Book Shot: 1 on 1 with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Mycroft Holmes

CrimeHQ gets a Q&A with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and you get a chance to win the historical adventure he co-authored, Mycroft Holmes!

CrimeHQ: There's always more research than can fit into one novel. What did you have to leave out and what was your favorite bit of history to include?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: My co-writer, Anna Waterhouse, and I were very specific in our search, so there wasn’t much we had to leave out in terms of the story we were trying to tell. There was, of course, more to tell on just about everything we researched, but it was important to us that the research felt like it was integrated into the plot. The concept of mourning jewelry comes to mind…it’s a very weird custom that was fun to research and that came in handy. But from page one, I have to say that nearly all you’re reading comes from the history books, including the names of the crewmen on the Cambridge/Oxford race, to which cigars were popular in 1870, to the name of the governor of Port of Spain at the time.

CHQ: Sherlockians can be as detail-oriented as any sports statistician. You're a long-time fan and diligent reader of the adventures yourself, but were there any topics or points of canonical contention about which you consulted other Sherlockians?

KAJ: I have the very good fortune of being friends with the ultimate expert on Sherlock Holmes and all things Sherlockiana, and that is Leslie Klinger. (He wrote the two-volume The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes.) I didn’t have to go much further than a phone call.

CHQ: How is Cyrus Douglas different from (or similar to) Dr. John Watson? How does his relationship with Mycroft Holmes and their teamwork compare to “the other guys?”

KAJ: Cyrus Douglas is, in all ways, an equal partner to Mycroft Holmes. He is also the moral and ethical center. What he might lack in sheer mind power (unlike Holmes, he does not have a so-called ‘photographic’ memory), he makes up for in wisdom.  Beyond that, Mycroft Holmes is not a sleuth. He is not ‘Detective Junior’ to his brother Sherlock. He is (or will become) a diplomat and a slightly Machiavellian character. Because of this, his interest (and Douglas’s) has a much bigger, worldwide stage. They are going after corruption at very high levels.

CHQ: Mycroft Holmes has been used in various adaptations as almost a tabula rasa, upon whom can be projected whatever's needed. Are there characteristics of Mycroft drawn from the original stories that you were particularly interested in seeing retained and elaborated?

KAJ: We are extremely dedicated to making sure Mycroft Holmes is the man that Arthur Conan Doyle described. But few people in their mid-40 are still who they were in their mid-20s. And the smarter you are, the more you tend to change as you mature. We are hoping to have the chance to show how the Holmes of Mycroft Holmes eventually becomes ACD’s Mycroft Holmes. We’ve laid a bit of groundwork… but we have a few years to get there.

CHQ: By the time Mycroft is older, he's stolid and prefers to stay in one place, while his younger brother exerts himself to remain athletic and maintain his fighting skills. What physical attributes did you need to grant the young Mycroft to make him a suitably robust adventure hero?

KAJ: We decided on young Marlon Brando versus old(er) Marlon Brando. How does a man who is that physically fit (On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire) become Vito Corleone…and beyond? It’s life. It happens. But, as I said, there are clues in our story that show that his health/psyche are already beginning to be compromised.

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Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse!

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Mycroft Holmes Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at beginning at 4:15 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) September 28, 2015. Sweepstakes ends 4:14 p.m. ET October 5, 2015. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a huge Holmesian—7’2” tall, basketball’s all-time leading scorer, and a U.S. cultural ambassador. He’s written extensively, including What Color is My World (children’s), Brothers in Arms (military history), and On the Shoulders of Giants (black history). 


  1. Margie

    I’ve read a number of novels and seen a lot of TV shows and movies about Sherlock Holmes, but the focus was never on his brother, so this sounds like a great read!

  2. Terrie Farley Moran

    I’ve read a lot about this book and I cannot wait to read it.

  3. Susan Meek

    I’d be quite interested in reading this book. Mycroft always seems to get the short end of the stick.

  4. Louis

    I’ve read that Sherlock had a brother Mycroft, but never read anything about him. Did he exist? Was he as smart as Sherlock? It would be a pleasure to read a novel in which Mycroft is the central character.

  5. Jeff Quest

    Looking forward to reading this one!

  6. Deborah Dumm

    This sounds like a great book. Ican’t wait to read this book!

