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review 2017-09-10 23:33
Halloween Bingo - Diverse Voices - Breathless
Mycroft Holmes - Anna Waterhouse,Kareem Abdul-Jabbar





Ah, yes, that CloudLibrary thing was just toooooo tempting.  I've been wanting to read this for quite some time, but never think of looking for it when I'm at the library.  When it popped up on the Mysteries page of the CloudLibrary thing, I couldn't resist the temptation.  The Essex Serpent was too boring.


And no, I don't know the author!!!


Okay, let's start with this: I never, ever, ever again want to hear that complaint about Victorian women characters who are acting too far ahead of their time.


If it weren't for people, real life people, living out their visions for a better future, we wouldn't be where we are today.


The fictional Mycroft Holmes, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar envisioned him, was generations ahead of his time, but he wasn't alone.  Neither was Cyrus Douglas.  Neither were those women we writers posit as being ahead of their time.  Charlotte Pitt?  No, not at all.  Someone had to do it.  Why not her?


Mycroft Holmes was a lot to take in.  Maybe too much.  There was sooooo much action -- and frankly, so much killing -- that I got a bit glassy-eyed toward the end. 


I had read most of the Conan Doyle stories when I was in high school or shortly after, then reread many of them in my early twenties.  Mycroft seemed more action and adventure oriented than mystery, but the hints of supernatural were there to be solved, and of course the underlying mystery of just what was going on and why; Sherlock's tales were more cerebral.  Whether the further adventures of Mycroft the character would be different remains to be seen.


The historical and technical details were a bonus, though I suspect they may have also stalled the action for some readers, who of course were free to skip over them if they so desired.


The text was not, however, without errors. (No text is.  Period.)


There were a couple of references to "pants."  One I remember in particular was to Mycroft putting something in a pants pocket.  Though of course written by Americans, both Mycroft and Cyrus Douglas would have spoken the Queen's English, in which pants are underclothes and trousers have pockets.


Then another that was just . . . oops.



The first "black" is unnecessary --  "The velvet that draped its ornate gold frame had once been black. . . ."  No, of course it's not a big thing.  It's nitpicky.  But it's there.  Not quite a Richard Collier penny. . . . but niggling.



Four hundred meters -- well, Englishmen like Holmes and Douglas would have thought in yards, and 440 yards is a quarter mile, so it's not likely they'd have been able to discern a body lying face down at that distance.


There were a few other historical details, some I checked and some I didn't, that might have pulled a reader out of the story.  Of those I checked, only one remained questionable, and it wasn't really important enough to worry about.


What was important was the way diverse history was presented, by a 20th century (mostly) author writing about a 19th century fictional character in the 21st century. 


A few more snippets might be of interest along those lines, especially because the book was written/published in 2015.



From page 53  . . .



From pp. 59-60 . . .





From pp. 89-90 . . .




"Moral insanity" was the common term in Mycroft's time; the suggestion in Mycroft Holmes is that Pritchard's term was synonymous with what we in the 21st century would call psychopathy or sociopathy, though the legal use of the terms is different. 


Fiction can be fun.  It can also have meaning.


A great read.  Slightly longish, but still great.

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text 2017-06-02 04:11
May Reading: Epilogue
Eleventh Grave in Moonlight - Darynda Jones
Mycroft Holmes - Anna Waterhouse,Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

21 books this month.  One DNF.  Lots of 4 star reads but nothing in the 4.5 or 5 star range this month.  Very little non-fiction either, as I'm mostly focusing on BookLikes-opoly.


Of my 4 star reads the one that stand out in my mind were Eleventh Grave in Moonlight  and Mycroft Holmes.


This month I've read 6,262 pages for a total of 31,705 year to date.


A pretty good month overall, just not as terrific as they've been so far this year.  Still I'll take this as a 'bad' month any day!

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review 2017-05-17 03:19
Mycroft Holmes
Mycroft Holmes - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,Anna Waterhouse

The title of this book was the first thing to catch my eye; the second was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's name on the cover as one of the authors.  How can I possibly pass this up?


As an avowed fangirl of Sherlock Holmes, I've learned to stay away from almost all pastiches and mysteries featuring my fictional hero, but his brother... Mycroft makes few enough appearances in the canon that I thought perhaps it might work for me.


I thought wrong.  I've realised reading this book that in my mind Mycroft is a distillation of Sherlock; a purer essence of all the things that make Sherlock so formidable.  Put another way, Sherlock is Mycroft with an added touch of humanity (just a touch).  The canonical Mycroft is only ever found in his home, and in his club.  His club, the Diogenes Club, of which he is a founding member, is described thusly in The Greek Interpreter:


There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. [...] It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubbable men in town. No member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger's Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences, if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. 


