The House of Silk

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The House of Silk
The House of Silk.jpeg
Author Anthony Horowitz
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Sherlock Holmes
Genre Detective fiction, crime fiction, mystery fiction
Publisher Little, Brown & Company
Publication date
1 November 2011
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 294
ISBN 0-316-19699-1

The House of Silk is a Sherlock Holmes novel written by British author Anthony Horowitz, published on 1 November 2011 in the United States and Europe. The book was promoted with the claim it was the first time the Conan Doyle Estate had authorised a new Sherlock Holmes pastiche,[1] but in fact both Caleb Carr’s The Italian Secretary and Lyndsay Faye’s Dust and Shadow had previously been approved.[2]


News of The House of Silk was mentioned on a post to Anthony Horowitz's website on 17 January 2011, which delivered the following statement:

Anthony Horowitz, the BAFTA-award winning creator of Foyle's War and author of the best-selling Alex Rider children's series, has been chosen by the Conan Doyle Estate to write a new full length Sherlock Holmes novel which will be published by Orion in September 2011. The content of the new tale—and indeed the title—remain a closely guarded secret. The prologue is currently under lock and key at the Orion offices. The announcement of the new novel was made to the Sherlock Holmes Society on 15 January where Anthony Horowitz was the keynote speaker.[3]

This brand new story is being written with the full endorsement of Conan Doyle Estate Ltd., ostensibly the first such time that they have given their seal of approval for a new Sherlock Holmes novel. Setting aside the numerous film and TV adaptations of the famous Baker Street detective, Anthony Horowitz has returned to the original books to produce a brilliant mystery novel, stripped back to the original style of Conan Doyle."[3] As a teaser to the novel, a video was released on Amazon, featuring Anthony Horowitz reading a chapter of the book. In it, the narrator Watson, reminisces about Holmes, revealing that he has died a short while before.[4] The novel highlights a previous adventure that had been "too shocking to reveal until now."[3]

The specific claim of it being the first book authorised by Conan Doyle Estate was disputed by Leslie S. Klinger, who cited Caleb Carr's The Italian Secretary and Lyndsay Faye's Dust and Shadow as two recent examples.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

The House of Silk begins with a brief, personal recounting of events by Watson, much like that in 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 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 since the first day of release have been 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.[5][6]

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.


Main article: Moriarty (novel)

Horowitz announced a second installment entitled Moriarty,[7][8] 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.[9][10]


  1. ^ Kennedy, Maev (12 April 2011). "New Sherlock Holmes novel by Anthony Horowitz out in November". Guardian. 
  2. ^ a b You can go Holmes again
  3. ^ a b c Horowitz, Anthony. "Alex Rider Author, Anthony Horowitz to write new Sherlock Holmes novel". Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Sansom, Ian (27 October 2011). "The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz – review". Guardian. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Horowitz, Anthony. "1 Nov 13 Tweet". Twitter. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Horowitz, Anthony. "22 Oct 13 Tweet". Twitter. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ Flood, Alison (10 April 2014). "Sherlock Holmes returns in new Anthony Horowitz book, Moriarty". Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 9 August 2014.