This novel is a curious thing. Co-written by the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, the book focuses on the little-seen older, supposedly smarter brother of the great detective Sherlock Holmes. However, superfans of the Conan Doyle stories are unlikely to recognize the Mycroft Holmes presented here. Whereas in the stories Mycroft is middle-aged, portly, decidedly single, and constitutionally lazy. Abdul-Jabbar and Waterhouse instead conjure up a 23-year-old just embarking on a promising career in civil service, athletic, adventurous, and most surprisingly, engaged to be married and deeply in love.
On top of all that, the authors quickly divorce Holmes from his more familiar setting, sending him off an a quest to Trinidad, of all places, where he and a Trinidadian expatriate go in search of the facts behind a string of eerie child-murders.
What Mycroft and his friend, the tobacconist Cyrus Douglas, discover in Trinidad is a shocking example of the depths of depravity that human beings are capable of. What ensues is a chase scene right out of a boy’s adventure novel. The conclusion, while suspenseful, is a tad underwhelming, as the plot has wandered down so many side-streets that the through-line has been lost.
Overall, Mycroft Holmes is an interesting experiment, an oddity that nearly works very well indeed. However, to me the central question is whether the novel was helped or hurt by its association with the Holmes family. Granted, I probably only checked this out myself because of the connection, but the title character is so dissimilar to the familiar version that it seems like it would have been easier to fashion a new hero out of whole-cloth. Perhaps then the authors’ interest and research into the history of Trinidad would have shone through instead of coming off as an oddity.