So a Mycroft that hares off on a rip-roaring adventure on the high seas with his best friend, in pursuit of the love of his life and fiancee, is rather an anti-canonical Mycroft.  Sure, he has the stunning faculties the Holmes family is renowned for, but he's also a romantic and, even if this book takes place when he's quite young, entirely too social and emotional a creature to truly call himself Holmes.


BUT... boy is this a good story.  In spite of all my grumpiness above, I could not put this book down.  I don't know exactly how accurate it is from a historical perspective, but it certainly felt very, very accurate.  The authors didn't shy away from some of the less savoury aspects of the Victorian age, but thankfully didn't beat the reader over the head with it either.  The atmospheric picture of Trinidad, from balmy weather to superstitious panic felt almost like a character itself. 


I don't want to touch too much upon the plot, because the dawning reveal of the plot is, I think, somewhat central to the success of the book.  Suffice it to say that it's a fitting subject for the Victorian time it takes place in, but probably not one that would immediately come to mind when thinking about Victorian fiction.


There are some rather extraordinary action scenes, especially at the end; extraordinary in the sense that they are wholly unrealistic and require the reader to suspend disbelief, but I suppose from a statistical point of view, it is almost impossible for an adventure mystery written by a man to begin and end without fisticuffs, gunfights and explosions.


If you know nothing about Mycroft Holmes, or can divorce yourself from the canonical Mycroft, definitely check this out if you're in the mood for a fun action adventure.  I truly enjoyed it for that alone, in spite of myself.





Total pages: 336

$$:  $3.00

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review 2016-12-01 20:57
Mycroft Holmes - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,Anna Waterhouse
Is it heretic to say that I prefer Douglas to Watson?

This book looks at Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft in his early salad days, if you can see the Holmes' bros as having salad days. Mycroft's best buddy is Douglas, a black American, and Douglas actually plays a greater role in the story than Watson. The story is a good mix of action and mystery. It also ties in very well with history, so the story itself is largely believable. Sherlock, too, makes an appearance. The only false note is the romantic love interest sub-plot. It isn't the romance, but any reader of Sherlock Holmes will know exactly how it is going to end up.


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review 2015-12-08 19:18
Mycroft by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse
Mycroft Holmes - Anna Waterhouse,Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

So this is all about the young Mycroft Holmes, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. I don’t know enough to comment on the contribution of each author but if the 7ft 2" 68 year old record scoring basketball player is the main writer then hats off to the guy he’s done a pretty good job.


The story is set in 1870, Mycroft Holmes is 23 and proficiently working his way up the ranks in the Secretary of State’s office, it's an interesting period in British history where they had many protectorates and territories around the world and for the main part the story is based in Trinidad.


Sherlock is still at school and we meet him briefly in the library of all places, a snapshot of the brother’s dysfunctional relationship as Mycroft takes his leave before his voyage across the North Atlantic Ocean.


Mycroft has his own Watson on-board, he's not a doctor though, he's a tobacco salesman, best friend and confidante. Cyrus Douglas is a black man living in London. The book shows and doesn't shy away from the attitudes of the time, Cyrus constantly has to act as Mycroft’s servant but Holmes is open minded, indifferent at times and even a little oblivious to the difficulties their friendship harbours.


The story starts with Cyrus receiving word of the heinous murders of children in his families village on Trinidad, that coupled with Mycroft’s fiancé fleeing to Trinidad where her family own a plantation and Holmes is intrigued enough to engineer travel over there for him and Cyrus at the behest of the British government. The use of the words "douen" and "lougarou" give a supernatural feel to the murders, there’s plenty of personal interest and of course Mycroft has his own agenda to pursue.


A long voyage at sea ensues with poisoning, violence and mysteries aplenty. We arrive in Trinidad and the story fairly rockets along, there's pick pockets and drug dens of old keeping the attention and interest. The historical side is impeccably researched culminating in a scheme to revive slavery heralding from the U.S. and surrounding countries. There’s Gatling guns, a marvellous secret society of Chinese Trinidadian martial artists called the Brotherhood of the Harmonious Fist and to cap it all, a gang of different races and people coming together to embark on an invasion of a secret island using crocodile lungs as flotation devices.


The strongest point of the story is the relationship between Holmes and Douglas, echoing Sherlock and Dr Watson, hell it worked for them just a little so why not Mycroft and his friend. Mycroft is quite bright as you would expect, he's also pretty deadly in hand to hand combat, you can get immersed in comparing him to Sherlock but the international flavour steers you in a slightly different direction. There's very much a classic mystery feel about the story with the odd slice of dry British humour, the protagonist is certainly an interesting character it's difficult to give him a completely unique identity as you can't help but attribute some of Sherlock’s ways and manners to Mycroft. That's part of the mystery of Sherlock and it’s almost like an early feel of what shaped the man himself, it is extremely difficult not to talk about the great detective though but all told we have an enjoyable Victorian romp in far off shores with a couple of fascinating characters.




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