Books

The unlikely tale of ‘Mycroft Holmes’

Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, along with Anna Waterhouse, co-authored “Mycroft Holmes,” a tale about Sherlock’s older brother.
Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, along with Anna Waterhouse, co-authored “Mycroft Holmes,” a tale about Sherlock’s older brother. Associated Press file

One of the most unexpected novels to appear this fall is “Mycroft Holmes,” a Victorian thriller starring “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes’ older brother by seven years (Titan, $26, 336 pages; on sale Sept. 22).

Mycroft is 23 years old and freshly graduated from Cambridge University and already is impressing his boss, the secretary of state for war. His best friend, Cyrus Douglas, and his fiancée, Georgiana Sutton, both have ties to the island country of Trinidad. Circumstances lead the trio on a frantic journey there to investigate strange, perhaps otherworldly, goings-on.

It seems like an intriguing twist in the Holmesian pastiche, but what makes it startling is the identity of the author – former NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, now 68. The widely recognized “renaissance man” has been a Holmes fan for decades and teamed with screenwriter Anna Waterhouse to write the novel. His intention was to offer “a perspective (of the British Empire) from the colonies,” he has said. Also, since Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t offer much of Mycroft’s backstory in his 56 Sherlock Homes short stories and four novels, Abdul-Jabbar had room to invent.

Let’s remember that the sports legend has another co-authored book to his credit – his 1983 autobiography, “Giant Steps.”

Battle of the Books

Want to play a game with some local authors?

The inaugural Battle of the Books invites readers to form teams of three to five people, with each team member required to read one of the authors’ books. On the evening of the event, the authors will challenge team members with a quiz regarding the story content and details in their books. Think of it as a literary trivia contest.

The authors are John Lescroart (“The Fall”), Kim Stanley Robinson (“Aurora”), Naomi Williams (“Landfall”), Larry Vanderhoef (“Indelibly Davis”), and Andy Jones and Kate Duren (“Where’s Jukie?”).

To participate, visit the website (www.thedavisstore.com) and register your team by Oct. 12. A list of frequently asked questions will serve as a guide, even helping you find a team of like-minded readers.

The event will start at 6 p.m. Oct. 15 at St. James Memorial Hall, 1275 B St., Davis, beginning with a 45-minute social with wine and bites. The $10-per-person fee will benefit the Hattie Weber Museum in Davis. Co-sponsors are the Davis Store and the Avid Reader. Information: (503) 902-3880.

CapRadio Reads

Yes, these two CapRadio Reads book club events are weeks away, but they will fill fast. Both authors will be in conversation with Capital Public Radio “Morning Edition” host Donna Apidone. The $10 tab covers appetizers and wine. The Capitol Public Radio studio is at 7055 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; registration and tickets are at www.capradio.org/books.

Chef Tony Gemignani, owner of Sacramento’s Pizza Rock, for “The Pizza Bible” (Ten Speed Press, $30, 320 pages), 6 p.m. Oct. 13.

Janis Cooke Newman for “A Master Plan for Rescue” (Riverhead, $28, 336 pages), 6 p.m. Nov. 10.

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe

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