I’ve only become a real fan of the Sherlock Holmes universe in the past few months. Needless to say, when I heard about Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study In Charlotte, I was beyond excited to read her modern interpretation:
The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John 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 enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.
Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.
A Study in Charlotte features a Holmes and a Watson, but not the ones that Sherlock fans are used to. Instead, we get to learn about Charlotte Holmes and James Watson, both descended from the original Sherlock and Watson respectively.
Cavallaro balances her desire to re-imagine the world of Sherlock Holmes with the necessities that come with adapting such a well-known story. In the case of A Study in Charlotte, the story is told through Jamie’s point-of-view. In a nice change of pace, Holmes is (obviously) female, and that brings a new and intriguing relationship between Watson and Holmes. The fact that their relationship starts with the murder of their classmate certainly puts them in a strange place, and luckily for the reader, one that leads to plenty of opportunities for adventure.
There is a lot of reference to the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, from the murder(s) being based off of Sherlock Holmes stories to Holmes’s quirks (yes, the violin is definitely present. Along with some more potent items). Brittany Cavallaro herself has said that there are many Sherlock easter eggs hidden throughout the novel. So, really, you’re getting two mysteries in one, since Sherlock fans will be reading closely for every hidden detail!
A Study in Charlotte will keep you on your toes from the first page to the last. Cavallaro writes a heart-pounding mystery with twists that you definitely won’t see coming. It’s both reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle and a fresh and original take on the relationships Holmes and Watson have with their enemies. I definitely recommend checking it out if you like mysteries or you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan. I’m glad this is a start to a trilogy because I’m definitely looking forward to more Charlotte and Jamie.