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.