My absolute favorite book genre is boarding school stories, and also I love Sherlock Holmes stories and spinoffs… so I was very excited about A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. This YA novel is the first in a planned trilogy about a new Holmes and Watson pairing.
Jamie Watson is an English boy at an American boarding school- the same school that Charlotte Holmes attends. They are the descendants of the famous Holmes and Watson, and Charlotte has been demonstrating her aptitude for sleuthing since she was a child. Jamie, however, has not had any opportunities to sleuth, and he feels simultaneously awkward and excited when that opportunity arises unexpectedly.
A student is found dead- a rather nasty fellow- one whom both Jamie and Charlotte had negative encounters with in the very recent past. So, in order to avoid implication in the boy’s death, Holmes and Watson must try to solve the case.
I enjoyed reading A Study in Charlotte. I don’t want to give too much away, but there are multiple allusions to famous Sherlock Holmes cases, and these clues are used to mock Charlotte and Jamie. It’s clear that this is not just a cut-and-dry schoolboy murder, but the reader is left wondering about how big the “bigger picture is until the very end.
The most controversial of the allusions to classic Sherlock Holmes is Holmes’ drug use. This is present in the original stories, and serves as a subplot in the BBC’s present-day Sherlock series. So, it should not be a surprise that Charlotte Holmes is a drug addict, but it’s somewhat shocking because she’s still a teenage girl despite her lauded lineage. If there happen to be any parents reading this review because they are trying to determine suitability/appropriateness of their children’s reading material, then they should know that the drugs are certainly not glorified.
I would recommend A Study in Charlotte. I know that Sherlock can be popular with the YA audience, and this is the sort of book that is going to appeal to them. I would also posit that this book would appeal to adult fans of Sherlock as well. I am looking forward to what Cavallaro is going to do next with her new Holmes and Watson.