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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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review 2015-09-07 03:48
A great new entry into Sherlock Holmes' world
Mycroft Holmes - Anna Waterhouse,Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

I am a long-time Holmesian, and I love to see what different authors do with the spin-offs. Some are better than others, of course ... and this is one of the best.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, himself a long-time Holmesian, has made Mycroft Holmes his main character in a story about human trafficking during the late 19th Century. With his friend Cyrus Douglas, a free Black gentleman business owner, he goes to Trinidad to investigate disappearances in Douglas' home town ... and becomes embroiled in intrigue at all manner of levels.

Abdul-Jabbar's authorial voice is entertaining, and it's obvious from this work that he takes the Doyle canon very seriously. He gives us a backstory that explains Mycroft's solitary ways in the Doyle canon, and also lets us in on the earliest days of his career in the service of the Crown.

The book is chock-full of entertaining characters, intriguing situations, and great historical detail.

Highly recommended.

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