Horowitz builds his original “Holmes” novel on what must be an amazingly detailed knowledge of canon Holmes, organized so well that he makes it seem simple. Even though his narrator—Sherlock’s sidekick Dr. John Watson—admits that the present case is unlike any other that he has chronicled; even while he points out the limitations of the type of tidy detective stories represented by Conan Doyle’s work; even while he admits that in real life, the story of a crime does not end when a sleuth deduces who done it; even while the detecting duo explores a darker, drearier side of London life than Conan Doyle ever touched on—nevertheless the personality of this novel’s hero is distinctively “Holmes”.
Alex Rider, Britain’s leading fourteen-year-old spy—more or less James Bond with zits—has survived a lot in only a few fast-paced months. He has been gunned down by an assassin and lived to tell. He has blown up a luxury hotel in outer space. He has even survived a feature-film adaptation that flopped at the box office.