MYSTERY

Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage

Titan. Sept. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781785659300. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781785659317. M
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It’s 1873 and Mycroft Holmes, 27, brother of 19-year-old Sherlock, government minister and confidant of Queen Victoria, has had heart surgery and resigned his diplomatic position. Here, Mycroft and his Trinidadian friend Cyrus Douglas are asked by Chinese businessman Deshi Hai Lin to find his daughter Ai’s missing fiancé. Mycroft is secretly in love with Ai. Meanwhile, Sherlock has dropped out of Cambridge to investigate eight seemingly random murders all over the country with no apparent cause of death. All the victims are marked with notes saying “The Fire 411.” While Sherlock and his bodyguard visit the murder sites of now 11 victims, Mycroft and Cyrus are chasing a Russian arms dealer. When the Queen reveals that one of the murdered is a royal relative, Mycroft and Sherlock reluctantly begin to work together.
VERDICT The third Mycroft tale (after Mycroft and Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes) from coauthors Abdul-Jabbar and Waterhouse is another winner. The Victorian setting is well drawn, the dialog rings true, the period details, both factual and fictive, support a labyrinthine plot including race and class distinctions. It all meshes into a fine tale set prior to the Sherlockian stories we know so well. Highly recommended, as are its two predecessors.

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