Abdul-Jabbar and Waterhouse’s third pastiche (after 2018’s Mycroft and Sherlock), their best yet, provides intriguing challenges for both Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes while continuing to present plausible backstories for the brothers. In 1873, Mycroft and his longtime friend and partner, Cyrus Douglas, agree to help Chinese businessman Deshi Hai Lin locate Bingwen Shi, the fiancé of Lin’s daughter, Ai, who happens to be an old flame of Mycroft’s. Shi, a land investor, disappeared in London en route to a meeting with a client. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Sherlock, who’s not yet an encyclopedia of knowledge relevant to detecting crime, gets himself tossed out of college so he can tackle a sensational serial murder case. Someone has killed eight people across Great Britain, leaving near each corpse a note bearing the message “The Fire 411!” That the victims appear to have nothing in common adds to the puzzle. The authors do a stellar job of illuminating the siblings’ developing relationship while concocting a clever and twisty plot. Sherlockians will be enthralled. Agent: Deborah Morales, Iconomy. (Sept.)
A third round of Victorian detection and domestic friction for the imperishable Holmes brothers.
If there had been a 24-hour news cycle in 1873, every hour would have been devoted to the Fire 411 killer, whose murders would never have been identified as such if he hadn't insisted on leaving his calling card at each crime scene, a message reading "The Fire 411!" The eight victims to date, ranging from a boy of 7 and a girl of 10 up to a retired barrister in his 80s, have been so marginal that the case wouldn't have enticed Mycroft, addict and sometime foreign agent, if the ninth victim, Elise Wickham, weren't the stepdaughter of Queen Victoria's cousin Count Wolfgang Hohenlohe-Langenburg. In fact, the Count, a bully and a swindler, had already attracted the attention of Mycroft and his Trinidadian friend, Cyrus Douglas, who now must switch gears smoothly from seeking evidence of him to solving his stepdaughter's murder to accommodate the queen. Their novel solution is to farm the case out to Mycroft's younger brother, who's a student at Downing College, Cambridge. Sherlock's eagerness to follow the crooked trail of the Fire 911 killer leaves Mycroft free to oblige shipping magnate Deshi Hai Lin, whose life he saved in Mycroft and Sherlock (2018) and who now, as if he weren't already indebted enough, begs Mycroft's help in seeking and recovering Bingwen Shi, the fiance of his lovely daughter, Ai Lin. The decision to assign each of the feuding brothers to a separate case is great for the family peace, but it soft-pedals a leading attraction of the series and produces enough back-and-forth plotting to put most readers in serious danger of whiplash. Against all odds, the riddle behind the kidnapping turns out to be more interesting, more surprising, and more logical than that of the Fire 411 killer.
All the usual pleasures—blood and thunder, sibling rivalry, historical walk-ons—but no great shakes as a mystery.
"Abdul-Jabbar and Waterhouse’s third pastiche (after 2018’s Mycroft and Sherlock), their best yet, provides intriguing challenges for both Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes while continuing to present plausible backstories for the brothers....The authors do a stellar job of illuminating the siblings’ developing relationship while concocting a clever and twisty plot. Sherlockians will be enthralled."
-Publishers Weekly Starred Review
"All the usual pleasures—blood and thunder, sibling rivalry, historical walk-ons…”
"The third Mycroft tale 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...Highly recommended, as are its two predecessors." -Library Journal Starred Review
“The Mycroft books are notable for...creating deep characters who would have been largely ignored or nonexistent in the actual literature of the age: characters of color” - CrimeReads
“The third novel in this cunning series...just might be its best...This fast-paced installment is filled with rich and intriguing character backstories and period details that Sherlocks fans will love.” - Barnes & Noble Best New Mysteries
"Abdul-Jabbar and Waterhouse capture the flavor of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian London and his characters to a tee." - BookPage
"Thoroughly entertaining mystery, with great appeal for Holmesians, in particular, and fans of Victorian mysteries, in general." -Booklist
“With a diverse and colorful cast of characters, and two very challenging crimes to solve, The Empty Birdcage is a delightful telling of the relationship between a pair of siblings destined for greater things, while giving some insight of why they become the way they are later in life.”
-New York Journal of Books
"The third book in this superb series again provides an elegant writing style with a captivating mystery. Don’t you love abstruse clues left by a serial killer that only geniuses like the Holmes brothers could decipher?" -Otto Penzler, editor of The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories
"Could one have ever imagined Sherlock Holmes without Watson? There is a new partnership afoot, of the pre-Watson, young and energetic Holmes brothers. This volume continues the initial pairing of Mycroft and Sherlock to our complete delight." -Michael F. Whelan, president of The Baker Street Irregulars
“Another important chapter in the secret, thrilling lives of the brothers as they become Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes! I hope we see many more from the brilliant team of Abdul-Jabbar and Waterhouse!”—Leslie S. Klinger, editor, New Annotated Sherlock Holmes
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse’s crackling international intrigue Mycroft & Sherlock - The Empty Birdcage re-animates Conan Doyle's world and makes it their own. Their portrait of Mycroft Holmes, his best friend Cyrus Douglas, the Trinidad born tobacco merchant whose race means he is in a kind of perennial disguise, and Mycroft’s younger brother Sherlock broadens the lens through which the world of crime is seen. Through a parallel series of mysteries that stretch from the quiet English countryside to the London docks, the landing stage for a world in violent transition, KAJ and AW bring to the foreground the voices of those whose stories have too long been footnotes and now take their place in the complex, historically vibrant page-turner.
- Walter Mosley, NY Times Best-Selling Author & Edgar Award Grandmaster Recipient
“What began as a remarkable standalone in Mycroft Holmes has become a series eagerly anticipated by not only the Sherlockian community, but lovers of well-executed historical fiction in general” - Criminal Element
“In the third adventure, MYCROFT AND SHERLOCK: The Empty Birdcage, Abdul-Jabbar and Waterhouse are at the top of their game” - Reviewing the Evidence
“Our authors absolutely shine in the way they hint at the canon they’re writing towards with this series” - The Frumious Consortium
"Waterhouse and Abdul-Jabbar deliver a satisfying one-two punch." - San Francisco Book Review
"Nicely done, with style and substance." - Sherlockians and Doyleans
“an impressively researched prequel...tracing Mycroft Holmes’s journey from virile young bachelor to sedentary brain in a jar remains as riveting as ever” - CrimeReads Year in Sherlock
"Brilliantly written and intricately plotted" -Ellery Queen Magazine
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.—Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale