Book Review: A Study in Charlotte

The plot to A Study in Charlotte reads a bit like fan fiction. What if Sherlock Holmes was a girl and Watson was boy who liked girls—and they’re at boarding school together in Connecticut? However, like any good Sherlock story there’s a lot happening between the basic synopsis. And for the record it’s not a female version of Sherlock Holmes, it’s Charlotte Holmes, Sherlock’s great-great granddaughter (or something like that, I might have missed or added a 'great') and the descendent of the original Watson. The books are famous, the families still have some links, and when a Watson and a Holmes end up at the same tiny boarding school it’s inevitable that they become acquaintances if not more. In Jamie Watson’s own words, “We weren't Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. I was ok with that, I thought. We had things they didn't, too. Like electricity, and refrigerators. And Mario Kart.” While I was intrigued by the book my interest did wan around halfway through; I also struggled to reconcile some of the heavier subjects of the book with the youth of the two main characters. When Sherlock Holmes dabbles in cocaine and morphine he’s an adult in 19th century England, when Charlotte faces similar demons she’s a lonely kid who has been sent away to boarding school by her family. Seeing Charlotte through Jamie Watson’s adoring eyes also means we can’t help but see her as he does: brilliant, captivating, but also small and broken. Perhaps it was my own preconception of it as having a fan fiction premise that expected A Study in Charlotte to be a bit lighter, or at least less traumatized feeling. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the characters are really put through trials that would leave well-adjusted adults reeling. Still about a third of a way in, the book hooked me again, with one surprising twist after another I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering how it would be resolved. And things were resolved in the most beautiful fashion, not all tucked away into neat little boxes, all wounds healed and problems fixed, but in the same messy, inventive way the characters persevere through the whole novel. It’s a clever, emotional rollercoaster of a book and upon finishing it I immediately sought out the next two in the series.


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