Image of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse via Getty Images
Mycroft Holmes just doesn’t get enough credit. Everyone talks about Sherlock because he’s the most well-known (and the most popular) but Mycroft is every bit as capable as his infamous little brother, if not more so.
Last year, Titan Books sent me Mycroft Holmes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s first novel chronicling the adventures of Mycroft and his Trinidadian friend Cyrus Douglas in the West Indies. Children are turning up dead and there are mysterious backwards-facing footprints in the sand indicating that there may be something supernatural afoot. Mycroft is personally affected by these phenomena because his fiancee Georgiana and Cyrus both have interests and people they care about on the island. Unfortunately, Mycroft must intervene to not only help Cyrus, but to find Georgiana who has left for Trinidad.
What follows is the stuff of many a swashbuckling tale. There are bad guys everywhere, sniveling and conniving villains, betrayal, murder, and assorted intrigues. What makes the stakes even in higher in Mycroft Holmes is the fact that the underlying issue–the driving forced behind the brutality–is slavery and racism. Jabbar and Waterhouse deal with
Jabbar and Waterhouse address the racism of the time bluntly and matter-of-factly. Even in a country as advanced (compared to the United States) as England when it came to race relations, Cyrus and Mycroft have to appear to abide by the racist rules of the day in order to assimilate into society. We learn much about what Mycroft thinks about this which can be slightly distracting as it almost seems like Jabbar and Waterhouse were trying to say not all white Victorians are racist.
While the beginning of the book begins with a terrifying look at what’s going on in the island, the pace does slow back down for the first chapter or two. Because of this, I ended up putting Mycroft Holmes in my backlog of books for a bit while I turned my attention to other books. I am awfully glad that I picked it up again because the intrigue did not stop in subsequent chapters culminating in one hell of an ending.
If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes books then I think you will be pleased by Mycroft Holmes, especially considering his relationship with Cyrus is eerily similar to Dr. Watson and Sherlock’s. Just don’t expect Mycroft’s more famous sibling to make more than a cameo or two.