Friday, April 29, 2016

Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse, Mycroft Holmes (2015)

Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse, Mycroft Holmes
Titan Books; 2015
ISBN 978-1783291533

Sherlock Holmes' older (and smarter?) brother gets his own book.  It's 1870, he's 23 (and Sherlock is in his first year at University), and newly engaged to Georgina Sutton.  Mycroft works at the Foreign Office, as a private secretary to the Minister of War (a testimony of the regard in which he is held); his one extravagance is smoking the Cuban cigars imported by his friend Cyrus Douglas (a native of Trinidad).  Holmes learns, through Douglas, that a startling number of children have died on the island, and not of natural causes.  Georgiana's family lives on Trinidad, where they own a sugar cane plantation, and she is shocked by the news, coming as it does just as she is planning a trip home to tell her parents of her engagement. 

Holmes tells her of his plan to go as well, to investigate this strange outbreak of death unofficially for the War Office.  Both getting there and being there are more dangerous than Holmes had expected, and Georgiana is (apparently) not on the ship on which she had planned to sail.  Even more complications ensue.  For about the first 2/3 of the book, the pace of the story is fairly leisurely, even if it does incorporate a fair amount of violence.  The last third moves more swiftly, and the conclusion has its satisfactory and unsatisfactory aspects for the protagonists. 

For a first book (for both authors), it is a creditable job.  But it is clearly a first book.  The pacing is an issue there are several scenes that could easily be shortened or omitted), and I often felt that it would have worked better as a first-person (Holmes) narration rather than as a third-person.  Mycroft's intellect is well-displayed, even if some of his conclusions (which are treated as real surprises by Douglas--and others--seem routine deductions.    If there is a sequel I will read it with interest.

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