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
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.