Saturday, October 12, 2019

"Mycroft and Sherlock" by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse

What kind of week have you had?  I've had the kind where I finished this book last weekend, but haven't had a minute to review it until now.  As in, we had to go somewhere and do something every single day.  Sigh.  I'm an introvert AND a homebody, and I just... am tired!

Happily, this coming week has only one day where I have to go somewhere at a specific time.  Whew.  I'm so relieved.

Even more happily, this book is AWESOME.  As in, best Sherlock Holmes pastiche I've read in a long time by someone other than Laurie R. King.  I'm kinda picky about my Sherlock Holmes portrayals (okay, VERY picky about them), but this one pleased me so much!  It focuses more on Mycroft than Sherlock and is definitely the most relatable portrayal I've seen of the elder Holmes brother in basically forever. 

I was a little worried about Sherlock himself at first because he's very young here, still a university student, and I thought at first he had too much, um... emotional fervor, maybe?  A little too reckless?  Too moody?  Too much like the Benedict Cumberbatch version and too little like the Holmes of the canon?  (Don't get me wrong -- I love BC as Sherlock, but he's not the Holmes of the canon, and this is supposed to be.)  But as I read on, I could see how the authors were contrasting that with who he would eventually become with who he is as a young adult, how things he experiences at this point help mold and shape him into the mature Holmes we meet in Doyle's stories.  By the middle of the book, I was fully accepting of this portrayal, especially as we spent more time in Sherlock's point of view.

(From my Instagram account.)

One of the things I liked best about this book was how CLEAN it is!  There are zero cusswords.  There's no sex.  There are quite a few mentions of violent crimes, some of them extreme, but we don't get detailed accounts of how that violence occurs, we see its aftermath or hear someone's remembrance of it.  The violence we do see is street-fights and things of that sort.  The plot centers around a series of corpses that have been cut into four parts and mutilated, but they don't go into great detail about them, just say which body parts were cut off, using phrases that Victorian gentlemen would use, if that makes sense?  It never seemed icky or gratuitous to me.

But there's a lot of talk about drug use, about how opium and its derivatives are totally legal at that time, very common, and how they can destroy people's lives.  The murders are linked to the opium trade, and there's a lot of discussion about the drugs and about characters in the story who have used them, including children.  I learned some really interesting historical things from this, and it was intriguing from a Sherlockian perspective since we know that by the time of the canonical stories, he was using cocaine recreationally, though Dr. Watson did eventually help him overcome that habit.  But here we already see the seeds planted for how he would be able to encounter and acquire the drug, as well as why it was kind of treated as not a huge deal within the canon.

Anyway, I picked this up on a whim at an airport bookstore and ended up liking it so very much that I'm excited that it's actually part of a series!  This is book two, and I've put in a request at my library for the first book.  They have the third one too.  I hope they're as good as this one!  If you're a Holmesian, definitely give these a try.

Particularly Good Bits:

The poor seemed to be not so much gathered under its eaves and upon its stoops as cast off like crumbs from a stale loaf (p. 184).


"Perhaps you might practice, instead of sullen stubbornness, a certain detached amusement," Douglas went on.  "The two perspectives are related, in that they both think less of other human beings than might be warranted.  But, whereas detached amusement is tolerable, sullen stubbornness is not.  Oh, people will still find you arrogant, but they will not be quite so insulted from the start, and some might even be strangely charmed" (p. 252).

...since trying to find Sherlock when he did not wish to be found was a fool's errand, Mycroft preferred to be alone in playing the fool (p. 371).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for the aforementioned drug use and violence.  No cussing, no smut.

10 comments:

  1. Great review! Would definitely like to read this.

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  2. Ahhhhh, I would LOVE to read this book!!!

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    1. MEM, I hope you can find a copy, then! I'm really looking forward to reading the first one.

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  3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar co-wrote a book? And a Sherlock Holmes one at that? I was hoping you'd talk a little about that, if they say anything on the dust jacket about what led him to write this, if he was a Sherlock Holmes fan, or what. That's quite fascinating! Sounds like a fun book to read!

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    1. DKoren, actually, he's written like a dozen books since retiring from basketball! He's had several NYT bestsellers, including this one iirc. Some non-fiction, some fiction. Some for adults, some for kids. The bio on him just said he was literally a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and loved getting to write new adventues about the Holmes brothers.

      Anna Waterhouse is a screenwriter, and this definitely felt paced like a film.

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  4. I need this one, it sounds so good.

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    1. Skye, it IS! Hope you can read it at some point.

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  5. This sounds great, especially as I am quite taken with Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Thanks for the tip and the review!

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    1. PioneerGirl, I've got the first book in this series from the library right now, and am really enjoying it so far too! It's all about Mycroft, though -- Sherlock has only been mentioned in passing so far.

      I do like Cumberbatch as Sherlock. Especially the eps where they're modernizing actual cases from the canon -- those generally delight me.

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