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Mycroft Holmes
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse

Titan Books
25 September 2015 / ISBN 9781783291533

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


Before he became a government eminence grise and founded the Diogenes Club Mycroft Holmes was once a carefree young man. It is 1870 and Mycroft is a junior secretary to the Secretary of State for War. He is deeply in love with Georgiana Sutton and has as his best friend Cyrus Douglas, a man of African origin. Both these people used to live in Trinidad, and when Douglas gets a report about children being enticed to their deaths by spirits Mycroft seizes his chance to go out there. He is following Georgiana who has already gone, but the intrepid pair is going to soon be embroiled in something truly dangerous and unexpected.

Basketball superstar and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been a Holmes fan for years. Now tells the tale of his older, "smarter" brother and how he got to be the way he appeared in the stories. I do hope it is the first in a series, as Douglas makes for a lively and interesting partner to Mycroft, less of a sidekick and more a leading character in his own right. This is a novel with a pair of protagonists, both of whom develop throughout the book. Mycroft changes from a naïve, rather cocksure young buck into a "sadder, wiser man" while the older Douglas who has less to learn certainly gets more than he bargained for. Told in the third person in a very late 19th century style, this is a story that manages to pack in a lot of description as well as plenty of adventure. London, Trinidad and the ship that takes them there come to vibrant life and there are well-written fight scenes to enjoy, meticulous plotting, some surprises and a good underpinning of historical research. Spirits with backward facing feet, Caribbean superstition (no, not voodoo), Chinese martial artists, the boat race and even a brief appearance of a young Sherlock all add flavor to this tale. It isn't a quick read, but one to savor as there is so much to enjoy in it; I even think it would make a thrilling film in the right hands. Due to the current popularity of the Holmes stories I have read several other "pistaches" this year but this is by far the best.

Reviewed 2015