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Reader’s Den

Reader's Den January: "The House of Silk" Discussion Questions

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Sherlock Holmes., Digital ID 1195868, New York Public LibraryI hope everyone has read (or is reading) the newest Sherlock Holmes novel, The House of Silk, and has met (or are meeting) the wonderfully complex characters — including an encore performance from Sherlock's brother, Mycroft Holmes.

Many questions came to mind, especially relating to the House of Silk's subject matter. In the spirit of not giving away the secrets of the novel, for those who intend to read (or are reading) it, here are some questions that will help start the thought process while maintaining the surprises.

Discussion Questions

  1. Anthony Horowitz's acknowledgements say, "Writing this book has been a joy and my hope is that I will have done some justice to the original."
    If you are an avid reader of Arthur Conan Doyle's novels, how does Anthony Horowitz's version compare?
  2. "Holmes, you insist upon seeing yourself as a machine." — John Watson.
    Do you believe this to be so? Or do you think that Dr. Watson is oversimplifying Holmes character based on previously solved cases?
  3. When following Holmes's logic, do you believe that he is drawing the right conclusions and assumptions based on the evidence provided in the novel? Would his conclusions be probable in the real world or in the historical narrative?
  4. What were your reactions to the realization of what the House of Silk was and what it entailed?
    Were you surprised by Horowitz's evolution of the novel?
  5. Did John Watson and Sherlock Holmes reveal new sides of their characters in this novel?
    Did the other characters — especially the various criminals — come to life and become human beings or merely ghastly versions of villainy?
  6. Watson writes, "For all men are equal at the moment of death and who are we to judge them when a much greater judge awaits."
    Do you agree, even if the person in question tried to harm you or your family?
  7. What would your reaction be if you had been Holmes or Watson in this case of the House of Silk?
    Would your actions or reactions be any different — regardless of sex, religion or creed?
  8. There were two mysteries to be solved — the case of the Man in the Cap and the House of Silk. Detective Lestrade oversimplified one and had no clue of the other. Do you believe that Holmes is a better detective merely because he became so entrenched in the mystery, or is he like Dr. Gregory House and addicted to puzzles?

I hope you like these questions and have many more of your own to offer! Please leave comments and observations. Looking forward to next week for our wrap-up and read-a-likes.

Comments

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I greatly enjoyed reading The

I greatly enjoyed reading The House of Silk and thought Anthony Horowitz did a very creditable job of bringing Holmes and Watson back to life! When I finished reading, I just wanted more. Since it had been quite a while since I had read any of the original Holmes stories, I downloaded several public domain eBooks through NYPL, and after re-reading "The Redheaded League," "The Copper Beeches" and other stories, was even more convinced that the portrayal of Holmes and Watson in The House of Silk was well done, the plotting intriguing and the detection convincing. The crime they uncover put me in mind of one of contemporary writer Anne Perry's dark Victorian mysteries set in a London rife with hypocrisy and exploitation.

Wholeheartedly agree!

I completely agree with you, Elizabeth. I do think that Horowitz did an excellent job of characterizing and portraying the characters of Holmes and Watson. The crime, I find, was also in the vein of a contemporary mystery. I can only hope that they continue to use Horowitz as the new voice of Watson in his presentation of Sherlock Holmes’ escapades. I felt that the novel provided a more realistic and relatable Holmes character and his camaraderie with Watson more so than Conan Doyles “Elementary my dear, Watson” attitude in the actual progression and final conclusion of the case. Their friendship was interactive and personable. The House of Silk also held true to the “double mystery” that so many Sherlock Holmes novels contain and was presented in a fashion that, hopefully, a new generation of readers will enjoy.

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