Original Release Date:
March 1st, 2016
Date I Read The Book:
My Star Rating:
First In a trilogy.
The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.
From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.
My Review: (Vague Spoilers)
Sherlock Holmes is one of the most well known characters of literature, the subject of countless remakes and adaptations.
This is one of them.
The title: A Study In Charlotte is an allusion to the first Sherlock Holmes novel: A Study In Scarlett.
The premise of the story is that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson were real people, and that, now, roughly 200 years later, their descendants, Charlotte Holmes and James “Jamie” Watson meet.
Here we get the best of two worlds: A YA contemporary, murder-mystery, and all the Sherlock Holmes allusions anyone could ask for.
The mystery is one that leaves us guessing right along with Jamie (who is the narrator), as they try to solve the mystery of who murdered their classmate, made more intriguing by the fact that the killer is re-enacting old Sherlock Holmes stories (which in this universe actually were written by John Watson).
Before meeting at the same boarding school (when they are held as the prime suspects of the murder), Jamie and Charlotte had never met, their families having grown apart, though both of them parallels of their ancestors: Charlotte is quick-witted and socially stupid while Jamie is fond of story writing and prone to letting his temper get the best of him.
The parallels to the original Holmes stories continues with the fact that Jamie has a younger sister (Sherly, which amuses me greatly) and Charlotte has an older brother (Milo, “who runs the world”) and a drug problem.
The Moriarty line also continues with one August Moriarty, six years their elder and with his own, quite unexpected role to play. This is where their story starts to become their own.
The friendship between Jamie and Charlotte is believable, especially of a Holmes and Watson. The way they staunchly call each other only by last names, and are ever conscious of the fact that everyone expects them to be friends, thus leading to resistance on both ends to a certain degree, is endearing.
The plot is well paced, the mystery well thought out, and I didn’t see the ending coming, which was nice, I like it when books surprise me without it coming out of left field.
All the original characters and their subplots were interesting, fully fleshed, and engaging, and expanded the story from a “heterosexual retelling of the original” to its own contemporary story. I particularly loved the teachers of the school, Jamie’s insights into Charlotte’s mind and Lena’s character.
The book was humorous at times, and series in others, never sugarcoating Charlotte’s tragedies. Jamie’s dad played his role, as did the detective they worked with, though I don’t want to give anything else away.
The story starts slow, but it picks up soon enough and becomes very enjoyable. I particularly like the epilogue, which is the sole point of view we see from Charlotte giving her “notes on Watson’s account of events”. Each thing done by the killer is a staging of a different original Holmes short story, which we learn that both Jamie and Charlotte have their obsessions with. I hope we see more of their family history in later books, because the little we see is immensely compelling.
In all, I’m excited to see more from the series, I’m always had a soft soft for Sherlock Holmes and anyone dying in wait for season 4 of the BBC series would benefit from reading this.
My only complaint is that no one ever mentions or explains the fact that Jamie is essentially named after James Moriarty and his sister Sherly named after Sherlock.
“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.”
― Brittany Cavallaro, A Study in Charlotte
“The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.”
― Brittany Cavallaro, A Study in Charlotte