Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty have just plunged into the depths of the Reichenbach Falls and only one body has emerged. Scotland Yard sends Athelney Jones to investigate where he meets Frederick Chase, a private detective from America. The two men have come to see the body of what they believe to be Moriarty but soon realise there is another master criminal at large, a Clarence Devereux, who wants to take over Moriarty’s network of criminals. The two detectives must move fast to stop him.
This novel has good pace, particularly in the first half and the reader can follow a trail of clues left for them by the writer. However, many of the clues seem unrealistic and lack the subtlety of a Doyle Sherlock Holmes story.
Horowitz sets up a good balance of the Holmes-Watson relationship with Jones and Chase and the relationships mirror each other nicely. Chase is very much the amazed Watson prepared to bow to his friend’s superior knowledge but not all is quite as it seems here.
As you would expect the novel has a shock twist at the end and the title begins to make more sense. The twist probably won’t surprise all readers but it has been well constructed.
Clarence Devereux proves a good, if easily defeatable, villain and brings the thought out planning we admire so much in Moriarty into contact with the dark underworld of American crime. This does make some areas of the book a bit violent.
As a whole I would say that this novel is a simplistic crime story that lacks the depth of its precursor, The House of Silk. Moriarty is Horowitz’s second attempt at writing a detective story using Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters and it is by far the inferior. However, Sherlock Holmes fans should read it for completeness and as a stand alone work it did grip me while reading it.