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.
So Sherlock YA is a thing now. Yes it was always a thing but now it’s a thing. It’s cool, it’s now. we’re sitting at the tail end of its Zeitgeist moment swimming in an ocean of Sherlock retellings reimaginings, and revisions like a hip Scrooge McDuck.
And, so far, I LOVE them. A Study In Charlotte is no exception. I devoured this book like Charlotte Holmes chomps down tranquillisers and it has stuck with me like a particularly vivid trip.
Both James Watson (our narrator) and Charlotte Holmes are written with big fat juicy balls of character. Brittany Cavallaro is a massive Sherlockian and classic mystery fan (she even teaches Detective Fiction) and it shines through. I saw it in the way Watson romanticises everything even when he knows he shouldn't (as an aspiring teenage novelist he can’t help it) yet he is quick to fall back on his fists. And I saw it in Holmes’ blunt yet evasive answers; sending you miles in the wrong direction before realising you didn't understand her point.
These are clear echoes of the original Holmes and Watson and are essential to their characters. Like the gin in my martini, without it it’s just a few olives in a fancy glass.
The actual mystery is well layered and full of dead ends filled with red herrings stuffed with ‘That’s it!’ moments. I'm not ashamed to say that Charlotte Holmes was always a step ahead of me, I vehemently dislike having a mystery’s solution handed to me throughout the story, it’s like a receiving a pat on the head and a certificate for just turning up. No one feels good about it. That is not an issue here, Cavallaro makes you work for it and it’s worth every dissected clue.
There is a spark of attraction between the two but (considering the event Holmes is subjected to prior to the book’s start) it’s muted, besides the friendship they form is so excitingly volatile and sweet it still ticks all the feels boxes. I genuinely cared about them as people by the end and it would require no deductive skills to know I'm eager for more from these two.