Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A Study in Charlotte

Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Genre: Suspense, Teen
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 320
Source: Local Public Library
Series: #1 in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (a Harper Collins imprint)
First Published: March 1, 2016
First Line: "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."

Book Description from GoodReads: 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.

My Rating: 2.5 stars

My ReviewA Study in Charlotte follows Charlotte Holmes and James Watson, descendants of the famous detective duo Sherlock and Watson, at a boarding school in Connecticut. This was an interesting premise and, honestly, the reason I picked up this book at my local library.  Charlotte and Jamie find themselves in the thick of a few crimes that mimic the famous mysteries that their great-great-great grandfathers solved 'back in the day'.  While it had a good premise, an interesting twist with Charlotte being a teenage girl and a decent (if a bit befuddled) mystery, there were some inconsistencies/issues that bothered me. 

First, Charlotte felt too similar to the original Sherlock. Just because she's (distantly) related to Sherlock, does that necessarily mean that she must be brilliant, socially unaware and an egocentric jerk most of the time?  I was hoping she'd have her own unique elements - perhaps a more human, softer side so readers can relate to her.  But she didn't have a uniqueness to her apart from the characteristics people relate with Sherlock, nor did she have the depth of character that he possessed. She was Sherlock 2.0 and I was hoping for a bit more.

Watson, on the other hand, came off as a wienie. Sure, he was funny at times but he was like a lost puppy blindly following Sherlock around waiting for moments to admire her (which often had a creepy vibe).  I just couldn't understand why he was so into her when she was perpetually in a bad mood, rude, mean, insensitive, brash, egocentric .... the list goes on and yet there is Watson just beggin' for her attention.  And don't get me started on the unnecessary romance angle.

This book addresses many serious issues - murder, date rape and a lot of drug use. These issues played a bigger role in the plot than I was expecting and I wasn't comfortable with Charlotte's drug use or the lack of explanation for it.  But, more importantly, I was shocked and very disappointed with how the date rape was handled in the story.  More specifically, not handled.  For a book whose audience is mainly teens I think the author missed a very important opportunity to address this serious subject.  

*** Spoiler Alert ***

Most of the people at her school think the rape was Charlotte's fault so Charlotte keeps this information to herself.  She doesn't want to reveal the attack to her family for fear of being another disappointment to her famous family. The reader must assume that Charlotte is totally alone in her torment because the rape is barely acknowledge for the vast majority of the book. I just don't understand, besides being a plot device, why the date rape was included.  I could see a person such as Holmes burying her feelings and memories of the rape but the reader never gets to see her deal with it. We only see it through Watson's eyes and that just seemed wrong.

*** End of Spoiler ***

While this book had a great premise it just wasn't the book for me.  I found the mysteries to be predictable and disjointed in their telling and I was left struggling to stay interested in the characters and plot which was much darker than I had expected. Perhaps true Sherlockians will enjoy this but I'll be taking a pass on the next book in this trilogy.

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