Faux Sherlock Holmes has been a thing practically since the creation of Sherlock Holmes. The originals were almost immediately ridiculously popular, so of course there were imitations. So many of them that ITV once ran a whole series adapting contemporaneous imitations of Sherlock Holmes. For the record, and if you’re interested in this particular shadowed literary corner, William Hope Hodgson’s ‘Carnacki’ stories are well worth checking out.
Having given us his Sherlock Holmes in the actually not bad ‘House of Silk’, Anthony Horovitz now gives us his fake Holmes in ‘Moriarty’.
Sherlock Holmes is dead, having fallen from the Reichenbach Falls, and stepping into the breach are a young Scotland Yard Inspector and a Pinkerton Detective – in the Holmes/Watson roles respectively. These new heroes are out to foil a new mastermind villain determined to take over London
The problem is that reading imitations of Sherlock Holmes is nowhere near as much fun as reading Sherlock Holmes, and The Great Detective hangs such a large spectre over this story that it’s impossible not to miss him. And if you actually take a step back and think about it, then this is someone other than Conan-Doyle writing about a detective who isn’t Sherlock Holmes and whilst not un-entertaining (which I know is absolutely damning with faint praise) in terms of inessential ephemera around Sherlock Holmes, this feels really inessential.
At the close of the volume we have a fake Holmes story – ‘The Three Monarchs’ – which links to the main book and, I guess, is supposed to serve as a palate cleanser. And even though it’s thin and insubstantial, I just wished that all that went before had been Holmes, rather than fake Holmes.