Bookhounders may remember that I lavished praise on Anthony Horowitz's addition to the Sherlock Holmes canon, The House of Silk. Moriarty is the second of his Holmes stories, and is, I believe, even better than House of Silk. It's a clever, clever novel. Beautifully written, tight-paced, hugely readable, everything that a good thriller should be.

Horowitz adroitly avoids any criticism of his depiction of Holmes and Watson by avoiding them for most of the novel. Although there's a wonderful pastiche of a Strand Magazine article towards the end of the book. For much of the novel (despite the title) there is very little mention of any of Conan Doyle's familiar characters.

Starting around the time of the events at the Reichenbach Falls, Frederick Chase is a Pinkerton agent on the trail of an American criminal mastermind, who appears to be scooping up the crime networks left behind in Britain following the demise of Moriarty. Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, who is a huge Holmes fan, is also anxious to mop up the criminals that Holmes was unable to snare. Together the intrepid duo are hot on their trail; but a series of gruesome murders suggests that it's not only Clarence Devereux, the American Crime-King, who is keen to inherit Moriarty's networks.

This is a stunningly clever novel with twists and turns aplenty. It even completely threw the Bookhound, who normally prides herself on being able to spot a plot twist several miles away (I guessed what Horowitz was up to, but had mistaken where the twist was placed - I will say no more on this leaving it to the next reader to be as surprised as I was). It's cunningly written paying due respect to Ronald Knox's 10 commandments of crime fiction. Horowitz smashes his way through one of the commandments, but does it so exceptionally that you really can't hold it against him.

I thought Moriarty was a brilliant read. It reads like a late Victorian / early twentieth century thriller, there's a real sense of place as carriages ride through Victorian London and footpads lurk in the tunnels beneath Smithfield, there's some great characterisation and some of the best use of smoke and mirrors since the Great Lafayette.

Moriarty is Anthony Horowitz at his stunning best. In fact it out Conan's Doyle.


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