Anthony Horowitz: Moriarty (2014)


I didn’t expect that I would enjoy Moriarty so much but I did. This is especially surprising because, initially, I had no intention of reading it. I don’t usually pick up Sherlock Homes sequels, but since I’m planning on visiting the Swiss Sherlock Homes Museum and the Reichenbach Falls soon, I was suddenly tempted. I don’t regret it. Of course, the weather played a role as well. After weeks of temperatures over 100°/39°, we suddenly had cool and rainy autumnal weather.

The book starts at the Reichenbach Falls, in Switzerland. Those who are familiar with the Sherlock Holmes stories, know that’s where Holmes and his adversary Moriarty meet and fall to their deaths. Or, to be more precise, we are led to believe they fell to their deaths. It’s here, at the Reichenbach Falls, where Inspector Athelney Jones from Scotland Yard and Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase meet. The two men hit it off instantly and decide to join forces and hunt for a criminal, who is even more evil than Moriarty—Clarence Devereux, a ruthless American criminal who’s been followed by his violent entourage. A coded message in the pockets of the dead man they believe to be Moriarty, tells the two men where to go next. It looks as if Devereux and Moriarty were meant to meet in London.

Jones and Chase leave Switzerland and travel back to London where they embark on a hunt for the elusive criminal and follow his trail of violence and murder.

This is a very tightly plotted, dramatic and atmospheric story that manages to capture the Victorian London we know so well from the Sherlock Holmes story. I was afraid at first, that the book might be a bit artificial but while it shares elements with the Sherlock Holmes stories, it felt original. It also felt much more modern. I can’t think of any Sherlock Homes story in which the crimes depicted were as gruesome as in this novel. It’s an entertaining, enjoyable page-turner that will appeal to more than just Sherlock Holmes fans. My only reservation – admittedly it’s not a small one – the twist towards the end. If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about, if not—be prepared. You might be disappointed. I was annoyed at first, but a few days after having finished the book, the memory of the great atmosphere and the tight plot remains, while the twist is just a faint aftertaste. In a way, looking back, it even makes sense. Nonetheless, I felt I needed to warn people. There were reviewers on amazon who were so annoyed by the twist that it made them hate the book.

At the end of the book, as a freebie, so to speak, there’s one of Horowitz’ Sherlock Holmes stories “The Three Monarchs”, which I found quite enjoyable too.

In spite of the twist – I can really recommend this crime novel. It’s been written in the spirit of the Sherlock Holmes stories but adapted to our more modern tastes. An ideal book for a rainy afternoon.

29 thoughts on “Anthony Horowitz: Moriarty (2014)

  1. I really enjoyed Moriarty – I thought the twist was great because I hadn’t expected it ( then thought perhaps I should have) it made me gasp. I like being so memorably surprised.

    • Yes, it was a shock but I also felt mislead. Afterwards I thought it made a lot of sense.
      But I was a bit dsiappponted.
      But I did love it and would read another of his novels.

  2. I tend to stay away from “sequels” too. I haven’t read much Sherlock Holmes but I read a story of his in one of those collections from various writers and I was surprised to find that it was one of my favourites in the book.
    Sometimes it’s a good thing to take reading chances, and that’s what happened here.

  3. Hi, Caroline. Thanks for reviewing this book; I’ve had it in my online library’s wish list for almost a year now, but couldn’t persuade myself to read it. It’s not so much that i doubted Horowitz’s authorly skills as that I always resent anyone, even a latter-day miracle worker, making free with my great hero, Sherlock Holmes (and who would he be, too, without Dr. Watson?). I’m afraid I’m a purist who shuns works penned after the original author is dead. A. C. Doyle is dead? Then so is Sherlock Holmes. That’s been my attitude. I’ve never read “The Ten and a Half Percent Solution,” or “The Ten Percent Solution,” or whatever it is, and even though I thought someone told me that “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” was only borrowing the title from Sherlock Holmes, and I actually own a copy of the book, I have somehow not read it either. But Horowitz is tempting, especially in this day of giving villains their fair share of the attention and making them as important nearly as the heroes and heroines. Now maybe that I learn that you yourself have read it and thought it worth commenting upon, I will get round to it. As to Horowitz’s other books, I’ve seen the front covers on my online library site (at least the ones used in the U. S.), and none of them look to be more than cheap thrillers, though that may easily be unfair. I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, he! he!, but having worked in my family’s book business for years from the time I was small until I was in my early twenties, I can tell you that marketing and merchandising of books and their representative covers is amazingly consistent. I often decide to read books because their cover alone looked tempting, while I totally ignore the blurbs. Anyway, Horowitz, here I (eventually) come!

