You can ask anyone who they think is the world’s greatest detective, and chances are, they would answer with Sherlock Holmes. Ever since he appeared in 1887, he has been solving seemingly impossible mysteries, from both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and many other authors well into this century.
However, if there is one man who can match Sherlock in a game of wits, it’s his elder brother, Mycroft. Described as having abilities of deduction and knowledge to rival his younger brother, Mycroft has always been more of a behind the scenes man than being out in the field.
However, Mycroft is front and center in
, the latest book from NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dodge College Professor Anna Waterhouse.
While the two may seem like an unlikely pair, they initially met when Waterhouse was hired to help fix up the documentary
On the Shoulders of Giants
, which Abdul-Jabbar was producing. Waterhouse co-wrote the script with him, and wound up becoming supervising producer. It went on to win some awards, including the NAACP Image Award in 2013. Based on their work there, the two knew they could work together already.
However, Waterhouse wasn’t a fan of any of the Holmes stories going into the project.
“I didn’t know much about him,” said said. “I read through the canon after I came on board, and got hooked. But Kareem was always a huge fan. He started reading the stories on road trips when he was a rookie in the NBA.”
What drew Waterhouse to the character is how different he was from Sherlock.
“Mycroft is a diplomat, sort of a Machiavellian character,” Waterhouse said. “He’s not a detective per se: he’s not after the individual criminal. He wants to stop crime before it starts. In the Holmes canon, Sherlock says he is sometimes not just in the British government…he is the British government.”
Waterhouse and Abdul-Jabbar wondered what got him started on his path. So, instead of the the 40-something curmudgeon in the Doyle books, they pictured his life at 23.
“It’s when he was still really healthy and full of life and ready for adventure…until heartbreak and evil happenings start wearing him down,” said Waterhouse.
While not much is known about him from the original canon, he’s still a very important character.
“We wanted to start him out early enough that he’s still being ‘formed’ into the person that Doyle eventually tells us he is. But he’s got a long way to go!” said Waterhouse.
As for the writing of the book itself, the two began with an extensive 55-page outline that had all of their thoughts and notes, really laying out the plot. From there, Waterhouse began work on the first chapter before passing it off to Abdul-Jabbar. He worked on it before passing it back to Waterhouse, and so on, making their way through the book one chapter at a time.
As for the plot of the book itself, it takes place with Mycroft Holmes just out of Cambridge University and working for the Secretary of State for War. Even though he’s never been out of England, he has strong ties to the faraway island of Trinidad, the birthplace of his best friend, Cyrus Douglas, a man of African descent, and where his fiancée Georgiana Sutton was raised.
Mycroft’s comfortable existence is upended when Douglas receives troubling reports from home: rumors of mysterious disappearances, strange footprints in the sand, and spirits enticing children to their deaths. When he tells her the news, his fiancée Georgiana abruptly departs for Trinidad. Very upset, Mycroft convinces Douglas to follow her, drawing the two men into a web of dark secrets that grows more treacherous with each step they take.
Fans of Sherlock will definitely enjoy this book, as it is meticulously researched and layered with many easter eggs to the original canon. It’s an origin story that really fits in with the rest of the history, and it’s very highly recommended.