Brief synopsis (Goodreads): With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.
When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.
Rating: Left behind
Long story short (no spoilers): When I thought of a gender-bend Sherlock Holmes story, I assumed that the only thing that would change would be his gender, and that at her core, this reimagined character would still be Sherlock in her mannerisms and eccentricities. Sadly, A Study in Scarlet Women is not that kind of story, and that was disappointing.
Instead Sherlock—or rather Charlotte—is intelligent and extremely observant, yet lacks the traditional characteristics that make Sherlock Sherlock. She demonstrates empathy and a mastery of social skills, she isn’t narcissistic, she isn’t really stubborn, she doesn’t disregard authority, and she more or less conforms to social norms.
I understand that the author wanted to highlight the difficulties of a woman doing what Sherlock did in his time, however the tradeoff was that Charlotte became less like Sherlock. The book would have made more sense had Charlotte been a new character altogether—a woman detective working under an assumed name—instead of a watered-down version of Sherlock Holmes.
In addition, there are several instances where Charlotte makes decisions that don’t make sense given how smart she is. Some show a lack of common sense, which fits with the traditional Sherlock character, but others seem like their only purpose is to move the (slow) plot along.
Ultimately I won’t be reading the rest of the series, though I’m determined to find a good Sherlock gender-bend story. The next one on my list is A Study in Charlotte (man, everybody loves that name…), which is the first book in a trilogy.
Have any of you read either of those? Or have suggestions for other Sherlock spin-offs? Let me know! You can also keep reading for a spoiler review of A Study in Scarlet Women. Continue reading “Review: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas”