This is the story of Mycroft Holmes, older brother to the famous Sherlock Holmes. If you are a fan of Sherlock at all you know Mycroft as the meddling older brother, the suit, the government lackey who is constantly pestering and annoying Sherlock by trying to get him to do things. How do you think Mycroft sees the situation?
This book actually starts before that. Sherlock is still a teenager (possibly early 20s) and living at school and Mycroft is the young Secretary to the Secretary of War starting out his career with his sights set on higher things. He is just as smart as his little brother, but he applies his logic and knowledge in very different ways. Starting with fixing a rowing race between his alma mater Oxford and Cambridge. Well, not fixing it, there was no technical cheating involved. He shows up before the race and rearranges how the rowers will sit so the boat is at it’s ideal weight distribution and gives them tips on how to conserve their energy. He just doesn’t tell anyone other than his friend Cyrus Douglas about these tips and makes a large wager on Oxford to win.
Mycroft is engaged to be married to the beautiful Georgiana, who grew up in Trinidad on a sugar plantation. Cyrus is also from Trinidad, he is a tobacco importer and owns a shop in London (though he gives the impression that the couple who works for him actually own it. It would not be good for business if it were known that a black man owned the shop). They both receive news that is very concerning from their families regarding children being found murdered on the beach. Well, Georgiana receives news; Douglas hasn’t heard anything at all from his family, which is his cause for concern. Georgiana insists she needs to leave for Trinidad immediately, and insists even more strongly that Mycroft cannot go with her, not even as an agent of the government. This makes Mycroft even more determined to help, and convinces Douglas to accompany him in order to investigate. Douglas agrees, even though he is wary about “dragging a white man around” when he’s trying to help his family.
Douglas is great. I am a big Douglas fan throughout the whole book.
It becomes very clear from the moment they get on the ship that the Game is Afoot whether they are ready for it to be or not. It even starts to look like Georgiana may be part of it, either as victim or accomplice. I don’t want to give too much away beyond that. The ride was the fun part for me on this book. Abdul-Jabbar does a great job of capturing the feeling of a Sherlock-eque mystery. There are red herrings, word puzzles, poisonings and clues that are at first disguised by circumstance and differing cultural norms. It works.
Mycroft is a fun main character. He really is kind of the anti-Sherlock in the best way. Where Sherlock is prickly, Mycroft is almost overly friendly. Sherlock almost abhores the government structure, Mycroft sees it as the way to solve the ills of the world. Sherlock sees no need for companionship or marriage, Mycroft is almost giddy at the thought of marrying Georgiana and fantasizes about their kids and the house he’s going to buy. Mycroft is an opened minded, socially advanced man for his time and station, he knows this and he is proud of himself for being so advanced (I liked this detail, it works perfectly and I’m glad they thought to include it). He also cares a lot about his little brother and worries that he won’t be able to get his life together and make a go of it. It’s sweet and realistic. I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series, which at first glance put the two brothers together more, given that it’s called Mycroft and Sherlock.
This is my Remix Square on my Bingo card