Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse

Being a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes mysteries, I am always curious as to who else enjoys the stories as I do. I know literary lovers run the gambit and come from every walk of life but sometime I come across one that surprises me. Imagine my surprise when I learned that famed NBA basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was penning his own Holmesian mystery! We often forget that he is a UCLA graduate as an English/History major. With this book however, he proves aptly to never judge a book by its cover.

Mycroft Holmes is fresh out of Cambridge University. At the young age of twenty-three the elder Holmes brother is quickly making a name for himself in the British government. However as much as he loved Queen and country; a part of him is tied to Trinidad. It is the birthplace of Cyrus Douglas, Mycroft’s good friend and confidant, as well as the place where Georgiana Sutton, Mycroft’s fiance, was born and raised.

When troubling news of strange disappearances and mysterious footprints in the sand reach their ears, Georgiana abruptly leaves for Trinidad. Fearing for her safety, Mycroft convinces Douglas to follow her and the two men quickly set off in pursuit. Yet when they reach Trinidad and begin looking for Georgiana, they soon learn that not everything is as it seems. A dark web of secrets ensnares them and becomes more deadly the closer they get to the truth.

Mycroft Holmes is a fresh take on the Sherlock Holmes canon. The character himself appeared in only four of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, leaving readers and fans a great deal of leeway in regards to Sherlock Holmes elder brother. Abdul-Jabbar seizes the opportunity to flesh out this intriguing character and he does it incredibly well.

It is quite clear that Abdul-Jabbar is not only a fan of the original Conan Doyle mysteries but that he did his research as well. Mycroft says how he spent a few summers studying with a Dr. Joseph Bell as a young man; knowledgeable readers will know that Conan Doyle studies with Dr. Bell and it was he who was the original inspiration for the character of Sherlock Holmes. Great research was also done for the different locations, from Victorian London to Trinidad of that same time. Great care is given in describing the locales and makes it easy to imagine being there.

I did find the book a tad slow in the beginning and as such had to almost force myself to continue reading. The action did however begin to pick up and once it did I found the book difficult to put down. Once it hit its stride, the story made great leaps and bounds before coming to a satisfying conclusion. There were a few moments where the reader might have to suspend belief as little more than usual, but I found that rare.

The stories of Sherlock Holmes have thrilled readers for over a century now and during all that time his elder brother Mycroft was often left in the shadows. In Mycroft Holmes, he is given a chance to shine and he does with aplomb. Fans of Conan Doyle should definitely give this one a read because it gives a very plausible backstory to a most fascinating and overlooked character.

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