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.