Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, the second in the Sherlock Holmes series which began with House of Silk takes place directly after the events at Reichenbach Falls. Where locked in battle, Sherlock Holmes and Professor James Moriarty plunge to their deaths.
Newly arrived from America, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Reichenbach Falls five days after the event in hopes of reaching and following James Moriarty, only to be confronted by the dead body on the slab before him. Joined by Scotland Yard Inspector Atheleny Jones, Chase explains that he was pursuing Moriarty in hopes that the master criminal would lead him to another master criminal. An American by the name of Clarence Devereux. It is Chase’s belief that Devereux was going to join forces with Moriarty and together create a criminal empire that would control all illegal activity on both shores. Unlike Moriarty, Devereux is a particularly vicious criminal with a penchant for the use of violence to the extreme.
“…Scotchy Lavelle was sitting in one of the heavy wooden chairs that I had noticed the day before and which had been dragged forward expressly for this purpose. He was dressed in a silk nightshirt which reached his ankles. His feet were bare. He had been positioned so that he faced a mirror. Whoever had done this had wanted him to see what was going to happen.
He had not been tied into place. He had been nailed there. Jagged squares of metal protruded from the backs of his broken hands which even in death still clasped the arms of the chair as if determined not to let go. The hammer that had been used for this evil deed lay in front of the fireplace and there was a china vase, lying on its side. Nearby, I noticed two bright ribbons which must have been brought down from the bedroom and which were also strewn on the floor.
Scotchy Levelle’s throat had been cut cleanly and viciously in a manner that could not help but remind me of the surgeon’s knife that Perry had so cheerfully used to threaten me in the Café Royal. I wondered if Jones had already leapt to the same, unavoidable conclusion. This horrific murder could have been committed by a child…”
Returning to London, Chase and Jones pursue the phantom that is Devereux through a host of middle men hoping to catch the elusive crime lord. Jones employing many of Holmes’ techniques and Chase with a more direct American approach. But this criminal is very different from the type they are use to and will they and their families survive the coming battle.
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz is a brilliant and sinister mystery in the fashion of all the Holmes’ tales but with one exception. There is no Holmes. There is no Watson. Moriarty himself plays a small part for much of the story and I will not say more on that otherwise it would spoil the reading of this well thought out tale. The issue with the book is that it tries too hard to make up for the lack of the two main characters of any Holmes mystery and actually works at being too clever for its on good. Inspector Athelney Jones is a younger, less confident version of Holmes, who can deduce what is before him, but lacks the ability to judge what is coming next. Chase as the narrator is out of his depth for much of the story. The creation of Devereux as their adversary is brilliant. He is as ruthless as he is flawed.
Overall a very well done mystery but will seem tedious and slow to some who are not lovers of the writing style that is a Sherlock Holmes novel.