The Conan Doyle estate’s decision to hire Anthony Horowitz to write new Sherlock Holmes stories seems an obvious choice. His work in both TV, with Foyle’s War, and in literature, with the Alex Rider series among countless other works, has cemented the author as one of the best British writers of adult and teenage fiction working at the moment.
Horowitz’s first Holmes novel, The House of Silk was a roaring success and Moriarty continues this trend, even if it doesn’t actually feature Conan Doyle’s famous detective or his sidekick. As the front cover states ‘Sherlock Holmes is dead’, the novel opens a day after his and Professor James Moriarty’s plunge over The Reichenbach Falls in ‘The Final Problem’. It follows Pinkerton agent, Fredrick Chase and British Inspector Athelney Jones (a minor character from Conan Doyle’s own The Sign of Four) as they attempt to track down a criminal far worse than the eponymous villain who seeks to fill the void left by Moriarty’s death.
The world that the author portrays is a substantially more morbid one than Conan Doyle envisioned, with there being significantly more bloodshed than depicted in any of the earlier novels. These aspects may disappoint true Holmesians, but the changes do make the novel somewhat more relevant and also reflects what the absence of Sherlock Holmes would really be like.
The narrative voice is perhaps the weakest part of the novel, although Chase plays an interestingly alternative Watson to Jones’ aspiring Holmes, the discourse between the two can grate upon the reader with its occasional simplicity, but this can be forgiven by the time the book reaches its exciting denouement.
Moriarty is less of a Sherlock Holmes novel, more a love letter to both the character and the world in which he exists. Horowitz clearly knows his lore and exercises that to full effect, and by bringing together several pre-existing characters to assist the author’s own creations, Horowitz successfully moulds a compelling narrative that can appeal to fans of the original tales and new readers alike.