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'Moriarty': Does it live up to Anthony Horowitz's previous 'Sherlock Holmes' tale?

Horowitz won over critics with his 'Holmes' book 'The House of Silk,' but his take on Holmes's greatest adversary, 'Moriarty,' has received more mixed reviews so far.

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    'Moriarty' is by Anthony Horowitz.
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Anthony Horowitz scored with his take on Sherlock Holmes, “The House of Silk,” but his new tale about Holmes’s greatest nemesis, “Moriarty,” is receiving more mixed reviews.

“Silk” was released in 2011 as the first “Holmes” title to be authorized by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate. The book received widespread praise for the all-new adventure Horowitz created for Holmes and his faithful sidekick Watson, with Publishers Weekly writing that “the hype … is amply justified…. Horowitz gets everything right.” Washington Post critic Michael Dirda called the book “exceptionally entertaining.”

(Horowitz has also been selected to write a new “James Bond” novel with the approval of the Ian Fleming estate. That book is scheduled for publication in fall of 2015.)

So for his new adventure set in Conan Doyle’s world, Horowitz selected Professor Moriarty, the legendary nemesis of Holmes. (The book, named after the character, is now available abroad and is scheduled for release in the US on Dec. 9.) The new book follows American Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase and Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard after the supposed deaths of Holmes and Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls as Frederick and Athelney try to find a man who seems to be attempting to take over Moriarty’s position as leader of crime.

Amazon selected “Moriarty” as one of its 10 best books of December, with Neal Thompson of Amazon writing, “Horowitz’s fresh take on the legend of Sherlock Holmes pays homage to the original while infusing it with his own slick and twisty style.”

Kirkus Reviews was also impressed by the book, awarding it a starred review and writing, “A tour de force…. Readers who aren't put off by the Hollywood pacing, with action set pieces less like Conan Doyle than the Robert Downey Jr. movies, are in for a rare treat, a mystery as original as it is enthralling.” 

However, some other critics have been less enthusiastic. Publishers Weekly found the new book to be “disappointing…. As a pair, Jones and Chase are but a pale shadow of Holmes and Watson.” And Guardian critic Robert McCrum wrote, “To revisit Victorian London, in the months after the Reichenbach Falls disaster, with Holmes dead and Dr Watson absent, is to test narrative ingenuity to the limits of credibility…. [A] twist in the tale … is clever but contrived…. The atmosphere of smoke and mirrors in which Moriarty winds up will doubtless enthrall Sherlock fans, but runs the risk of leaving the general reader cold.”

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