I am woefully behind in both reading and reviewing. It is taking me FOREVER to read these days and when it takes weeks to read something I have zero interest in reviewing it right away. So, here I am, ages after reading this book, trying to come up with 250 words to say about it. KimMiE posted a great review in February, and I strongly suggest skipping this and just reading hers. Seriously.
No stranger to Sherlock Holmes re-tellings, I have often mentioned in other reviews how much I enjoy them more than the source material. Doyle built a house with good bones but then filled most of the rooms with unnecessary furniture. Other authors have just written it better. Riffing off of Doyle’s hyper-intelligent, slightly off kilter detective with mad deduction skills has resulted in some very good books. The Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas and Alexis Hall’s The Affair of the Mysterious Letter come to mind immediately.
Imagine my surprise when I kept reading about Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s foray into the wonderful world of Sherlockian storytelling. A man who I initially thought was one of the Harlem Globetrotters (because the entire scope of my basketball knowledge begins and ends with Scooby Doo episodes) co-wrote a novel centering on Sherlock’s brother Mycroft? I had to check it out. (Turns out he WASN’T a Globetrotter but he WAS in a Scooby Doo movie so there’s that.)
Sherlock is only briefly touched upon in this first book in the series. It’s Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft, who is using his super sleuthing skills here. Mycroft’s fiance, Georgiana, leaves London for her family’s plantation in Trinidad after several strange child murders occur on the island. Worried for her safety, Mycroft enlists his friend Cyrus Douglas, who was born in Trinidad, to help him find her. What follows is an engaging story full of seasickness, onboard thugs, secret Chinese societies, and lots of fisticuffs. Shenanigans aside, the plot circles around a very ugly business that gives Mycroft a long hard look at his societal peers and brings his own privilege into stark relief.
Fleshing out Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft, who is often presented as a stuffy government bureaucrat as far as I can remember, was a new angle that I appreciated. Getting the tiniest glimpses of young Sherlock under Mycroft’s tutelage was interesting as well. Honestly, though, I found this novel’s “Watson”, Cyrus Douglas, to be more intriguing. Here, Douglas was not just used as a foil like so many “Watson’s” before him. His outspoken exasperation when Mycroft pontificates was a refreshing change from his predecessors. I didn’t have to eye roll on my own. Douglas was right there with me.