My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you’re a fan of re-tellings then you will love A Study in Charlotte, a contemporary novel that follows the lives of a new generation of Sherlock and Holmes. Jamie Watson’s life is turned upside down when he is sent to a boarding school in Connecticut that just so happens to be close to his father’s house. The same man that got remarried and Jamie hasn’t spoken to in years. Despite his protests Jamie finds himself at this new school and longing for London. The one bright spot? Charlotte Holmes, whose accent makes him feel like home and won’t give him the time of day. As the only Holmes around his age, Jamie has been dreaming about Charlotte since he learned her name. He wonders what she looks like and imagines blonde hair, creating fantastic stories in his head of their crime solving adventure and friendship reminiscent of the original Sherlock and Holmes. His dreams aren’t exactly grounded in reality and it turns out that she has dark hair, but he’s not fazed. He manages to become friendly, if not friends with Holmes.
Charlotte and Jamie are wonderful, contemporary versions of their counterparts with familiar attributes while still being their own unique characters. Charlotte has a problem with narcotics, plays the violin and can usually be found with her beakers and test tubes (hopefully not blowing anything up). Jamie wants to be a writer, is a decent rugby player (despite what his scholarship might lead you to believe) and is braver than he thinks. Their best-friendship is appealing and realistic, despite Charlotte’s unique outlook on how to treat other human beings. You fall in love with the characters, whether you relate to Charlotte, Jamie, a little of both, or maybe one of the other supporting characters – you’ll find yourself enjoying this novel.
Each character even has a well thought out backstory that we learn more about throughout the course of the novel. What events and mistakes lead to Charlotte being sent to a boarding school in Connecticut when she should be in England? If a Moriarty and narcotics are involved, then you know it’s going to be intense – especially when the famous crime family isn’t particularly forgiving. Jamie’s story is less thrilling but no less important to his character. Not everyone is as they appear, some have secrets, some don’t always make the best choices, but it all drives the story forward. The book is full of poison, explosions, spying, chases and other staples of great mysteries.
The book has a lot of nods to classic Sherlock and Watson adventures and sometimes outright mentions them. As a huge Sherlock fan, from the classic novels of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the modern BBC creation – this book was perfection. I loved how it felt like a new story featuring some of my favourite characters and it kept you guessing until the end. The action and plot were well paced, allowing the story to unfold like a mystery should. Don’t worry, Moriarty’s were included in the writing of this story.
Highly recommended to young adult/teen fans of mystery, contemporary, or the classic Sherlock Holmes novels. I fell in love with this series and can’t wait to see where it goes from here.