Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his partner in crime novels Anna Waterhouse made it to my 'authors I must read' list when I was less than halfway through their first novel, MYCROFT HOLMES. They have embraced the Holmes saga and made it their own by bringing to light the early years of Mycroft and his younger brother Sherlock. Although these are not the first books Jabbar has written (he has quite a few to his name), they are his first attempts at fiction. In an interview that you can find on You Tube, he explains why he sought a collaborator. He needed someone to complement his ideas with dialog. As a screenwriter, Anna Waterhouse fit the bill perfectly. Their collaboration speaks for itself.
Anyone who reads or watches the tales of Sherlock Holmes are familiar with his brother Mycroft despite being the enigmatic figure who prefers to go unnoticed as he wields his brilliance in the back rooms of state. The recognized quirks of the brothers Holmes are well established in the tales of Arthur Conan Doyle, and we accept them at face value without speculating too much upon their origins.
The original images provided of Sherlock Holmes came to us from Sydney Paget. From these we get our first glimpse of the man in the deerstalker hat, the man smoking his pipe, and also a portrait of a portly Mycroft. (Google is your friend!) Now, for the first time, we can get a picture of the brothers as young men still finding their place in the world.
MYCROFT AND SHERLOCK takes place two years after MYCROFT HOLMES so Mycroft is now 26 and Sherlock just shy of his 19th birthday.
To succeed, a Holmes tale must be carefully crafted. Every item, no matter how small, must ultimately be linked to the solution of the case. In MYCROFT AND SHERLOCK, it was also necessary to point to the habits and characteristics for which the two men would eventually become known. Doing this reveals the spark of genius behind these books.
Without going into detail, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't make mention of the rather strict social aspects of Victorian England. Those of us drawn to reading about this era know it as a time of great forward movement in science and technology and of immense disparity between the classes. The Holmes brothers are the perfect example of the difference between class hierarchy and personal relationships. Human beings can intellectually 'know their place' while at the same time break out of those confines to find lasting friendships anyone and everyone.
MYCROFT AND SHERLOCK deserves a place of honor in your collection of tales by those of Arthur Conan Doyle. It does, in some ways, surpass even the originator of the Holmesian myth.