by Anthony Horowitz
Full disclosure: I am a neophyte when it comes to the Sherlock Holmes. I was only recently drawn into the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective by the recent PBS television series starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
So it was with a bit of hesitation that I dived into “Moriarty,” Anthony Horowitz’ s new novel set in the days after the fateful struggle between Holmes and Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. Who’s dead? Who’s alive? Would a reader new to this world be able to track and keep up?
I shouldn’t have worried. In his second novel endorsed by the Conan Doyle estate (the first was 2011’s “House of Silk”) Horowitz has crafted a dense and intriguing mystery narrated by Frederick Chase, an investigator with New York’s Pinkerton Detective Agency. The reader is introduced to Chase as he comes to Europe to investigate the murder of a friend, and then follows him as he slowly becomes involved in the aforementioned case.
Joining Chase in this adventure is Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones, a devotee of Holmes’ methods and style (Jones appeared in the Sherlock Holmes story “The Sign of Four”). The two characters meet while examining an unidentified body pulled out of the Reichenbach Falls.
They find a clue, and before you can say “the game’s afoot” they’re are boarding a train and headed to London where they get involved with a number of unsavory (and very dangerous) characters. Jones and Chase become our substitute Holmes and Watson.
Horowitz, a prolific author and creator of the British television series “Foyle’s War,” is a master at description and detail; observing the play of light in a glass, following a suspect through the streets of London or checking in at less-than-pristine hotel. This story is feast for the imagination.
And did I mention the twist? Near the end of the novel, Horowitz pulls out a surprise that totally caught me off guard and made me appreciate this book even more. No spoilers here. If you’re a fan of detective fiction — and of Holmes in particular — just read it.