From the first word, the style, the tone, the characters, the language, the inter-twining of plots and sub-plots and the little puzzles and deductions in which Holmes has always excelled, are all faithfully and skilfully adhered to by Anthony Horowitz. The result is superb and delightful.
The author even takes great care to avoid the use of diminutives in exactly the same way as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. For example, he writes “has not” rather than “hasn’t.” This minute attention to replication of the original detail is a real winner for me.
The storyline is believable and strikes at many levels. Victorian London’s atmosphere and society are splendidly portrayed, even down to the sights and smells of that era.
What starts out as a simple case for Holmes is wonderfully narrated by his devoted companion, Dr Watson, as events lead them both into increasingly dark and sinister scenarios. The characters are developed to just the right levels, appropriate to their roles, and one feels a both sense of empathy with the victims and, simultaneously, revulsion and anger towards the perpetrators of such dastardly deeds.
At one stage, Holmes enters into such a perilous situation that one wonders how on Earth he can ever extricate himself safely. Of course, knowing Holmes of old, the reader is confident that he will escape the danger, but it is difficult not to be consumed by Watson’s sense of despair. It is so real!
I very much enjoyed the typically precise deductions and explanations of Holmes along the lines of telling people, including Watson, of recent events in their lives: where they had been and what they had been doing. Horowitz captured these in exactly the same way as Sir Arthur had managed in the original stories. Absolutely stunning!
The conclusion is exciting and fast-paced. Possibly, this is at odds with the original series, but it can be excused because it seemed to fit so well with all that had gone before, and it would be difficult to imagine a better way to end this particular story.
The notes that Horowitz provides at the end of the book are extremely interesting, but I would encourage any reader to leave them until after they have read the whole story. In a way, I hope that this is a one off, but if Horowitz were to change his mind and write another Sherlock Holmes book, I would be first in line to order my copy.
Highly recommended to all.