For The Sunday Times: From boy wonder to Holmes revival

8 May 2013

Imagine the surprise when Anthony Horowitz was commissioned by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to resurrect the bones of the legendary Sherlock Holmes.

Horowitz, along with other teen serialists such as Christopher Pike and RL Stine, has been nourishing the current rising generation of readers.

But a closer look at his career reveals the novelist has as much stake in the crime genre as he does in youth fiction.

Horowitz has been writing novels since 1979, debuting with The Sinister Secret of Frederick K Bower. He became known for his collection of detective books for younger readers, The Diamond Brothers series.

His talents also found their way to the small screen in the form of murder serials like Foyle’s War, The Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

It was in the new millennium, however, that Horowitz became a household name around the world. In 2000 he released the first of his hugely successful Alex Rider books, Stormbreaker, about a 14-year-old boy who becomes a spy for the British government.

Stormbreaker was a triumph for the young adult genre. Not only was it fast-paced and thrilling, but it had a cinematic touch, thanks to Horowitz’s screenwriting background, while the political element showed a clear divide between wrong and right. It captivated its young audience and taught lessons about the world, a balance many authors fail to achieve.

The novel was followed by nine bestselling instalments, which earned the author numerous awards and sold more than 13 million copies worldwide. A prequel to the Alex Rider books, Russian Roulette, is due to be released in October .

Horowitz’s latest offering, Oblivion, is the final instalment in his hugely popular Power of Five series about a group of teenagers with super powers battling those intent on destroying the world.

Stories about teens with superpowers are commonplace, but Horowitz sculpts his plots with skill, making his books stand worlds apart from their competition.

To the delight of fans young and old, Horowitz returned to the world of detective fiction with House of Silk. For the novel, Horowitz stepped into the shoes of Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes books.

It was in House of Silk’s weave of mystery and suspense, however, where the author really made the famous citizen of 221B Baker Street his own. Horowitz can be called the modern Doyle, our age’s master of mystery and suspense.

Whatever comes next for the author, whether it is a crime outing or a young adult fiction novel, we can be sure he’ll keep us on the edge of our seats.

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