Mycroft Holmes and his friend Cyrus Douglas must work in a race against time to crack the mysterious murders of children by an unknown enemy, in this reinvention of the traditional Doyle novels.
Mycroft Holmes, the elder brother of Sherlock, is something of an enigma in most revivals of the Sherlock Holmes genre, sometimes presented as a portly eccentric gentleman (Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes), and other times as the politically correct, long-suffering part-time caretaker of his younger brother (Steven Moffat’s Sherlock Holmes). It is this inconspicuousness that allows authors Anna Waterhouse and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to create the most unique version of Mycroft yet—a 23-year-old burgeoning politician, in love.
The novel begins with Mycroft dazzling readers with his sharp wit, gambling on the losing Cambridge rowing team and rigging the race so that they ultimately win. We are quickly introduced to Cyrus Douglas, Mycroft’s confidante and owner of his favorite cigar shop, who spends a lot of time being simultaneously bemused and amused with Mycroft’s deductions, and how he wields knowledge as a tool.
Learning that there have been a string of child murders on Cyrus’s homeland of Trinidad, Mycroft attempts to solve this puzzle. He asks his smart and mysterious fiancé, Georgiana, about her thoughts. She is also from Trinidad, and upon hearing this information swiftly departs for the Port of Spain, despite Mycroft’s protests and confusion. The action then begins, as Mycroft resolves to help Cyrus stop the string of killings as well as reunite with Georgiana.
Mycroft and Cyrus board a boat to Trinidad, nearly losing their lives to hired assailants and an unknown enemy who wants them incapacitated, before encountering a sordid affair of entrepreneurs and politicians alike trying to enslave citizens of Trinidad. Along the way, Mycroft and Cyrus must use both their wits and their fists to get them out of sticky situations, each of them nearly dying on more than one occasion.
Whereas Mycroft has historically been seen as a cold, if not antagonistic character to Sherlock, we are exposed to a version of Mycroft that cares very much about his brother and friends, going out of his way to ensure their well-being even if it means putting himself at danger. This tender side of Mycroft does well to humanize his character to us, where his superhuman observational abilities shock us. His character arc is well-defined, and clear enough that we understand how he can grow to become the original character introduced to us by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The story finds its stumbling point in the very thing that makes it stimulating—namely, its complex plot and heavy details. Many different elements are incorporated into the story and are forced to relate to each other in the end. The tangents that our two heroes pursue, from visiting Georgiana’s mother to meetings with various dignitaries in every country they visit, bog down an otherwise fast-paced plot. The ending feels a little too neat, all loose ends conveniently resolved. Despite this, readers are left satisfied with a clever and carefully written story that is surprisingly funny, notwithstanding its heavy topics.
Mycroft Holmes is an engaging read, and a refreshing take on the character and the genre. I recommend it to readers looking for an exciting book filled with action, political intrigue, and history.