The House of Silk

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The House of Silk
The House of Silk.jpeg
AuthorAnthony Horowitz
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesSherlock Holmes
GenreDetective fiction, crime fiction, mystery fiction
PublisherLittle, Brown & Company
Publication date
1 November 2011
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)

The House of Silk is a Sherlock Holmes novel written by British author Anthony Horowitz, published in 2011. The book was promoted with the claim it was the first time the Conan Doyle Estate had authorised a new novel that is not a Sherlock Holmes pastiche.[1][2][3]

Plot summary[edit]

The House of Silk begins with a brief, personal recounting of events by Watson, much like that in A Study in Scarlet by the original author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The reader is informed of the particulars regarding the first meeting of Watson and Holmes, including the circumstances of the Afghan War and a mention of the case that was "too shocking to be revealed until now."

The client of "The Flat Cap case" is introduced as a man by the name of Edmund Carstairs, an art dealer whose paintings had been destroyed by a gang of Irish robbers. After the murder of Carstairs' client, and a failure on the part of a hired detective, he turns to Sherlock Holmes, who employs the aid of the Baker Street Irregulars, and upon locating the hotel wherein the supposed Keelan O'Donaghue (one of the leaders of the gang) is currently staying, one of the newest recruits of the Irregulars, a boy named Ross, is stationed to wait outside until Holmes, Watson, and Mr. Carstairs arrive. When the group finally arrives, Ross appears inexplicably horror-stricken and is later found brutally murdered by the thugs of the House of Silk. When Holmes makes inroads with the House of Silk case, he is framed for murder and sent to prison. Meanwhile, Watson meets with a mystery criminal, later revealed as Professor Moriarty, who provides him with a key to free Holmes from prison, before the detective can be assassinated. Professor Moriarty's motives are uncertain, except that he wishes Holmes to rid the world of the House of Silk, whose activities apparently appall even him. When Watson arrives at the prison, he discovers Holmes has escaped of his own accord, disguised as an aide to the prison doctor, whom he had once helped as a client. Various leads draw them to a travelling funfair, where they are ambushed, before being saved by Lestrade.

The party (Holmes, Watson, Lestrade) makes its way to the "House of Silk", a club operated by a pastor and his wife who also govern a boy's orphanage, and rent the boys to wealthy customers. The members are promptly rounded up by Scotland Yard. Despite their arrests, however, the case does not come to trial, due to a royal family member having been purportedly involved. It is eventually revealed that Mrs. Carstairs is the true person responsible for The Flat Cap case, being the second leader of the Irish gang.

Critical reception[edit]

Critical reports were generally positive. On Anthony Horowitz's official site a review of The Guardian was posted, stating:

So, all of the elements are there: the data, the data, the data. Nothing of consequence overlooked. And yet can Horowitz, like Holmes, make from these drops of water the possibilities of an Atlantic or a Niagara? Can he astonish us? Can he thrill us? Are there "the rapid deductions, as swift as intuitions, and yet always founded on a logical basis" that we yearn for? Emphatically, yes.[4][5]

Allusions to other literary works[edit]

In chapter one there is some mention of C. Auguste Dupin, a character developed by author Edgar Allan Poe, and his ability to make astounding deductions based on visible emotions reflected through the physical medium. Holmes demonstrates this by uncovering Watson's anxiety and the source thereof. This mention of Dupin is in itself a reference to a reference made by Conan Doyle to the character in the first Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet.

The supporting character Ephraim Hardcastle (the landlord of the Bag of Nails pub, whose name is revealed in chapter eight) is a reference to the newspaper column of the same name in The Daily Mail as written pseudonymously by Nigel Dempster and subsequently Peter McKay.


Horowitz announced a second installment entitled Moriarty,[6][7] but this time Holmes only appears at the end. Moreover, those detectives that Holmes had worked with in previous cases, such as Athelney Jones and Lestrade, were present.[8][9]


  1. ^ Driscoll, Molly (4 November 2011). "Sherlock Holmes comes back to life in "The House of Silk"". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  2. ^ Kennedy, Maev (12 April 2011). "New Sherlock Holmes novel by Anthony Horowitz out in November". The Guardian.
  3. ^ Alexander, Niall (23 November 2011). "It's All In The Game: Sherlock Holmes and The House of Silk". Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  4. ^ Sansom, Ian (27 October 2011). "The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz – review". Guardian.
  5. ^ "House of Silk – The Guardian Review | News". Anthony Horowitz. 1 November 2011.
  6. ^ Horowitz, Anthony. "1 Nov 13 Tweet". Twitter. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  7. ^ Horowitz, Anthony. "22 Oct 13 Tweet". Twitter. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  8. ^ Tucker, Matthew (12 September 2013). "New 'Alex Rider' Novel: Anthony Horowitz On Sherlock Holmes, Poirot And 'Russian Roulette' (INTERVIEW)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  9. ^ Flood, Alison (10 April 2014). "Sherlock Holmes returns in new Anthony Horowitz book, Moriarty". Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 9 August 2014.