Jamie Watson is the great-great-great-grandson of the famous James Watson. All his life, he has dreamed of meeting his generational counterpart, Charlotte Holmes, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes. When an unexpected rugby scholarship moves him from London to a Connecticut prep-school, Watson finds himself at HER school! A Watson and Holmes, once again thrown together. Pity she apparently hates him. However, when students start dying in situations resembling Sherlock Holmes’s famous cases, the two must set aside their differences and work together. But can they succeed with the shadow of August Moriarty hanging between them?
“You’ve never seen Watson and Holmes like this before.” ~ promises the front cover. Doesn’t that plot sound COOL? Just writing it out made me want to re-read the book. The problem is, the actual story is not nearly as good as it sounds. This is a book with a lot of possibility but it fails to live up to it. Imagine Sherlock or Elementary and then stick it in a very Young Adult style plot (complete with romance) and you get an idea. But perhaps not the idea, because that still might be cool.
No, A Study in Charlotte wants to be more ambitious than that. Besides having the lousy temperament of a Holmes, Charlotte is saddled with all sorts of emotional and physical baggage. I was sick of her by the end. Her character is only saved by Jamie, who as the narrator, smooths out a lot of her more obnoxious traits. I really liked Jamie Watson. I found him believable, wistful, and sweet. It was easy to see his counterpart in the original Watson and he actually saved this book for me.
Take away her backstory and I probably would have liked Charlotte as well. The problem is, I don’t like these two characters in the setting given them. There is a lot of mature content in this book, referenced if not explicitly described. This isn’t a story that needs to be dark. It would have been charming as a squeaky clean, Middle School read. There are these two (potentially) endearing characters and this wonderful family background for them and it is just…unnaturally morbid. There isn’t enough to make it really and truly dark in the way that gives you good goose bumps. It is more like, distressing dark that makes you pity the characters, especially because half the time I felt like they didn’t have to go through what they did. The villain felt contrived and too predictable.
In the end, I give this book 2.5 stars. There is so much it could have been. However, it left me dissatisfied and I don’t think I will bother with the sequel. I definitely recommend finding Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes‘s mysteries instead.