In 1893, the British public was outraged. Arthur Conan Doyle had just done the unspeakable – in a titanic struggle at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, Sherlock Holmes and his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty had struggled and fallen to the rocks below, presumably to their deaths. Sherlock Holmes would no longer grace his way in the minds of the reading public.
It would take eight years, and considerable sullen outrage, but Holmes would finally return, in Doyle’s 1901 novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.
We know what happened to Holmes, but what happened to Moriarty?
Numerous authors have tried answering that question in novel form since Doyle’s death in 1930. Now Anthony Horowitz has now taken a shot at it, with Moriarty.
In short, the novel is enthralling, convincing – and devilish.
Frederick Chase is a detective with the Pinkerton Detective Agency in America. He’s sent to Europe, and specifically to Switzerland, to find clues to the whereabouts of an arch-criminal in America, one Clarence Devereux. He is reportedly in Europe, to step into the place of Moriarity.
In Switzerland, Chase meets Scotland yard detective Athelney Jones, sent by the Yard to verify Moriarty’s death. There is a body; together Jones and Chase examine it. And they find a note, in code, addressed to Moriarty and likely from Devereux. Then it’s on to London; the game is indeed afoot.
With each page, the story becomes more than a mystery. It quickly centers on the growing friendship of the two detectives, one American and one British, one a private agent and the other representing the greatest investigating authority of the time. The developments begin to come one after another, quickening the pace toward what looks to be a horrific conclusion. (In fact, the story is almost as fast-paced as the television series Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.)
Slowly the reader begins to be ask – was that Moriarty’s body they saw in Switzerland, or was it someone else? And if someone else, then where is Moriarty?
Horowitz has written numerous novels and one previous Sherlock Holmes story, The House of Silk in 2011. He is perhaps best known as the creator of two television programs popular in both Great Britain and the United States, Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War.
What a story Moriarty is, full of twists and turns, keeping the reader on edge and guessing in every chapter. It is mystery writing at its historical best.
Illustration: Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes in their struggle at Reichenbach Falls.