    • P.S. If you’re into reverse tales with the villain as a sort of hero or heroine, maybe try “Wicked” by Geoffrey Maguire, a tale in which the Wicked Witch from “The Wizard of Oz” has her apotheosis.

    • I hope you’ll like it. I think those with the terrible covers, you mention, are for a younger audience. I think it’s a YA series.
      He wrote another novel, before this, in which SSherlock Holmes plays a role. I?m pretty similar when it comes to covers, btw.
      I feel like you about most Sherlock Holmes inspired books but nonetheles, I was suddenly tempted and I don’t regret it. He really writes well. Very accesible, readable.
      I also heard a lot of good things about Laurie R. Kings novels and will read one sooner or later.
      Let me know how you liked it, should you read it.

  4. Caroline, have you not seen the series “Sherlock” with Benedict Cumberbatch? They did this story brilliantly. The Moriarty in the episode was truly despicable, but made for great viewing. I didn’t realize it was based on a novel by someone other than Arthur Conan Doyle.

    • The series is based on Conan Doyle. I just think they flesh out the original stories. I saw a few of the episodes but after a while I enjoyed them less. I haven’t seen the Moriarty one though.

  5. I’ve only ever read one Sherlock Holmes story (The Hound). 😐 I’m glad you mostly liked this spin-off. It sounds as though the author did a good job of mixing the old and the new – that can be hard to pull off – and he’s brave to have taken on a beloved character such as Holmes.

    I’ve flicked through some of the Austen spin-offs and found them entirely wanting, but is sounds as though Horowitz mostly pulled it off.

    • The Austen spin-offs are quite different. I think often they are not even spin offs of the book but of the movies and pretend Austen is pure romance. I’ve got a fee suggestions from Amateur Reader (Tom) a while back though, which should be really good but aren’t romance/fluffy but rather contemporaray witty. I did love THe Jane Austen Book Club though, but that was different.
      Horowitz never cutefies (a word I possibly just invented) the Homes stories. He’s true to the spirit. I really liked that.

      • I’ve never been able to finish an Austen spin-off book. One I tried is ‘The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett’ by Colleen McCulloch in which, on the last couple of pages, she has Mary preach the benefits of having her baby circumcised. It’s just so incredibly weird and terrible! 😀

        I saw the movie of The Jane Austen Book Club and didn’t mind it. I can’t really remember what it was about now, though. While on the subject, recently I watched the 1995 film based on Persuasion, and really liked it. Have you seen that one? Also, I bought ‘Mr Holmes’, the Mitch Cullin novel, the other day. Have you read it?

        • Circumcised? Oh, that’s weird. I hadn’t heard of Mr Holmes. I’ll have to look it up. I’ve watched the more recent BBC version of Persuasion and I’m not sure I liked it. It’s ok but something was missing.
          I guess The Jane Austen Book Club is different because it’s about her books and not a spin off.

  6. Though I am also very skeptical of these series that consist of sequels to classic books I have heard really good things about Horowitz’s work.

    Personally I would want to refresh my mind with a reread of some of the original Sherlock Holmes books before reading this.

    Are you going to read House of Sllk?

  7. I have not read many actual Sherlock Holmes books–though I do read the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes historical mysteries which I really enjoy. I don’t tend to read or like spin-offs so much, but I have heard many good things about this and I think I would like it. Since I am not a Holmes devotee, I think it would be safe for me! 🙂 When will you go to the actual falls? I hope you take pictures!

    • I’m pretty sure you’d like this one. He writes really well. And I will read the first Mary Russell soon.
      I hope I can visit in September. It’s not very far from where I live but not as accessible, so I’m not sure whether we go by car or by train. I’m so looking forward to it.
      I hope I can share pictures.

  8. I’m so so glad you liked it: I have it on my Book club list for this year and I was a bit skeptical too.
    I hope I’ll enjoy it too, I’m not so familiar with Sherlock Holmes.

  9. Nice review, Caroline. I rarely read sequels of classics (I am with Victoria (Shadow Operator) on this one), but this one does look interesting. Sorry to know about the twist in the end. Sometimes these sudden twists spoil the whole book. Glad to know that the book is good, inspite of the unwelcome twist. I loved your sentence – “An ideal book for a rainy afternoon” – while reading that sentence, I could almost hear Holmes egging on Watson during a rainy afternoon – “Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot” 🙂

    • Exactly. 🙂 I really dind’t like the twist at the time but looking back I must admit -it was more my problem than a problem with the twist as such. I can’t elaborate as it would spoil the book.
      I loved it. The atmosphere is great and he’s such an assured writer. You might enjoy it.

  10. Pingback: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz | Book Around The Corner

Thanks for commenting, I love to hear your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.