Cover image for The confessions of Mycroft Holmes : a paper chase
The confessions of Mycroft Holmes : a paper chase
Theroux, Marcel, 1968-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt, [2001]

Physical Description:
216 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library

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Damien March hadn't thought of his eccentric uncle for almost twenty years until he received a telegram: Patrick dead. Father. Damien, a journalist for the BBC in London, is even more shocked to learn that he has inherited his uncle's ramshackle house on Ionia, an isolated island off the coast of Cape Cod. Damien's step into a new future means moving circuitously into his family's past. He uncovers letters and writings-scattered clues that shed light on Patrick's solitary life. When he discovers a fragment of an unpublished novel, The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes, the stakes in this paper chase are suddenly higher. Mycroft Holmes, the older brother of Sherlock, is one of literature's most intriguing absences. A neglected genius who lived in obscurity, he bears a striking resemblance to Patrick himself. The parallels quickly grow more disconcerting, and a sinister tale of murder and deception takes on new meaning. Soon Damien finds himself revealing dark and unsettling truths thatshatter his most fundamental assumptions.

Written with warmth and distinctive humor, The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes is at once an engaging mystery and an illuminating story about family secrets and identity.

Author Notes

Marcel Theroux was born in Kampala, Uganda, in 1968. He studied English at Cambridge and international relations at Yale. He worked in television news in Boston and New York, and now lives in London.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Although this tale of a man's investigation into the truth of his family history is written with much shrewd wit and a sensitive eye for the nuances of human failure, it delivers too little, too late. The main thread of the story is promising. Damien March, an American-born BBC journalist, inherits a house from an eccentric novelist uncle in the States. He soon scraps his job and goes to live on his uncle's dilapidated estate on an island off the coast of Cape Cod. Shortly after he moves there, numerous seemingly disconnected events occur. He meets a deaf neighbor and her two children. He is robbed. One of his uncle's eccentric ex-girlfriends comes poking about the estate. Then Damien lays his hands on a box of his uncle's manuscripts. Included in the box is the start of a whimsical mystery to be solved by Sherlock Holmes's wiser older brother, Mycroft. Not so whimsically, this mystery, with its close resemblance in plot and cast to the actual history and population of the island, suggests that Damien's uncle may have killed his deaf neighbor's brutish drunkard husband many years ago. This catalogue of a complex character's past is intriguing, and Theroux's prose is by turns lyrical and elegant, but the buildup to the discovery of the pivotal manuscript is long-drawn-out and tedious. This second novel by Theroux stands as a pleasant but unremarkable follow-up to A Stranger in the Earth, mildly frustrating, mildly entertaining and generally innocuous. (Mar.) Forecast: An East Coast author tour should draw audiences curious about Theroux as a writer in his own right, but also as a literary scion. And if media pick up on the tantalizing parallels with Theroux family history Paul Theroux, Marcel's father, also owns a house on Cape Cod the roman … clef factor may spark sales. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Damien March works for the BBC in London on the night shift. His work is not very challenging, but he has no aspirations to change it. When he receives a telegram from his father, telling him that his Uncle Patrick has died, Damien feels compelled to return to the small island off Cape Cod where his uncle lived and where the March family spent many happy summers. After the funeral, Damien is shocked to find that his uncle has left him almost everythingDwith strings attached. Patrick's house is jammed with collections of oddities, all of which are to be maintained as a perpetual museum to his memory. Damien finds a manuscript, written by his uncle, that is loosely based on Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older brother. As he reads, Damien becomes convinced that he is not reading pure fiction. When Mycroft commits a brutal murder, Damien knows that Patrick is trying to tell him something. But what? And about whom? In his search for the meaning of the story, Damien discovers a family secret that changes his life. Theroux tells this story well; his language is elegant, his characters are genuine and well rounded, and the novel's odd circumstances mix and flow into a very readable whole. This is Theroux's second novel (after A Stranger in the Earth). Recommended.DJoanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island, Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Providence (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.