Together with Anna Waterhouse, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar relates a story of Sherlock Holmes' older brother, telling of his first adventure when he was only twenty-three. Mycroft Holmes is an intricately plotted, dramatic account. And, it's marvelous, with the tone of the original stories.
While his younger brother is in college, Mycroft is already making a name for himself as secretary to the Secretary of State for War. He aspires to work for Queen and country, marry his gorgeous fiancée, Georgiana, and settle down in a nice house to raise three children. In appearance, he's the opposite of his brother, well-muscled, good-looking and blond. He may be as brilliant as Sherlock, but Mycroft is much more practical. However, he throws all of his practicality to the wind when his best friend, Douglas, and Georgiana both decide to return to their homes in Trinidad after learning of trouble there. Along the waterfront in Trinidad, people have disappeared. Legend says douens have called to children, and then a lougarou (a giant mosquito) sucked the blood out of them. Mycroft and Douglas plan to sail on the same ship as Georgiana, but, once they board, they never see her. Instead, they encounter unexpected violence, and the beginning of an adventure that neither man anticipated.
The authors introduce Holmes into a world that is far different than the London he knows. And, the young Mycroft's character and future role is defined by his experiences. Georgiana had started to change his opinions. Now, the events in Trinidad do force him to "Look at social inequalities not as curiosities to be catalogued, but as wrongs to be righted." And, Mycroft and Douglas do have wrongs to right, criminal activities that have long tentacles. But, Holmes comes to realize how young he actually is, and that he hadn't encountered true evil before.
It's fascinating to see the build-up of Mycroft Holmes's character. He shares so many traits with his brother, the intellect, the patterns of observation. There's a dry humor in his observations, such as "Given the great number of Adam's spawn in the streets..." But, Sherlock is a loner, a self-centered man. Mycroft wanted to serve the Queen and country, so he went into civil service. And, it's intriguing to read about the relationship between the two brothers in those young years.
Mycroft Holmes is a dramatic account that builds in intensity. There's a menacing atmosphere that permeates the book. With it's complex characters and compelling story, this novel is worthy of every Sherlock Holmes story that preceded it. And, Mycroft proves to be just as capable of deception, cleverness, and action as his better-known brother. Mycroft Holmes is a wonderful debut novel.
Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. Titan Books. 2015. ISBN 9781783291533 (hardcover), 328p.
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