Why reading and writing is the road to happiness...

This blog started years ago as a place to muse on the life projects keeping me entertained. It is no surprise then that it has morphed into a blog about my reading as that has been my lifelong project. Here I review lots of different types of books, with an added focus on Australian women writers. Hope you enjoy - feel free to contribute to the conversation!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

It's Elementary Dear Reader - Book Review 'Sherlock Holmes and the House of Silk'

I mentioned that I was reading the new Sherlock Holmes novel, and I now have to explain much to do with that statement. I noted that a new Holmes novel had been released last year when I saw a review in the Herald, but had not chased it up in the bookshop. Then last week I was in the library and saw it in the new releases, grabbed it with glee and compounded an irrefutable fact: I am a massive nerd, and the fact that my nerdom took place in the local library is just sweet serendipity. I love Sherlock Holmes novels - just the originals though. I haven't read every take off or satire, I haven't watched that tv show currently airing - in other words I'm a fan of the novels, but I'm not an obsessive Holmes fan. I did see the first Guy Ritchie film - and will get around to seeing the second one - and I liked it. I thought it was fun and captured the spirit of the novels well. And indeed this novel (which was the first to be commissioned and approved by the Conan Doyle Estate) was very well written. Andy Horowitz is a British writer who is well known for the teen Alex Rider series and the screenplays for Foyle's War, the Poirot tv show, and Midsomer Murders. His blog says that he recently had an explosion in his eye from presumably sitting at a computer writing all day - the man is prolific! His blurb says that he has committed more fictional murders than any other writer today.
Anyway, when did my Holmes nerdiness start? I do recall in 1998 that I made sure my itinerary in London included a trip to the real Baker St, to see a little plaque that alluded to Holmes so I must have liked the novels back then. I can't remember when I read the first Doyle novel - but let's just say that the clever Holmes appealed to an amatuer sleuth like myself. I've already mentioned my love for the Phryne Fisher series and it's clear that I'll never get over my regret at not becoming a real detective. I just didn't want to spend years training and working as a common cop first - I wanted to go straight to crouching down beside chalk outlines and taking swigs from my hip flask to counter the grim horror of my day job. You know, like how all the tv and novel detectives act at the scenes of the crime.
I've learnt all my sleuthing from books and tv so I could possibly become a detective without doing the training anyway - Holmes, Phryne, Poirot, Miss Marple, Tony and Carol from the Val McDermid series, all the crazy Swedes in the Nordic Noir, Jane Tennyson in Prime Suspect. I've taken notes from them all. Except... circa 2005 I embarked on a major investigation in my workplace as staff members pleaded with me to find out who was stealing yoghurts from the communal fridge. We were talking a staff of 60 or so, so tricky work. I undertook the case because I love a challenge but my major tactics of hovering around the fridge nonchalantly, and then inspecting tongues as I spoke to people to identify any yoghurt residue, did not deliver the goods. P.D James would not have been impressed: it remains a cold case.
Meanwhile... I recommend the new Holmes novel. It has some 'adult' content but I think that brings the Holmes tradition into the modern age. And as I read the novel I was reminded that I had read in Stepehn Fry's memoirs last year that he is a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society. A quick scan of their website highlights their  eccentric activities and they are wonderfully nerdy: they dress up as Holmes and Watson and take pilgimmages to pertinent spots from the novels, glamorous places like Switzerland. They debate facts from the novels, read excerpts, and I would hazard a guess to say that they would probably drink a lot of whiskey and eat plentifully. Sounds divine. I'm thinking of joining...


The House of Silk book cover


  1. Hi Angie,

    My eldest son adores all things Sherlock and has done since his infancy. He also adores the Australian crime writer, Shane Maloney, whose books he has entirely consumed, with much thanks to me for tracking them down for him in Oz and sending them over to Blighty (some of which were signed copies no less - Mother of the Decade award coming up).

    Shane inhabits the world of Murray Whelan - a sort of wanna be, hard boiled detective a la Raymond Chandler (you know the kind of thing, "I was wearing my powder-blue suit... I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be.") but with a more modern/comic edge. I've read the books myself (there's a DVD or two as well) and thoroughly enjoyed them. I have EVEN (fanfare required here) communicated (by email) with the actual Shane Maloney himself (no pun on the similarity of the name) AND he actually wrote back!! Yeah, see, I can tell you're impressed.

    Anyhoo, worth a read if you have nothing better to do, which a quick romp through this site suggests otherwise!! No, I do not work for Shane Maloney and do not receive any 'royalties'....unfortunately!

    Ciao xx

    Sonia (Melouney - same pronunciation, different spelling, but who's counting?)

    1. Forgot to post link to Shane's site ..... honestly I do NOT get royalties....I'm just a second hand fan, first cousin once removed kind of thing! Honest!


  2. Sonia!!!!! So good to hear from you. I will check out Maloney - I've read interviews with him but haven't read any of the books. I've been too obsessed with Scandinavian crime but I need to move on from that genre and get some more Australian stiff in my life. I read all the Leigh Redhead books - same type of Aussie Raymond Chandler wanna be - and your son might like those too


  3. I will certainly pass on the Redhead books tip to first born and see what he thinks....Mr Maloney, although once a prolific writer in his quest for stardom in the literary world, seems to have come to a dead stop except for touring about a bit and telling people stuff - despite, I might add, me stalking him on the net and demanding to know when he will be providing aforementioned son with more reading material! As yet, nothing, zilch, nayda, zero.....it is, in fact thus far, a dead parrot.

    Have to say though, despite not getting any royalties, that I actually enjoyed the books and I don't even like crime fiction....they were quite funny.

    P.S. How is your gorgeous bub doing? She looks adorable.