Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

December 29, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. (2014)

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz is our Book Club choice for December and I’m not going to waste a lot of time reviewing it. That’s how irritated I am with this book I abandoned at page 67.

First, there’s this ridiculous font of characters that reminded me of a giggling teenage girl who puts little hearts on her is. Look!


Then there’s the flatness of the style and the easy literary devices: addressing to the reader to go back in time and introduce the plot or describe the characters or make useless detours to add fake life to the prose. I started to roll my eyes from the first page after I recovered from the silly font. The narrator is American, a detective from the famous Pinkerton Agency.

As I sit at my Remington Number Two improved model typewriter (an American invention, of course) et begin this great labour, I know that I am likely to fall short of the standards of accuracy and entertainment that he maintained to the end.

Well, that inspires me. The first part of the sentence seems labored, as an American would spell it and autobiographical for the actual writer. He fell short of fiction greatness and accuracy is an accounting standard, which might be crucial if the point of the book is to earn money. You think I go a bit too far? You need another round of it:

My appearance? Well, it’s never easy for any man to describe himself but I will be honest and say that I could not call myself handsome. My hair was black, my eyes an indifferent shade of brown. I was slender and though only in my forties, I was already too put-upon by the challenges life had thrown my way. I was unmarried and sometimes I worried that it showed in my wardrobe, which was perhaps a little too well worn.

See? Am I mistaken when I say he doesn’t sound like a New Yorker? And compared to Craig Johnson, Horowitz writes like a toddler.

I was still willing to suffer through the banal prose for a good piece of entertainment. But then it got worse when the British inspector from Scotland Yard came into the story. The deciphering of the secret code included in a letter made me groan of frustration. Like we say in French, I threw the sponge away. (I gave up) I’m too old to read a mix of Da Vinci Code and The Famous Five. I’m too busy to waste good reading time on such a book.

So, bye bye Moriarty! Hello Petros Markaris! I’m taking the French leave and going to Athens for Liquidation à la grecque.

If you want to read an gentler review of Moriarty, go to Caroline’s review.


  1. December 30, 2015 at 5:08 am

    Oh good, I’m not the only one who didn’t like this book. 🙂 I’m stuck around the halfway point and can’t convince myself to keep reading. There are too many better books in my queue!


    • December 30, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one. What bothers you? The plot? The style? Both?


  2. December 30, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks for the link. I noticed it because I had so many clicks on the Moriarty post all of a sudden.
    I certainly liked it more than you did but can’t say I remember much by now and the ending was annoying.


    • December 30, 2015 at 10:07 pm

      I’m glad if the link worked.

      I shouldn’t write nasty billets like this one but I was exasperated. Plus I’m confident the writer will never see it and if by great chance he sees it, I doubt he will find it important. I wouldn’t write something so harsh about a book written by a new novelist.


      • December 31, 2015 at 9:57 am

        I know what you mean. I didn’t review a couple of books because I could only have ripped them apart. Sometimes I feel I owe my readers this honesty, sometimes I know it’s more my own taste and then I skip it. Usually I don’t mind doing it when it’s a mainstream novel like this one but wouldn’t do it in the case of a lesser known author. However, I would never write a favorable review of something I didn’t appreciate. I got a review copy a while back and the book was so bad. I told the author via email that I can’t review it because I didn’t like it. Maybe it was hard for him but at least I didn’t harm him. Has this ever happened to you?


        • January 1, 2016 at 2:54 pm

          I decided to review everything, so if it’s a negative billet, so be it. I rarely say that the book is bad. Mostly, I try to understand why it didn’t work for me. Writing the billet obliges me to go farther than just discarding the book.
          This one is an exception, like the dreadful Phoenix and Ashes. This one is bad literature, that’s all. And I can afford to say it because I’m sure I’m not important enough to bruise its writer’s ego.

          I have never been in a position to dislike a book I got as a review copy. In the almost 6 years of blogging I’ve done, I think I’ve taken 2 free books. One was Sleeping Patterns by JR Cook and the other one is Sindbad ou la nostalgie by Krudy. I didn’t take any risk with the second one. The chance of me not enjoying some pre-WWII Hungarian lit is rather thin.
          Lucky me, I liked Sleeping Patterns. I don’t think I could have published a negative review of it, I would have done the same as you and told the writer privately that it was in their best interest that I don’t review their book. Literary ficton is too much work and too personal for the writer to be trashed without thinking twice.

          Anyway, I barely manage to read a book per week as it is, I don’t have time to read in the sole purpose of writing a billet about it. Plus, I’m still a non native English speaker. What’s the worth of a billet by someone who doesn’t fully grap the depth of the language the book is written in?


  3. January 1, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Oh dear. I’ve never read anything by Horowitz, probably because I’ve always thought of him as a writer of children’s fiction. That’s possibly a bit unfair as I’ve never tried him myself….but my goddaughter’s younger brothers loved his Alex Rider books, so that’s the association I have in my mind. What did the rest of your book group make of it?


    • January 1, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Writer of children’s fiction? Ah, that might explain why I thought about Nancy Drew (well, Alice for me because that’s how the Nancy Drew novels have been translated into French) and The Famous Five (Le club des cinq for me, according to the French version)

      Hmm, I’m afraid some of my Book Club mates have read my billet before starting the book and are a bit tempted not to open it at all… Meeting is on Sunday.


  4. January 22, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    What happened on Sunday? What a cliffhanger!

    Caroline did like it much more. I doubt I would; precisely because I like the original Sherlock Holmes stories. I’ve never seen though the point in continuing them. Better to write something new.

    Having read your review, it’s fair to say this isn’t going straight on to my TBR pile…


    • January 22, 2016 at 10:11 pm

      What happened on Sunday? The cheaters had read my billet before starting the book and all but one had decided not to give it a try! The only one who finished it was bored. (how surprising)

      I’m happy NOT to increase your TBR this time. These spin-offs are high risk for the writer and honestly it sounds more like a job to him than literature.


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