Holmes turns to Mycroft for help. Mycroft makes inquiries but then tells Holmes that he has been warned off by his superiors and that he must stop investigating the House of Silk. If he fails to do so Mycroft will be unable to help him.

Holmes continues his investigation by taking an advertisement out in the paper and is lead into a trap. Jailed for the murder of Ross' sister things look bleak. Watson calls upon Mycroft who states again that he can not help, but does attempt to get Watson into see Holmes. Watson arrives at the jail to learn that Holmes is gravelly ill. Investigator Harriman doesn't believe Holmes is really ill and insist on accompanying Watson to the hospital ward, where Holmes has been locked inside a private room. When the door is open the room is found to be empty. Harriman jumps to the conclusion that when the retarded orderly left the door open to assist a patient Holmes hid in a coffin that was being carried out. They rush to intercept the coffin before it leaves the grounds but when they get to the coffin they discover the only thing in the coffin is the corpse which is suppose to be in there and no trace of Holmes can be found.

The Headmaster at Chorley Grange visit Watson and gives him a flyer he supposedly found under Ross' mattress advertising a Circus run by a Dr. Silk. When Watson makes contact with Holmes he tell him he has found the House of Silk, but Holmes knows that the Circus is merely another trap. They walk into the trap but before the assassins can finish off Holmes and Watson, Inspector Lestrade shows up with several policeman. The assassins are killed but one lives long enough to tell Holmes the House of Silk is holding a meeting that very night.

They rush to Chorley Grange where several prominent men including Inspector Harriman are caught in bed with young boys. Arrest are made and Holmes goes to the Carstairs where he reveals that Edmund was a member of the House of Silk and that his wife Catherine is in actual fact Keelan.

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