A Study in Charlotte
Brittany Cavallaro's debut novel, A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE, explores the descendants of one of history’s most beloved duos. In our world, Sherlock and Watson are fictional, but in the world of Cavallaro's book, these two men were real people, and now their great-great-great-grandchildren repeat history and become a fantastic crime-solving pair. Within the first few pages, I already knew that this book would be a wild ride. And I was right.
Jamie Watson (yes, that Watson) never thought he would ever leave his beloved London, much less receive a scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school an hour away from his father, who he has not seen in years. To make things worse, Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, Sherlock Holmes’s great-great-great-granddaughter. She has not only inherited Sherlock’s genius and love for the violin but also his unpredictable mood. Jamie knows that it will be better to keep his distance from Charlotte.
"Within the first few pages, I already knew that this book would be a wild ride. And I was right...The writing, the flawed characters, and the addictive mystery kept me going until the very end."
But you cannot resist fate for long. When they meet, there is a crackling energy in the air that they cannot deny --- and when a Sherringford student that they both have history with is murdered, they are forced together to solve the case. As they delve deeper into the conspiracy, Holmes and Watson realize that they are being framed for murder and other crimes, each eerily mirroring classic Sherlock Holmes stories. As the tension rises, they realize they can only rely on each other and that no one is who they say they are.
Although this book was wildly entertaining, I did think A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE needed more exposition. From page one, you are hooked, but you are thrown into a world with characters that you know little to nothing about. I would have liked to read about Jamie’s last days in London and some details about what happened to Charlotte before Jamie arrived. I feel this would have given me a greater insight into both characters and what makes them tick. Overall, all of the characters needed more fleshing out, but this book is the start of a series, so we have plenty of time for that. I would particularly like to learn more about Charlotte, because in this first book, she is an enigma for most of the story, which makes her a very compelling heroine. Another thing about Charlotte: sometimes her “deductions” did not make a lot of sense. It seemed she would pull a conclusion from a small clue, something that did not seem to mean, at all, what she was saying it meant.
In spite of this novel’s weak spots, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. There is something to be said for writing that flies by, leaving you wondering how you managed to read 50 pages in 20 minutes. I was thoroughly addicted to the story, eager to find out what crime would be committed next and desperate to know who was framing Charlotte and Jamie. Although I was satisfied by the end of the book, I am still very excited for the sequel. It takes a special kind of writing for me to ignore faults that usually make or break a book, and Brittany Cavallaro has it. All of the shortcomings I found can easily be fixed within the next book, as plotting, pacing and character development are all things that you learn with practice and experience --- amazingly addictive writing, however, is rare and hard to learn if you don’t have it naturally. I very much enjoyed A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE. The writing, the flawed characters, and the addictive mystery kept me going until the very end. Highly recommended for fans of BBC’s "Sherlock," Arthur Conan Doyle’s wonderful stories and novels, RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard and any Gillian Flynn novel, for the addictive writing qualities.
Reviewed by Bryn D., Teen Board Member on March 10, 2016