As it turns out, I don’t know how to review a book.
So, instead, I’m going to say what books I like and why I like them. This is one. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. Most people who know me have literally no clue that I like Sherlock Holmes. If that is a pun, I’m sure I intended it. Which reminds me. The joke with the overly specific setup involving a pun contest, and someone not getting any of his ten puns a win is terrible. No doubt in my mind that it’s one of the worst jokes of all time.
What was I talking about? Oh yes. The House of Silk is a Sherlock Holmes novel. Watson, as is typical in these pastiche stories, is the narrator, and he opens with an explanation of why this story hasn’t been heard before: it was too big of a deal. Sounds solid, but for Pete’s sake, we can hear about the Scandal in Bohemia?
No matter. I said pastiche a moment ago…but I’m not sure if it is one. The intent is to emulate Arthur Conan Doyle’s (I’m not going to say sir, since I don’t like royalty, and, as a matter of fact, neither does Holmes, as stated in, if I recall correctly, The Noble Bachelor) writing style, but since it’s an authorized sequel from the Doyle estate, do we really consider it as such? Is Colfer’s And Another Thing a pastiche? I don’t know. Now, this business about an authorized sequel is, frankly, irrelevant for several reasons, the chief of which is the fact that Sherlock Holmes as a character can be used anywhere for almost anything. The stories were written over a hundred years ago. But, it is still notable, since even The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, by Adrian Conan Doyle, Arthur’s son, didn’t receive that distinction.
Anyway, it opens with this explanation of why we didn’t hear it before, and, honestly, it goes on to read very much like a Doyle story. Other than the slightly modernized language (he still says the word hansom, for example, but I didn’t hear some other things I find typical of late 19th century British writing), I barely noticed I wasn’t reading a canon book. This is good, considering at the same time, I was reading The Sign of the Four, a canonical Holmes book, and one of the Day novels, I think the Copycat Murder one. The Day book, at every turn, reads like a non canon book, and this is to its detriment. The Horowitz novel, on the other hand, is every bit as good, and perhaps even better, than the originals. The same Holmes methods were applied, but there was just the right amount of lampshade hanging about the mystery format here, something Doyle never quite got right.
Every time, and I need to quit writing this so I can get to bed, Doyle would have Holmes say something like “Oh, and I suppose in your story, Watson, the doorbell would ring right about now,” it brought me right out of the story. Then, other times, the problem with the formulaic nature of a mystery novel or story, or at least these ones, would make itself apparent without Doyle giving a reason. Now, any Sherlock Holmes fan knows that he’s an arrogant butthead who deliberately keeps others in the dark for theatrical effect, but as a similar person in real life, I can tell you that people always bother me about it. If you’re not going to fabricate a reason that the final exposition or indeed the process of solving the mystery isn’t shown to the reader, then at least make sure the reader is reminded that Holmes is a jerk.
Holmes fans may argue with me that this isn’t needed, since what we’re supposed to be reading is Watson’s slightly fictionalized accounts of the adventures and cases, but come on, that’s almost what I’m talking about. There is a fine line that needs to be walked in terms of acknowledging the tropes and Horowitz does it. Bam, back on subject.
Except not really. Somewhere in there, I wanted to also point out some things about the recent (read: in the past 20 years) BBC 4 dramatizations of Sherlock Holmes and their continuations with Further Adventures and how lampshade hanging can work better in radio plays, even if they’re still supposed to be dramas. Then, I was going to go on about those for a while. It’s a disease, it truly is.
It’s now 11 PM, and I’ve discovered this title is accurate. I can’t review a book, nor can I even accomplish what I set out to do at the beginning of this post. Instead, I just kind of talked about Sherlock Holmes for a little bit. I may finish this aside on Silk later. I may just continue talking about Sherlock Holmes later, too.
It’ll be exciting when I get my Transformer tablet and I can just go on for hours for no reason using that. Hopefully it will function just like this laptop. Oftentimes, tablet interfaces aren’t written for power, which means, of course, that they will subconsciously limit the person’s deranged mind from digressing down the dark dank direction his disposition may want him to. I don’t actually like alliteration, and I don’t know why I’ve not stopped writing, considering the blog post should have ended midway through the last paragraph.
This is the end now. 913 words.