Mycroft and Sherlock, the new novel by NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with an assist from screenwriter Anna Waterhouse, sees the Holmes brothers in their first joint investigation, which involves a series of brutal murders, cryptic Chinese glyphs and the opium trade. But what’s even more entertaining is watching the Holmes brothers try to outdo each other with their deductive reasoning.
Mycroft, at age 26, already works in Her Majesty’s War Department, while Sherlock, just a month shy of his 19th birthday, is still engrossed in his studies. When Trinidad businessman Cyrus Douglas—Mycroft’s own Watson—seeks Mycroft’s assistance in investigating a shipwreck, Mycroft enlists Sherlock to tutor children at Douglas’ orphanage. Sherlock easily bonds with the orphans by regaling them with his incredible mental acuity, and he is shocked when one of the children, Charlie Fowler, dies from an apparent drug overdose. With the help of other orphans—in a sort of precursor to Sherlock’s later use of street urchins through the Baker Street Irregulars—he traces Charlie’s involvement to a Chinese opium operation.
At the same time, a series of brutal murders has rocked the Savage Gardens area of London, where seven victims—six Chinese men and one white man—have been found. Both Holmes brothers are drawn to the murders and begin to piece together clues that will ultimately intersect.
As engrossing as the plot is by itself, Abdul-Jabbar ups the emotional quotient when Dr. Joseph Bell—Arthur Conan Doyle’s real-life inspiration for Sherlock Holmes—informs Mycroft that he has a fatal heart condition.
The novel is the second in Abdul-Jabbar’s Holmes series, but it’s the first time that Sherlock plays an integral role in the story. The author clearly has fun with the tit-for-tat deductive prowess displayed by each brother, while developing a sibling rivalry that will linger throughout Sherlock’s adult career.
Readers will find plenty of reasons to celebrate this latest Sherlockian adventure.