Monday, July 20, 2015
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz opens at the close of Sherlock Holmes’ apparent last case, “The Final Problem,” in which Holmes confronts Professor James Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. Horowitz basically picks up where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle left off and, in some small measure, focuses on what happens to the world’s favorite detective and his arch nemesis. Horowitz, however, takes a surprising turn and introduces a new character: Frederick Chase, an investigator with the Pinkerton Detective Agency of New York.
And Frederick Chase isn’t alone. Horowitz also introduces a new villain, a man who rivals James Moriarty in his duplicity and his invisibility, a man who may very well be seeking to extend his criminal empire over the sea to fill the shoes of Europe’s “Napoleon of Crime.”
I was intrigued by the premise, especially since Horowitz decided to recycle characters from Conan Doyle’s mysteries, like Inspector Athelney Jones and Inspector Lestrade. Jones appears to take the place of our beloved Sherlock. As an ardent student of Holmes’ methods, Jones takes center stage, pinpointing unexpected clues, making great leaps of logic with inexplicable ease, and cornering criminals. Jones makes an intriguing character and, I will say, a fine detective.
Likewise, Frederick Chase makes a fine narrator. He, like Dr. John Watson, documents events surrounding the case, providing a candid account and detailed insight for the reader. I find I like Detective Chase for his candor and his ability to pen a riveting story; however, I found I was a little alarmed by his allusions to the future—and for good reason.
The final two chapters of Moriarty see the entire plot unraveling, reaching a climax that I certainly didn’t expect. I mean, the conclusion of Horowitz’s novel was like a punch in the stomach. Although the narrator alludes to future events, to the potential for tragedy, I didn’t expect events to unfold as they did. In concluding the novel as he did, Horowitz created a truly brilliant—and truly terrifying—villain.
My one complaint about Moriarty is the pace. Although Chase and Inspector Jones consistently find themselves wedged in a spot of trouble, stumbling into dangerous situations and bizarre adventures that should surely keep the reader intrigued, I would occasionally lose interest in the development of the story. With so many unanswered questions, so many twists that consistently seemed to develop into nothing, I was not the most dedicated reader and I frequently took breaks between chapters. While the final two chapters proved to be the most exciting, the others were much less so.
Note: With the release of the new Sherlock Homes movie starring Ian McKellan as an elderly version of the detective, we thought this was an appropriate time to post a this review. The movie is based on the book A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin. There is a review of that book here.