Well, after all of the other little bits of the past week and yesterday's mildly controversial suggestion that our next Sherlock Holmes should be a woman, it seemed only fitting that I sit down tonight with the last half of Brittany Cavallaro's A Study in Charlotte. So I did, finished it off, and what follows is the obligatory review.
I liked A Study in Charlotte a lot.
Not because Charlotte Holmes is a "Sherlock Holmes," or that Jamie Watson is a "John H. Watson" . . . no, because these are a Holmes and a Watson who exist in a very fleshed out version of the real Sherlock Holmes's world a century later. Because it's a "Young Adult" novel, it has to take place at a YA sort of location . . . a school called, oh, so perfectly, Sherringford . . . but it has some pretty adult topics in the course of its plot: Murder, of course. Rape. Drug abuse. (Why murder seems the one of those three that seems more commonly suitable for kids . . . whom we would call "kids" in any other setting than bookstore marketing, where they become "young adults" . . . is one of those odd little bits of modern life.) Otherwise, it almost seems like a Sherlockian Harry Potter.
Instead of a world of magic, we get a world where Sherlock Holmes was very real, very famous, and his family has been living with his legacy for generations. As have the Watsons. And, naturally, the Moriartys.
Brittany Cavallaro pulls this Holmes universe thing off very well, even though the "someone is staging murders based on the Canon" business is a something an elder Sherlockian like myself has seen many a time before, the characterization of Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson is well done enough and comfortably familiar enough to make up for that. (And in a universe where Holmes lived, it does make a little more sense than in our own.) I'm very interested to see where she goes next with her world and characters, now that they'll be moving on to some non-Sherlockian based crime. Something supernatural like a hound from Hell that needs undone? Something with a little travel involved? Plenty of places for her to go in this world Cavallaro has built, and I'm hoping she doesn't play the Moriarty card too hard with such a big wide world to play in.
With the Doyle Estate reined in a bit and a certain phenomenal Holmes and Watson out there to inspire writers as well, I expect we'll be seeing more and more quality celebrations of Sherlock Holmes rising to the professional ranks like this one. just because there's more room to play. There's always going to be a certain proportionate amount of bad Holmes to go with any good Holmes we get during such an influx, but I definitely think we can put Charlotte in the category of "Good Holmes."
(Did I just rec a fic? Well, since it's pro, I probably just recommended a novel, but I'll get cool like that one of these days. Maybe . . .)
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