Book Review: Moriarty

Back from the cottage, and although I didn’t get as much reading done as I had initially hoped, it was still a very productive weekend. I will post my review of Foxcatcher by Mark Schultz tomorrow. But first my review of Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. I met with my fellow book club members on Thursday to discuss the read.

Title: Moriarty

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 285 pages

Publisher: Harper

Publishing Year: 2014

2015 Reading Challenge: A mystery or thriller

I’m hoping you all have read the stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or at least know of them. You don’t need to read the Sherlock Homes tales to understand this book, however it is probably a good idea to at least know about them before delving in. I think I’ve only read one or two Sherlock Holmes novels in my lifetime and I was fine. As long as you know that Holmes is a private detective in London, John Watson is his partner, and Moriarty is their sworn enemy, then you will have no problem understanding this book.

Moriarty takes place in the aftermath of the confrontation at Reichenbach Falls, Switzerland (also known as the “Final Problem”) between Detective Sherlock Holmes and his most famous foe, Professor James Moriarty. The struggle ends with both adversaries falling into the Falls and presumed dead.

“It was a stage like no other to act out a grand finale and one that would resonate, like the falls themselves, for centuries to come.” – Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz.

The period after the confrontation is known in the Sherlock Holmes tales as the “Great Hiatus,” because Holmes disappears for a period of time. Horowitz delves into what happened just after the incident at Reichenbach Falls, and it may not be what you expect.

Horowitz introduces the character of Frederick Chase, a senior investigator at New York’s infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency, who arrives in Switzerland a few days after the incident at Reichenbach Falls. He arrives at the local morgue to examine what appears to be the body of Professor Moriarty. There he meets Athelney Jones, a detective of Scotland Yard who displays many of the deductive methods used by Holmes.

Chase advises Inspector Athelney Jones that Moriarty’s death has left an opportunity for another criminal to take over his dealings in London. Chase suspects that a criminal by the name of Clarence Devereux had been in communication with Moriarty shortly before his death, and that they had wished to work with each other, and now with Moriarty gone, Devereux could take over Moriarty’s operations for himself.

“Moriarty received a letter on the twenty-second or twenty-third of April. It was written by a criminal very well known to Pinkerton’s, a man in every respect as wicked and as dangerous as Moriarty himself, inviting him to a meeting.” – Chase, Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz.

Chase and Jones form a partnership, similar to that of Holmes and Watson, to locate Devereaux and his partners (most of whom have never been seen in public) and bring them down.

I was surprised to learn after I read this book that Anthony Horowitz is a fairly popular writer, having written the young adult series, Alex Rider, and worked as a TV screenwriter, creating the mystery series, Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War. As well, he has written on Sherlock Holmes before in the novel, House of Silk. Horowitz is clearly very familiar with the mystery/thriller genre, and has no difficulty creating suspense, drama and intrigue.

I give this read a 4.5 out of 5. Overall I loved the book, the only criticism I have is that it was quite slow for the first 50 or so pages. It took me awhile to get into it. But after 50 pages it started to pick up and then I loved it. Also even though Chase and Jones were a good pairing, I still missed the original Holmes and Watson. A little bit more banter/debate between the two characters would have been great. But still a great read.

Also all of my fellow book club members (including myself) agreed that we did not anticipate the twist ending, it was very unexpected. Yes there is a twist! It is a huge twist! If anyone did guess the twist correctly I would be really surprised. I did suspect near the end of the book that something was up, there seemed to be so many unanswered questions and weird interactions between the characters. However I still did not expect what did happen. When the twist was revealed my mouth was literally open for about five minutes. I was angry at Horowitz but at the same time I couldn’t stop reading. I won’t say anymore, I’ve probably said too much already.

My fellow book club members (and myself) all really enjoyed this book, even those that weren’t a fan of the popular BBC series, Sherlock. Which is surprising because we rarely agree on anything. We recommend this book to anyone interested in some shock and awe.

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