In general, I’ve found Holmes stories or novels not written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to be a bit of a mixed bag. I always look forward to enjoying one more adventure with one of my favorite literary characters, but I generally walk away feeling a tad bit disappointed or (most likely) feeling like I should just re-read the Holmes canon again.
Anthony Horowitz’s Moriarity has a twist that other non-Conan Doyle Holmes stories don’t — it’s focused on two minor characters from the Holmes canon instead of Holmes and Watson.
I’d hoped going into the novel this might give it a leg up. Unfortunately, it did not.
Set between “The Final Problem” and “The Empty House,” Moriarity teams up Inspector Athelney Jones (introduced in The Sign of Four and a New York Detective Frederick Chase, who is a member of the Pinkerton Agency. The two were working to prevent a meeting between Moriarity and the head of a London-based crime syndicate. But news of the Professor’s death has the two scrambling to try and bring the elusive head into the light of day so he can be arrested and brought to justice. The duo decide to impersonate Moriarity to keep their plan going forward.
It’s an interesting premise and for the first few pages, I found myself intrigued by it. But as with much of the Holmes canon, I find that less is more. About two-thirds of the way through, I felt that the story might have been better served as a short story.
Horowitz wins points for his extensive knowledge of the Holmes canon and his attention to detail. But that doesn’t quite make the story as interesting or as compelling as I’d hoped it might be.