Friday, January 27, 2017

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Title: Moriarty: A Novel, Author: Anthony Horowitz Earlier this week I was trying to decide to what to read and realized I had a half-dozen books that were related to, reminiscent of, or inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous character. These included A Study in Charlotte, A Study in Scarlet Women, Mycroft, Beastly Bones, Lock & Mori, and Moriarty. So I thought why not make Sherlock Holmes the theme of my reading for the next few weeks and see how they compare. Since Anthony Horowitz's Moriarty was officially authorized by the Doyle estate and thus would likely be the closest to the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I decided to start there. My plan is then to make my way through the other novels and see how Doyle's most famous character has been interpreted and adapted.

The story begins in Switzerland at Reichenbach Falls where Holmes and Moriarty fall to their (supposed) deaths. One body is recovered. Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard goes to Switzerland to ascertain the identity of the recovered body. There he meets Frederick Chase, one of the Pinkerton Detective Agency's senior investigators.

Chase tells Jones that he has been chasing after Clarence Devereux an infamous American criminal. Chase warns Jones that with Moriarty gone a power vacuum has emerged in London's criminal world and we all know how nature abhors a vacuum. A violent group of American gangsters has already started making trouble in London. According to Chase, Devereux and Moriarty were planning an alliance. With Moriarty having gone over the falls, that just leaves the devilish Devereux. Chase and Jones hurriedly return to London, determined to stop the Americans from taking over in London. With Jones doing his best Sherlock Holmes impression (turns out he's a super fan) and Chase playing his Watson, the two men test their wits against the men who would try to fill the hole left by Moriarty.

I thoroughly enjoyed Moriarty although strictly speaking it is not a Sherlock Holmes story. Except for the early pages at the Falls, neither Holmes nor Watson makes an appearance. Instead we get two very good imitators. The more I think about it, I am hard pressed to call this a mystery. Instead I might place Moriarty in the category of a suspense. Jones and Chase find the man (men really) they're looking for fairly easily. The question is more how to lure them out into the open. I suppose there is a bit of a mystery in that there is some confusion over who killed who, with different characters each thinking someone else is responsible. The ending was half surprising. Half because I knew something was off about certain characters but I wasn't able to precisely predict the manner in which they were off (though I was close).  In any case I enjoyed the journey, especially the last hundred pages.

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