Boozy Babes Book Club: A Study in Charlotte

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July's Book Club read offered a bit of a change of pace for our usual picks. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro was chosen and was also our first official YA (Young Adult) novel to be read by the club. I have nothing against YA novels. I'm 100% in the camp of - I Just Want You/People To Read So Please Read Anything! - however, YA is not typically a genre I partake in.

A Study in Charlotte asks you to imagine that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson's great-great-great grandchildren meet in at Connecticut prep school after their families had lost contact with one another over the years. Both teenagers have similar traits to their great-great-great grandparents, and both fall under suspicion of murder when a fellow school mate is found dead. This murder follows the plot of their ancestor's previous mysteries giving Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson clues that this isn't just a senseless act but possibly one of revenge against the two and their families.

As I tend to do every month I some how end up reading other books outside the Book Club book that align with our pick. This month in addition to A Study in Charlotte I also read The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers who Inspired Chicago by Douglas Perry. (Which I highly recommend if you are a fan of True Crime and the Roaring Twenties.) Being able to pick up the July Book after that was a bit of relief as it was quick read. A Study in Charlotte is a bit like a saucier Sweet Valley High Mysteries meets The Hardy Boys. Definitely not as wholesome, but falling inline with the whole high school kids solving crimes.

There's nothing wrong with A Study in Charlotte and if you're a fan of the YA genre and mysteries I encourage you to read it. It's fast paced and fun though can be a bit cliche (oh the perks of a YA novel!). I did love that it had a strong, albeit unconventional, lead lady as "Holmes", meaning that it should definitely appeal to female readers, and that it touched on rather topical issues such as opium addiction and campus rape. While the mystery itself wasn't exactly "new" given that it took many cues from other Sherlock tales, hopefully the other books in the series will introduce new and creative crimes for Jamie and Charlotte to solve.

There's always a but... my issues with book one of the Charlotte Holmes series come mostly with the challenge when you take well loved and famous characters (Sherlock and Watson) and try to extend that universe. Sometimes it can be done successfully (looking at you BBC's Sherlock or CBS's Elementary) but other times it feels overdone. Perhaps it was the YA genre but my mind wandered quite frequently to Riverdale, the CW show based on Archie Comics. Riverdale created a whole new story arc and mythos using the characters as a foundation. It's a wink and a nod to the comic but deviates enough to where it's something new and fresh. To me that it is far more successful than A Study in Charlotte. The winks are there, but it never adds up to something where I felt excited to see where Charlotte and Jamie were going as characters.

Despite the jacket summary making it seem like their may be some push and pull to their friendship, it was immediate and rather anti climatic. To me there was a lack of character development. Charlotte and Jamie were one dimensional near replicas of their great-great-great grandparents and I was far more interested in the minor characters. Eventually, I just wanted to figure out who the hell are killing children and be done with it. (Also I hate to say this but it almost felt a little fanfic-y.) Cavallaro's book reminded me a bit of The Beekeeper's Apprentice. Another series which attempted to add to the Sherlock Holmes canon but fell a bit flat. However, I can definitely see the middle/high school set eating this series up.

Am I wrong? Did you love A Study in Charlotte and think I'm out of my mind? Let me know!

Our Next Boozy Babes Book Club read for August will be The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee. Follow us along in our reads on instagram by searching the hashtag: #boozybabesbookclub
xx

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