It seems doesn’t it as if Sherlock Holmes just cannot be allowed to die? More writers than Holmes’ creator Conan Doyle have felt impelled to resurrect and reshape Holmes and to deal with the great rivalry between him and the arch criminal Moriarty. How many of us have a date with the TV series Elementary or can’t wait for the next episode of Sherlock?
Actually, here I have to confess to watching episodes of Elementary only on airplanes, and I actually didn’t enjoy “The Abominable Bride,” the last offering in the Sherlock canon. I still think the best representation of Conan Doyle’s Holmes was the Granada series starring Jeremy Brett. But I digress.
Horowitz’s Moriarty arrived in my collection as a birthday present just before Christmas, and I am obviously somewhat behind in reviewing it. The novel is a clever, even witty, addition to the apparently ever growing material responding to the events at the Reichenbach Falls. According to the dust jacket of my copy, The Washington Post deems it “one of the best Sherlockian pastiches of our time,” and apparently, “Moriarty is the first Sherlock Holmes novel sanctioned by the author’s estate since Horowitz House of Silk,” which I missed reading but will try to find.
I was given Moriarty for my birthday because the giver knew that I really enjoy Foyle’s War and, to a lesser extent, Midsummer Murders, for both of which series Horowitz is a scriptwriter. I read Moriarty quite quickly and enjoyed it, but I’m afraid I had worked out the conclusion to the problem by about half way through the book. I’m never sure whether this is a good thing to experience when reading a “mystery” novel. Does one feel more satisfied as a reader realizing at the end of the story that despite the writer having given one all the information just as the successful sleuth sees it (or at least one is given the information if the writer plays fair and doesn’t have surprise last minute characters and so forth) that one isn’t as sharp as the sleuth; or is it more satisfying to reach the end of the story and realize that one was right all along? I’m not completely sure.
Anyway, Moriarty is an engaging story in which a Pinkerton Agent from the US teams up with Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland yard to find and destroy a master criminal who intends to replace Moriarty at the centre of London’s criminal underworld. The characters are well drawn–Athelney Jones I found particularly sympathetic–and Horowitz’s evocation of Victorian London is appropriately moody and atmospheric. Perhaps unsurprisingly given Horowitz’s expertise as a scriptwriter, the book depends quite heavily on dialogue. I won’t say much more because I don’t want to give too much away. However, I might draw your attention to the fact that the book has a first person narrator, and this narrator is no John Watson.