Title: A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1)
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Mystery | YA | Romance
“Like you said, you can take care of yourself,” I told her, finally. “If you murdered hm, I bet there would be twenty witnesses who saw him put the gun to his own head.”
I adore Sherlock Holmes novels. I think I’ve read all of them as well as the many spin offs that have come as a results. As far as I’m considered, nothing can beat the BBC show – I can’t get enough of that awesomeness – but I am constantly searching for something just as good for these long seasons breaks, which brought me to rewrites. Some of them are brilliant and funny while some are like this and sort of a flop. Don’t get me wrong this was a fun read, I just found it a bit lacking at times and it didn’t really cover some serious subjects properly, or at least as far as I’m concerned it didn’t.
So first things first, the use a murder from a book to frame a real life murder is getting a little overused for me. I’ve seen it done quite a few times in literature and while it’s cool it’s getting a little repetitive. Having said that, one of the things I liked about the way Cavallaro has done it here, is reading about James’ reaction to it. James Watson is the voice of A Study in Charlotte and I found it rather humorous reading the scenes shortly following the murder when he commented on the original Watson’s writing of it. It just made me laugh. Especially the one where he talks about how he really doesn’t understand what was going through Watson’s mind when he wrote that scene.
Admittedly James’ narration of the novel is very funny at times. It was well-written and he is really witty and funny, which makes the whole thing very entertaining. However at points I was a little disappointed at the YA route the novel took. I love a bit of Johnlock but in this book it just felt forced to me from the very beginning. He was obsessed with Holmes at first, always talking about her and the way he flew to her defence in the beginning was something straight out of a twilight novel. As the book developed and we got to know more characters, I found his obsession with Moriarty (or Moriarty and Holmes’ relationship) a little annoying. I get that it would be a popular ship, but part of me wanted this just to be a best friend relationship. However they appeared to be destined from the very beginning.
I also want to point out that while this is a retelling (of sorts) the characters don’t have to be identical to their predecessors. I feel like this is always an issue that comes up in adaptions and I definitely felt it here. Just because Charlotte is Sherlock’s great grand-daughter doesn’t mean that she also has to be stellar at deductions, a violin player, an ass, and a hardcore drug addict on top of everything. She just felt too much like carbon copy at times.
Which brings me to the issues that I felt weren’t handled properly. For starters her drug addiction: Charlotte is addicted to oxy but no one seems to do anything about it. She also smokes and again receives no comment or aid with this as far as I can tell. I just feel like this in a teenager would have been reacted on a lot more than in the adult Sherlock. Not to mention the scene with Dobson is completely glossed over
and James seem to be the only person angry about this! This would have had a much bigger reaction in modern day but people are more obsessed with the murder and Holmes and Watson rather than that. I just found it a bit unrealistic, especially the way it all happened.
The last thing that bugged me was the ending. For the entire novel we were fed little bits of information and then right at the end the murderer was revealed and suddenly we get all of the information, at once. It was wildly confusing, only made more so by James’ writing. I just think that this could have been handled a lot better, especially when the facts about the first murder came out. I feel like Holmes’ would have had more of a reaction to that, but she didn’t.
Altogether I did like this book, don’t get me wrong it was funny at times and had a decent plot. But I just felt like it was trying to hard to be the original duo in modern times, with a twist. And it also badly advertises drugs and smoking. As well as uses an incredibly traumatic experience as a minor plot point.