How do you prefer your forces of evil type Moriarty?
A diabolical mastermind, a Napoleon of crime ruling over an empire of iniquity, like a spider in the middle of its web?
Or as a washed-up hood with only three henchmen, running a cheap knocking-off shop?
Personally, I prefer Moriarty as a heavily oiled French wreck; fruit bottler extraordinary to the House of Pronk; champion barbed-wire hurdler (until his tragic accident); and male lead in over 50 postcards.
The Daily Mail called it “the finest crime novel of the year”. It ain’t. We’re a long way from Holmes.
It starts off well enough, with Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase and Inspector Athelney Jones at Reichenbach. (He’s fallen in the water!) It turns into a violent, joyless, increasingly tedious potboiler.
Zero wit or invention; lots of people shot in the head or stomach, throat-cutting, with blood spurting all over the place like a Tarantino film.
The “stunning twist” is one of two I expected from the start. (The other – wrong one – was that Athelney Jones would be Holmes in disguise.) You’ve seen it before, done better.