We met on August 11th to discuss The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. According to the publisher, “for the first time in its one-hundred-and-twenty-five-year history, the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate has authorized a new Sherlock Holmes novel.” Although I have read some challenges to this statement, the book had come to my notice and the enduring character created by Doyle seemed a worthwhile catalyst for discussion. In addition, Anthony Horowitz has created some popular series on his own, including Alex Rider — a young-adult James Bond, and a television series, Foyle’s War.
Sherlock Holmes has inspired many movies, stories, and spin-offs. Most recently, a movie was released starring Ian McKellan as an aged, memory-impaired Holmes. Robert Downey Jr. has portrayed Holmes in a blockbuster movie series, Benedict Cumberbatch is a modern Holmes in a BBC television series, and Johnny Lee Miller is a modern, detecting-in-America Holmes. Laurie R. King has a continuing book series that started with The Bee-Keeper’s Apprentice.
With such a history, many of us are familiar with Sherlock Holmes from the adaptations more than from the original stories. Most of us felt that The House of Silk seemed to be a faithful addition and we didn’t have much to say about comparisons — although many of us found Holmes to be more likeable this time around. We could pick apart the believability of the mystery and Holmes’ incredible powers of observation, but is that really necessary? Most of us liked The House of Silk, but we agreed that the Sherlock Holmes formula works better in short stories than in a full-length novel.
The group was primarily moved by the subject of exploited children. One member read from page 52: “Childhood, after all, is the first precious coin that poverty steals from a child.” We came back to the children time and again – sometimes discussing that it was too horrible to be possible and at others reminding ourselves that we see it in the news even now.
We used discussion questions posted by the New York Public Library Reader’s Den. One member recommended the first season of Foyle’s War, particularly for the author interview included in that set. Our discussion bounced back and forth and was, as usual, full and varied.
To fully appreciate it, please join us — here or in person at our next meeting!
- Other Works Discussed:
- Conan Doyle detective: true crimes investigated by the creator of Sherlock Holmes
- (2006) Peter Costello
- The Lost World (1912) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- In the company of Sherlock Holmes: stories inspired by the Holmes canon (2014) edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger
- Silent witnesses: the often gruesome but always fascinating history of forensic science (2014) by Nigel McCrery
- The Scarlett Pimpernel (1905) Baroness Orczy
- Albert Nobbs (DVD) based on the short story “The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs” (1918) by George Moore
- The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (DVD) 1971 Television Series
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