How do you heal from gas light

Sherlock Holmes : Horror in the gas light

Sherlock Holmes is dead. The master detective was found “lifeless and silent” in his house. This is what his chronicler John Watson reports when, after the death of his friend, he finally finds the courage to write down those events from the winter of 1890 which he says "could tear the entire fabric of society apart."

British author Anthony Horowitz prefers his Sherlock Holmes novel with grandiose words. What's "too outrageous and shocking to be printed"? And of course there is no such potent explosive hidden in this book as that the social cement of Great Britain would be seriously in danger, but a story that can shake even hardened readers lastingly.

"The Secret of the White Ribbon" is the name of the novel that the rights administrators of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate have officially recognized as the 61st case of the most famous detective in literary history. An honor that has not been bestowed on any of the countless epigones of the Sherlock Holmes inventor.

The title is well chosen because it not only brings back memories of the original Holmes adventure "The Speckled Ribbon", but also of Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon", that film about destroyed childlike innocence.

The story begins classically when the gallery owner Edmund Carstairs enters the premises at 221b Baker Street. The man feels threatened. He tells of stolen paintings, of a gang of gangsters from Boston, of a man who is chasing him. Sherlock Holmes begins the investigation and appears to be almost there when one of the street children he had set up to monitor a suspect is found murdered. Legs and arms broken, the throat slit, a white silk ribbon on the arm.

This is where it gets exciting because Horowitz, who has made a name for himself as the author of the TV crime series “Inspector Barnaby” ​​and the youth book series “Alex Rider”, no longer just moves Arthur Conan Doyle's well-known props back and forth, but also Bringing a little misery into his story, a misery reminiscent of Charles Dickens. Next to the wood-paneled clubs are the dirty crash bars in which the underage employees live in shacks, and next to the country estates of the nobility are the barracks-like orphanages. Contrasts, which the actor Johannes Steck knows how to interpret in a multifaceted way in the audio version published parallel to the book.

Of course, much of this nested and multilevel case is constructed, but Anthony Horowitz moves the plot forward quickly and creates a captivating scenery. His story is even more convincing because it not only describes a crime, but also makes the accompanying irritation tangible - when the incomprehensible breaks into the supposedly healthy everyday life.

All the cabs, gas lamps and the good manners of the staff for a long time lull the reader into the deceptive certainty that in the worst case scenario he will face murder out of greed or jealousy. When things turn out differently, the shock is even greater. You have to imagine it as if Ernie and Bert were suddenly being tortured on "Sesame Street".

Anthony Horowitz has achieved far more than just another appreciation or precise imitation of Arthur Conan Doyle's character. He modernizes a myth. Sherlock Holmes is alive.

Anthony Horowitz: The secret of the white ribbon.

Novel. From the English by Lutz-W. Wolff. Insel Verlag, Berlin 2011, 350 pages, € 19.95

Audio book. Read by Johannes Steck. Goya Lit / Jumbo New Media, Hamburg 2011,
4 CDs, € 17.99

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page