Title: A Study in Charlotte
Series: Charlotte Holmes
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary
Publication Date: March 1st, 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Jamie Watson doesn’t want a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his absentee father. But that’s where he is. Another complication, the school is also home to Charlotte Holmes. The other half to his great-great-great-grandfather’s famous duo.
Yes, that Sherlock and Watson. She’s not only inherited his genius but temperament. When a string of Sherlock-esque murders happens at Sherringford, the two are prime suspects and overcome their tense energy. No where is safe, and they must trust one another to solve the case and stay alive.
I’ve never read the books, but I absolutely adore the telling of Sherlock stories. That’s exactly why I picked up A Study in Charlotte. Between the television show and movies, I’ve become pretty well versed in the characters and have developed a fondness for them. It was no different when it came to this book. Sure, we’re in the twenty-first century and the characters aren’t exactly the legendary duo of Sherlock and Watson—they’re their great-great-great-great decedents—but the habits and personality are there enough that they reignite that fondess while also being their own people, not just copies.
I also loved that Sherlock was a girl—just saying.
Going into this book, I actually expected her to be the narrator. I don’t know if I didn’t read the description carefully or not at all, but Jamie Watson is actually our narrator. I haven’t read a book solely from a boys perspective in a while. It was an adjustment at first, getting use to his style and personality, but the more I read the more I softened to Watson and understood why the story needed to be told from his perspective. I mean can you imagine the story being told by a Holmes? It wouldn’t be an enjoyable read. Also, Cavallaro’s writing makes it particularly easy to get into. She’s not overly flowery with her prose, everything is pretty crisp and straightforward, but at the same time her writing is beautiful and really leaves you turning each page wanting more.
Watson fits pretty in character with his ancestor, he’s the less observant but still useful partner to Holmes, that has a streak with the ladies, and a temper that lands him in a handful of physical situations. But, at the same time, Jamie is a kind, relatable, and confused at times—especially when trying to figure out his relationship with a female Holmes—and it was just really endearing.
Speaking of Ms. Charlotte Holmes, I loved her. I think the gender swap of Holme’s qualities work really well, especially because she’s kind of a female character that you never get to see a lot. She’s bossy, scientific, cool and calculating, an addict, and honestly a bit rude but it’s great.
Normally these characteristics don’t get assigned to women, or if they do they’re perceived negatively and the character is bitch, but she’s a Holmes and while I definitely got frustrated at times, I couldn’t help but love her. Especially because like all Holmes’, she has a soft spot for Watsons. Like their friendship is so dang cute. You can tell Jamie cares so much, but is also confused by her, and while she’s cool and calculating you know Jamie is her person.
Ah, the Holmes and Watson dichotomy is great.
“The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.”
My only thing was her drug problem. She and everyone that wasn’t Watson in her life was so flippant about it. I know it’s a Holmes’ thing, but she was doing pretty hardcore stuff for being so young. I probably would’ve been fine with Cavallaro taking the intensity of the drugs down a notch, like pick something a bit softer.
Onto the plotline of solving crimes, basically there’s a killer out on the duo’s campus that is murdering people in the fashion of the old Sherlock Holmes’ stories and Holmes and Watson are suspects. I wish these scenes were a little bit more in-depth in regards to the mirroring of their relations adventures, I just think Sherlock crimes are so unique and facinating. But, overall I loved the process of the team sneaking out and working in Charlotte’s lab, obviously teens going around solving murders isn’t real but it was written in a way that it was beleivable for these characters.
Quick side note, I loved Jamie’s dad. He was just so into the idea of Holmes and Watson being friends and was like all pumped about them solving dangerous crimes. He had no cares. He was so entertained.
Possibly one of my favorite things about this book, is while it appears to be part of a series—which I was worried about getting involved in any more unfinished series—you can definitely read it and be satisfied with the ending. There’s no huge cliffhanger or anything like that, and while I would definitely pick up the next book, I don’t feel like the first one ended on a like note of “I need it now.”
A truly fun mystery for Sherlock fans—and even not fans—A Study in Charlotte is available on Amazon and you can find the author at brittanycavallaro.com. Give it a read and let me know what you think in the comments. Plus leave recommendations for my next book!