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Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage (MYCROFT HOLMES) Hardcover – September 24, 2019
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Abdul-Jabbar and Waterhouse's third pastiche (after 2018's Mycroft and Sherlock), their best yet, provides intriguing challenges for both Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes while continuing to present plausible backstories for the brothers. In 1873, Mycroft and his longtime friend and partner, Cyrus Douglas, agree to help Chinese businessman Deshi Hai Lin locate Bingwen Shi, the fiancé of Lin's daughter, Ai, who happens to be an old flame of Mycroft's. Shi, a land investor, disappeared in London en route to a meeting with a client. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Sherlock, who's not yet an encyclopedia of knowledge relevant to detecting crime, gets himself tossed out of college so he can tackle a sensational serial murder case. Someone has killed eight people across Great Britain, leaving near each corpse a note bearing the message "The Fire 411!" That the victims appear to have nothing in common adds to the puzzle. The authors do a stellar job of illuminating the siblings' developing relationship while concocting a clever and twisty plot. Sherlockians will be enthralled. Agent: Deborah Morales, Iconomy. (Sept.)
A third round of Victorian detection and domestic friction for the imperishable Holmes brothers.
If there had been a 24-hour news cycle in 1873, every hour would have been devoted to the Fire 411 killer, whose murders would never have been identified as such if he hadn't insisted on leaving his calling card at each crime scene, a message reading "The Fire 411!" The eight victims to date, ranging from a boy of 7 and a girl of 10 up to a retired barrister in his 80s, have been so marginal that the case wouldn't have enticed Mycroft, addict and sometime foreign agent, if the ninth victim, Elise Wickham, weren't the stepdaughter of Queen Victoria's cousin Count Wolfgang Hohenlohe-Langenburg. In fact, the Count, a bully and a swindler, had already attracted the attention of Mycroft and his Trinidadian friend, Cyrus Douglas, who now must switch gears smoothly from seeking evidence of him to solving his stepdaughter's murder to accommodate the queen. Their novel solution is to farm the case out to Mycroft's younger brother, who's a student at Downing College, Cambridge. Sherlock's eagerness to follow the crooked trail of the Fire 911 killer leaves Mycroft free to oblige shipping magnate Deshi Hai Lin, whose life he saved in Mycroft and Sherlock (2018) and who now, as if he weren't already indebted enough, begs Mycroft's help in seeking and recovering Bingwen Shi, the fiance of his lovely daughter, Ai Lin. The decision to assign each of the feuding brothers to a separate case is great for the family peace, but it soft-pedals a leading attraction of the series and produces enough back-and-forth plotting to put most readers in serious danger of whiplash. Against all odds, the riddle behind the kidnapping turns out to be more interesting, more surprising, and more logical than that of the Fire 411 killer.
All the usual pleasures--blood and thunder, sibling rivalry, historical walk-ons--but no great shakes as a mystery.
About the Author
Anna Waterhouse has sold and/or optioned several scripts, consulted on a feature-length doc for HBO, was supervising producer/co-writer of Netflix/Showtime's On the Shoulders of Giants which won an NAACP Image Award for best documentary, has taught screenwriting at both Chapman University and at U.S.C., and is currently working on a limited series with acclaimed writer Robert Towne.
- Publisher : Titan Books (September 24, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1785659308
- ISBN-13 : 978-1785659300
- Item Weight : 1.25 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.35 x 1.14 x 9.55 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #730,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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It's easy to fall into these books and forget the man who Mycroft Holmes becomes. Arthur Conan Doyle's Mycroft Holmes is described as a better deductionist than his brother, a portly bachelor, an antisocial who helped found the Diogenes Club where no one talks, and someone who walks the same route to work every day. Abdul-Jabbar and Waterhouse's Mycroft began as a sociable and fit young man, optimistic to the extent that he was engaged to be married, and one who pursues his work with enthusiasm and positivity. And it is in remembering Doyle's Mycroft and watching the tragedies, disappointments, and challenges that young Mycroft faces, we see, painful by painful step, how he becomes Doyle's Mycroft. We get to see him develop his hard shell and how that affects his loved ones and his behavior towards them, we see him become more disillusioned. If you're paying attention to all that, it's pretty depressing.
I'd love to dive into how Mycroft becomes more Sherlock-ish, on how he manages his relationship with his brother, on how he mismanages his friendship with Cyrus, but I want you to enjoy it for yourself. As with so many writers who have taken Doyle's work and built on it, Abdul-Jabbar and Waterhouse do justice to Doyle's books and characters, especially with regard to Sherlock's case, but take it one step further by including all the emotions that Doyle shied away from, The telling of these tales also reflects Doyle's practice of ending books when the case ends, not lingering on what happens afterwards to the characters we care for, as the case was never about them.
If you're reading this review, you probably read the first two books. If you enjoyed those, you'll enjoy this.
Two final thoughts: (1) Huan was Sherlock's first Watson. And I love that. (2) Cyrus is a black man living in a white man's world, a notable success in his original career, seeking success in a new field where success is not so easily defined, a thoughtful humanitarian, a firm believer in justice, and well-trained in martial arts. That's Kareem!
Two unrelated mysteries confront the Holmes brothers. A serial killer on the loose in England piques the interest of Sherlock, while the disappearance of his friend (and secret unrequited love) Ai Lin, has been abducted and returned to China. The Queen seeks Mycroft’s assistance in stopping the serial killer, but his priority is to assist Ai Lin, even if it means losing her forever., which works exceptionally well with Sherlock’s desire to perfect his sleuthing skills.
Other great characters have string roles in the story as well. I can’t wait to get to know them better as I read the other books in this series.
There were several passages in MYCROFT AND SHERLOCK: THE EMPTY BIRDCASE that were 'aha' moments when relating them to the works of Doyle. Jabbar and Waterhouse make it very clear that their books revolve mainly around Mycroft, the elder brother to Sherlock. It is Mycroft that has status, and Sherlock, although far from bumbling, has a lot to learn.
It is interesting to read the way that Mycroft and his friend Cyrus Douglas deal with the somewhat blatant bigotry of Victorian London. It is comforting to me to read that the Holmes brothers do not base their friendships on the status conferred upon being white and English.
I am definitely looking forward to a next book in this series that I sincerely hope this dynamic writing dup is writing.