A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)

23272028First Lines: The first time I met her was at the tail end of one of those endless weekday nights you could only have at a school like Sherringford.

I received this as an ARC from the publisher in return for a review.  (Official release date is March 1, 2016.)  When I initially saw the title of this (back before it had a cover), I was like, “Oooh, this has to be about Sherlock Holmes!”  While I was sort of wrong, I was still totally in.

Jamie Watson wants just two things out of this year: he wants to be a writer like his great-great-great grandfather John Watson and he wants to not go to school at Sherringford in Connecticut, an hour away from his estranged father.  Well, while his second desire doesn’t come true, he does get a nice surprise when he meets Charlotte Holmes, the great-great-great granddaughter of the famous Sherlock Holmes.  Jamie quickly notices that Charlotte shares many of the same qualities as her ancestor: quick intelligence, a lack of social understanding, and a condescending air that comes from believing she is better than everyone else.  At first, Charlotte and Jamie don’t get on very well; there’s so much tension between them that it doesn’t seem like they can be anything but rivals.  But when a Sherringford student dies in a way straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel, Jamie and Charlotte can no longer keep their distance.  They’re being framed and Charlotte may be the only one to clear their names…

Rather than expecting a classic Sherlock story from this book, I was more expecting something akin to the BBC series, Sherlock.  And that’s actually a pretty close comparison.  It’s modern, fast-paced but well-told, but still retaining what everyone loves from Sherlock Holmes.

The characters were pretty much exactly what I was looking for.  Charlotte is super smart, offensive without meaning to be, lacking in some common sense, impatient, condescending, and yet still vulnerable and sweet. I think that’s kind of the brilliance of anything relating to Sherlock: the main character is deeply flawed, and yet you still want him (or her, in this case) to be your friend. Jamie also steals the story in his own way. He starts off as as aggressive, angry teenage boy, but with Charlotte’s friendship, he becomes someone else. Someone more patient. More caring. It was nice to see him change too.  It’s the kind of mellowing I generally see out of John Watson too.

The mystery was definitely well-done.  This is one of the few mysteries I’ve read lately where I actually legitimately have no idea who the murderer is because there is evidence to support blaming multiple characters.  I think I had something like 5 suspects going at one point because I simply couldn’t narrow it down.  My only qualm with the mystery was that the “reveal” of the murderer was anticlimactic.  Like, Charlotte just blurted it out and that was that.  No big reveal, no surprise.  I felt a little let down.

It was entertaining and even funny at times.  (That mostly stems from Charlotte’s misunderstanding of social cues and courtesies.)  There’s a lot of suspense, especially early on in the story.  From there, the suspense does lighten, but it never quite leaves.  That was good for keeping my attention (a real challenge over the Christmas holiday).

Overall, it’s an interesting twist on a classic tale.  I’m definitely keeping this series on my radar to see what kind of trouble Jamie and Charlotte get into next.

(P.S. if you’d like to enter into a giveaway for this book, there’s one going on on Goodreads, good through February 1, 2016.  Enter here.)

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