I was wrong about 'Moriarty'

I was wrong about 'Moriarty'

When you read a detective novel, do you pick out your suspects and get your expected ending ready? The more of a book I’m holding in my left hand, the less remaining to read in my right hand, the more I do that.

Still, I enjoy being proven wrong.

I doubt that I’ll enjoy being proven wrong any more in 2015 than the way Anthony Horowitz fooled me in his novel “Moriarty” (Orion Books, 2014). Even though my skin was crawling, I found myself laughing out loud at, well, “the genius and the wonder of the thing” near the end.

I don’t know whether I’ll call this a Sustaining Book; that takes time, and I just finished it last night. However, its action takes place between two of my favorite stories, two of the best Sherlock Holmes stories — “The Final Problem” and my favorite story, period, “The Adventure of the Empty House,” both among Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterpieces.

Since this novel takes place before “The Empty House,” there are few spoilers in the plot, but “Moriarty” is definitely for dyed-in-the-wool Sherlockians (or Holmesians, if you prefer).

I didn’t think I needed much guidance as the story began in Meiringen, Switzerland. When the action shifted to a house in which curry was being cooked, I remembered the immense significance of curried mutton. When an un-named inspector at Scotland Yard was quoted about working with Holmes on a case about a horse and a barking dog (!!), I was ready to name the  man — and chalk up that barking to Scotland Yard inaccuracy.

If I’ve lost you by mentioning such details, this isn’t the book for you. But if you’re following me this far, get yourself a couple of evenings — not late nights! — in which nothing else is going on, and speed through “Moriarty.”

Horowitz led me up the garden path of an amazing plot, and I laughed at myself for it.

I’m tempted to conclude with “You’ll never believe it,” but part of the fun (and the chills) is what you will believe. Because (all together now),

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

For more fun with words, stop by the Margaret Serious page on Facebook.

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  • Holmes told Watson he travelled around during the interim. Tibet, Persia, Arabia, Sudan, and even France. In Tibet he spent "some days with the head Llama". Probably doing something like woolgathering.

    Margaret, thanks for the literary tip. Good post.

  • Woolgathering! At last, that explains it about the two-L llama, as Ogden Nash would say. Thanks.
    By the way, "The Annotated Sherlock Holmes" by W.S. Baring Gould lets "Llama" sit (and has no note). "The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes" (2005) by Leslie S. Klinger has a note asking "Which head lama?" (Klinger goes with what Nash would call "the one-l lama, he's a priest.") But he then points out that "neither the Dalai Lama nor the Panchen Lama is referred to as 'head lama'."
    As for the two-L version, Klinger comments on that spelling in the earliest editions of "The Empty House" by noting "One doubts that Holmes would have spent his time in collaboration with a pack animal (one that in any case was indigenous to the Andes, not the Himalayas.)"
    (No doubt that Tibet and Peru were both too exotic for Sir Arthur's travels -- and maybe his editors' as well.)

  • I may yet be bitten by your Sir Arthur Conan Doyle bug! This link may interest you: https://eleventhstack.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/reading-resolutions-2015/

  • In reply to folkloric:

    I've bookmarked Eleventh Stack -- it interests me well. Many thanks.
    Meanwhile, if you're bitten by the bug, don't worry; Sir Arthur was a doctor!

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