Literacy 2023: Book 10: The House of Silk

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson investigate a widespread conspiracy in a story so scandalous it had to be withheld from publishing for a century

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

One of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson’s later adventures, in which a seemingly straightforward crime involving an American gang leads the detectives to a dark conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of the British government, and gets Holmes arrested and imprisoned for murder!


  • As with Horowitz’s James Bond books, this does an excellent job of suggesting Arthur Conan Doyle’s style, but with a more modern story.
  • Captures the serialized feel of some of the original Holmes mysteries, where seemingly self-contained cases could balloon into longer, more complicated sagas.
  • Cleverly explains how a “missing” Sherlock Holmes story was published in the 21st century, by saying that Watson found the whole affair so scandalous he insisted it not be made public for 100 years.
  • Feels like a “fair” mystery, with clues that are made clear throughout and reward the reader for careful observation.
  • Matches the feel of the original stories without being too obvious an impression.


  • So much of it was so familiar that I strongly suspect I’ve read this book already, but completely forgot about it.
  • Filled with so much exposition, or just recounting events that happened elsewhere, that it all feels a step or two removed from any actual action.
  • Takes the character of Mycroft Holmes, who’s described as “stout” by Arthur Conan Doyle, and goes to such lengths to describe him as morbidly obese that it can’t help but come across as fatphobia on Horowitz’s part.

A solid but somewhat forgettable Sherlock Holmes mystery. There’s enough of an update to give the story a modern feel despite its fitting completely within the existing canon, but there’s not enough novel in it to make it feel as fresh as something like the Sherlock BBC series. Anthony Horowitz’s books are completely and dependably readable, and he was the perfect author to trust with the characters.