Home' The Mirror Central Otago : January 16th 2013 Contents 18
Some books you don't want to miss
This summer I just want to
Treat for Sherlock Holmes aficionados
THE HOUSE OF SILK
By Anthony Horowitz Orion/
Reviewed by Nicholas Reid
IT'S no new thing for somebody to
create additional Sherlock Holmes
Arthur Conan Doyle was incon-
siderate enough to write only four
novels and five volumes of short
stories concerning Holmes, and
the character is such a favour-
ite that there has always been
an audience hungering for more.
More films, radio and televi-
sion shows have been made out
any other fictional character
ever created. More parodies, too.
When I was young, Doyle's sto-
ries were still in copyright, so any-
one who wanted to do a pastiche
of them had to disguise the fact.
I remember enjoying August
Derleth's stories about a de-
tective called Solar Pons, who
was Sherlock Holmes in all but
name. Now Doyle's work is safely
out of copyright and the pas-
tiches don't have to be disguised.
But there's something spe-
cial about screenwriter An-
thony (Midsomer Murders)
Horowitz's The House of Silk.
It has the blessing of the Conan
Doyle estate and it shows.
The House of Silk tries
to mimic as closely as
possible Doyle's late-
Victorian style. It is
narrated by Dr
of course, just
as most of
tion is methodical and fastidious
and more than a little stuffy. There
is something very, very nasty at the
heart of the mystery it proposes
and there is some grim violence.
But the violence is never
described in detail, and of
It could almost have appeared
in The Strand magazine, circa
1890. Given that it is intended as
direct imitation and has to be read
as such, there's a lot to like in this
gallop. Thank goodness Watson is
not presented as a blithering idiot,
the way he was in some of the movie
versions -- especially the ones from
the 40s, where he was played
by empty-headed Nigel
Bruce to Basil
son is, as he should be, a brave,
intelligent and stout fellow, but
not as intelligent as Holmes.
In this outing, Inspector Lest-
rade of Scotland Yard is treated
with remarkable courtesy. Rather
than being the foil for Holmes' bril-
liance, he is Holmes' ally, coming to
his rescue on a couple of occasions.
And there are some good
scenes with Holmes' even
more brilliant brother, My-
croft, at the Diogenes Club.
OK -- there is the downside,
just as there is in the originals.
Master criminals have a
habit of conveniently explaining
all when they are cornered, in
speeches that tie up the loose ends.
Dialogue is often improbably
stiff and formal. And it does go on
a bit. I believe The House of Silk
is slightly longer than any of Conan
Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels.
frain from giving away the plot,
I note it has a lot of ingenuity.
That includes the chap-
ters where Holmes is carted
off to prison and Watson has
For anyone who wishes Conan
Doyle had written more, I think
this does the business. fucredit
Historian and poet Nicholas Reid con-
ducts weekly book blog Reid's Reader, at
Guiding light to change
MAKE MIRACLES IN FORTY DAYS
By Melody Beattie Simon &
Schuster $36.99 (hardback)
Reviewed by Mike Alexander
THE author who first pio-
neered the idea of "co-depen-
dent relationships" continues
her exploration into being
authentic with a compelling
message about forgiveness.
After more than 20 years of
research, Melody Beattie has
concluded the greatest obsta-
cle to personal freedom is an
inability to let go of the past.
The idea of accepting,
events in our
lives might seem contradictory
to human nature but that's
exactly why Beatty's recipe for
transformation is so intriguing
and engaging. She is one of the
guiding lights in consciousness
renewal and gently shows
how to avoid drowning while
By Martha Schabas Text $37
Reviewed by Catherine Woulfe
THIS is like the literary love
child of the films Black Swan
and An Education.
It's beautiful, macabre, intel-
ligent and clean, an uncom-
fortable step-by-step dance
through the workings of one
Georgia is an unusually ob-
servant, obsessive 14-year-old.
A brilliant dancer, she loathes
the way other girls at the pres-
tigious academy exude sex and
resolves to stay pure -- not in
the virginal sense, exactly, but
in the way she dances.
But Georgia becomes con-
cross a line.
Her obsession shifts to him,
and her ordered world starts to
The author, Martha Scha-
bas, danced ballet from five
years old. She made it into
Canada's national ballet school
but was dumped at 15 because
the arches of her feet were not
This is her first novel and it
is absolutely en pointe.
Tale of a ballet dancer
A journey of discovery
THE LEGACY OF
By Paul Torday Weidenfeld
& Nicolson/Hachette $39.99
Reviewed by Maureen Marriner
HOW strange. It feels like
old-school chick lit without the
chick -- gently romantic (so
many descriptions of bracken)
but no palpitations.
It's about the downfall of the
house of Hartlepool although
the rot set in two generations
before. Ed, the no-longer young,
heirless Marquis of Hartlepool,
is called back from France
years of tax
cloud letters from home.
It is not that Ed is feckless
but he has been brought up
in the understanding that
accountants and bankers look
after one's affairs -- that's what
one pays them for. It is, in the
end, a love story and a journey
to discovery. But it is strange.
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