Sherlock Holmes, the well-known detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 1880s, has long been a favorite of mine. Of course, I read most of the novels and short stories many years ago and continue to "follow" his adventures in every motion picture and TV show that turns up (actor Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal in TV's "Sherlock" is a favorite). But until recently - when it was a special Kindle offer - I had no idea this book (or its predecessor, The House of Silk, existed. In fact, it was an Amazon Best Book of the Month in December 2014, and I learned that both books were approved by Doyle's estate.
It was the description, though, that reeled me in: The mystery "explores what really happened when Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty, tumbled to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls." I stayed on hooked all the way to the end - an end that, for the record, pretty much blew me away.
The story begins not long after the two enemies tumbled over the falls, effectively eliminating one of the criminals sought by both the Pinkerton agency and Scotland Yard. Now, another one has moved to the top of the most-wanted list, and it appears he fancies himself a worthy successor to Moriarty. Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase, who provides a first-person narration here, has come to Europe from New York in hopes of tracking down the criminal, named Clarence Devereaux. Chase meets up with Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones, a dedicated Holmes aficionado, and they join forces on a search that takes them through unsavory parts of London and puts their lives at risk with regularity.
The writing style mirrors that of Doyle (that is to say a little bit stuffy, but totally fun), and references to that author's works are too numerous to mention. I don't think it's necessary to have read Doyle's works to enjoy this book, but on the other hand, a little familiarity with them certainly enhanced my enjoyment. I'll also emphasize that this is not a book about Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Watson per se; the references to both are many, but neither makes a personal appearance (Sherlock, of course, was lost at the Swiss falls before this book begins).
In summary, this is the first book in a while that elicited a "Wow!" from me when I got to the end. I also learned that author Horowitz has written a James Bond novel (another all-time favorite character of mine) set for release in the United States in September 2015, titled Trigger Mortis. Big surprise - I'm heading to Amazon to pre-order a Kindle version as we speak.
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz (Harper, December 2014); 309 pp.