Title: A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes Trilogy #1)
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
2017 Book Challenge Entry: A book with a title that is a character’s name (stretching a little because it only CONTAINS a character’s name…but I think it works)
Thoughts: I am a person that will read pretty much anything. I do not discriminate when it comes to genres, authors, or topics and I usually don’t judge books by their covers. Although, I do think that good cover art is a very powerful tool. I also don’t believe in passing judgement on others for what they read. I’m not huge into romance, but if you like a good bodice ripper, you do you. Since I am an equal opportunity reader, I have no issue with being a 33-year-old woman who dives into a good YA novel on the reg.
I think YA gets a bad rep. Let’s be honest. There are good YA books and bad YA books just like in any other genre. Some of the stories are well drawn with interesting characters and well structured plots. Some are poorly written knock offs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (#josswhedonforever) Some people like the poorly written knock off of Buffy that’s fine too! But! Not all YA books are Buffy knock offs. Not all YA books end with a nerdy girl being turned into a swan for the likes of a boy. Not all YA books involve someone losing their virginity. These things can and do happen in young adult literature, but the genre as a whole is so much more than that. I think the reason I like to read YA is because I can still relate on some level. The situations and feelings these characters deal with are things I’ve dealt with in my life. As someone who works with kids and teenagers regularly, I also like that I can keep up with what is being published for students that age and make recommendations or have something to pull from when they come to me with problems and issues. I guess on some level, these books and these stories help me feel young.
Then again, sometimes, like with all genres, you come across a book or a series that is just plain clever. It is refreshing. It wakes you up and makes you happy. The Charlotte Holmes series is just that and it took me completely by surprise.
Eric and I were at Target looking for something specific I’m sure…maternity clothes, or a gift for someone’s birthday last minute, and we spun through the book and music section. There was a book there called A Study in Charlotte and I thought, “Well, that’s fun and clever. I wonder what that’s about…” I read the synopsis, bought the book, and read it in about 48 hours. Then I immediately found, purchased and read the second book in the series. Then I got really sad because the author hasn’t even released the title for the third book…so I don’t know how I’m supposed to function until that book comes out. This book was that good. It was good enough that I literally started trying to find a book that probably isn’t even written yet. But I digest.
A Study in Charlotte posits that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson were most definitely real people. They worked together and eventually Watson published his memoirs detailing the cases they solved and the adventures they had fighting crime. The books pick up decades later when their descendants, Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, cross paths at a fancy boarding school in the northeast. They don’t really know each other because over the years, the families drifted and only really see each other at social functions and fundraisers put on by other people. Since she is kind of a mystery to him apart from what he knows of the Holmes family from his ancestors writing, Jamie has developed a sort of obsession with Charlotte. She, on the other hand, really wants nothing to do with him. Suddenly a classmate of theirs is murdered and, due to the fact that this boy raped Charlotte and Jamie later had a physical altercation with him, they are on the list of suspects. They end up teaming up to figure out who actually killed him and clear their names. As they work together a friendship/more than friendship forms and things become complicated due to Charlotte’s cold demeanor and pretty serious drug problem. Jamie has an open heart and a hero complex that doesn’t exactly get Charlotte’s engine revving at first so despite the fact that you might see the hook up coming from a hundred miles away, it is still totally satisfying to be on the bumpy road while they figure out how to get there.
It makes me really happy that this author made Charlotte, the girl in the story, the complicated troubled one. So often in these kinds of mysteries, the guy is cold and distant with the woman trying to ‘fix’ him or bring out his heart in some way. As a woman, it was refreshing to see those roles flipped and for the woman to pull away and the man to have those feelings of wanting to fix and help and cure. I thought it made their dynamic more interesting and made me want to keep reading.
The author also does a fantastic job of weaving a fun who-dun-it without it being too complex. Sometimes, when I read mysteries, I get the feeling that the authors just throw an ending on that doesn’t make much sense. You could tell Cavallaro really drew out her whole story before she ever put pencil to paper. It felt organized amidst the chaos and even though I had no idea where it was going (besides the protagonists’ relationship), when the ending did come to fruition, it made sense and I could see the breadcrumbs she dropped for her readers along the way. To me, that is what makes a good mystery. It’s like at the end of The Sixth Sense, where you find out Bruce Willis has been dead the whole time and you go, “What?! No way! Awesome! Oh Jesus! How did I miss that!?” and then you go back and re-watch it to catch all the clues.
I really loved this book. Obviously I loved it so much that I ran out and got the second one to see what else happened to these characters. I highly recommend it for anyone who loves mysteries or Sherlock Holmes, even if YA isn’t normally your thing. A quick story to wrap this up. When we were in Nashville last year for a quick getaway, Eric and I spent a day just day drinking and going from bar to bar on Broadway listening to music. I usually don’t like country music. At all. I hate it. But being there and listening to those musicians, I had to admit: Solid musicians are solid musicians. End of story. And good storytelling is good storytelling. Period. Give it a shot. It’s a super fun one.