  7. Nancy Pate

    I’ve always been fascinated by Mycroft Holmes and how various authors and actors have interpreted his life. Love the idea of a young adventurer, especially if he looks like a young Marlon Brando!

  8. MitchellGlavas

    I’ve been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it many months ago. I’m tremendously excited to read it.

  9. Charlee Griffith

    Kareem & Mycroft? A must read!!

  10. Laurence Coven

    I expect this to be an excellent Holmes pastiche as Kareem is not only one of the most intelligent of athletes, but has been a
    SH fan his whole life–so this is a labor of love and knowledge. What would be great, and I suppose very difficult, would be to get a copy signed by Jabbar. Of course it was Robert L. Fish who once referred to a little known case as “The Sound of the Basketballs.”–Don’t think the two are related however.

  11. Joanne Mielczarski

    I love all things Sherlock Holmes and would love to learn more about his brother by reading this book.

  12. Lori P

    I’m betting this book is red meat to many Sherlockians. Definitely the case for me!

  13. Robin L Coxon

    What a great example for young adults to have of Kareem Abdul Jabbar being a writer as well as being a former basketball player. It is interesting to see how Sherlock Holmes has been expanded on in this new release.

  14. Pam Gibson

    The most believable Mycroft story I know, up to now, is Laurie R. King’s creation. I hope the world created by KAJ is equally credible, because I would love to go live in it for awhile. I don’t have a problem with different Holmesian universes; all I ask is that they be completely convincing. This story looks very promising!

  15. Pgreen

    Sounds great! How deeply was Kareem involved in the research and writing process?

  16. Carl Ginger

    In my younger years I read a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories, but do not recall Mycroft. This, along with HOF Kareem’s input looks so interesting. A possible must read!

  17. Sherry Schwabacher

    I can’t wait to read this latest work from one of my favorite people!

  18. Tricia Blount

    I have always been a fan of Sherlock and Mycroft. I love their personalities and stories. 🙂

  19. Joyce the bookaholic

    This sounds like a fantastic new take on Holmes.

  20. Sandra Brown

    Have enjoyed reading the Sherlock mysteries most of my long life. I enjoy the movies, rewrites and even the tv shows. Tickles the brain.

  21. Terry Letsche

    I’ve been enjoying KAJ’s column in Time. I’ve been excited by the excerpts I’ve seen of the book!

  22. Susan Robinette

    I enjoy all things Sherlock, and am looking forward to reading this version of the canon.


    I’ve always been interested in Mycroft and have added this book to my TBR list.

  24. L

    What a great concept, to bring out a story focusing on Mycroft as the main character!

  25. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  26. Sue Alexander Devers

    This sounds like a fascinating book. I would love to win one. Thanks for the chance!!!

  27. Sue Devers

    Thank you for the chance to win–it sounds fascinating!!!

  28. Sally

    It will be interesting to read how Mycroft will differ in his approach to a mystery other then his brother might act.

  29. Nick Graybeal

    I’ve been a Holmesian since 1972, and I like to read anything Sherlock, including Mycroft, of course. To know that Kareem has co-authored a book in this genre is a bonus since I have always been a big fan of his since UCLA. I’ll never forget the Houston-UCLA game in 1968.

  30. Louis Burklow

    Living in Los Angeles, I’ve been hearing a lot about this since the author has a street named for him beside the arena where he played many of his greatest games. It sounds like a great and different way to look at the Holmes universe and I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

  31. Tawney Mazek

    Historical accuracy and Mycroft – sounds like a total winner to me. I would want to read this if it only had one of those two elements. Mycroft has always seemed to have ‘possibilities’ and I’m an unreformed history major.

  32. rs2

    While Mycroft has, of course, been used as a protagonist a few times before, this does sound like an interesting take on the character.

    (Incidentally, does his more famous brother make an appearance in the book?)

  33. Marjorie Manharth

    Would love to find out if Kareem can write as well as his other talents.

  34. Jane Schwarz

    Finding out more about Mycroft from the Holmes saga is a great idea for a novel. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

  35. Terps

    Mycroft is a real mystery to me, I only know Sherlock so I am looking forward to this new series. I would love to win an original copy. Thanks for the opportunity

  36. Patty

    This sounds like a very interesting and fun new series and I look forward to reading it. I would love to win a copy. Thanks for the opportunity

  37. Jeffrey Malis

    Looking forward to reading this… Thank you for the Q&A and the chance!

Comments are closed.