A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: Lady Sherlock #1
Publication Date: 10/18/16
# of Pages: 323
What an idiot I am! I am not normally a fan of ‘take off’ books, so I had totally skipped reading this series until a friend whose opinion I value, highly recommended it. I am totally, and completely blown away! This isn’t a ‘take off’ of Sherlock Holmes – this is a total reimagining – flip it on its head and make it the author’s own book. I haven’t ever read anything by this author, but that is quickly changing – I have already bought all of the published books in this series and plan to read them in rapid order and then wait, impatiently, for each new release.
Charlotte Holmes is the youngest of four daughters. Her parents are of the aristocratic poor variety. Her older sister is married and the next older one will never be able to care for herself because of mental impairments. That just leaves Charlotte and her older sister Livia living at home. The whole family is very eccentric, but Charlotte is definitely the most eccentric of the lot. She didn’t speak until she was four because she didn’t have anything important to say and her first words were to solve a puzzle the rest of her family was looking at and trying to figure out. Everyone was astonished and when asked why she hadn’t spoken before, she told them that she hadn’t had anything important to say before then. Charlotte isn’t a fan of touching, hugging or talking, so she’s a bit hard to deal with, but to Livia, she is wonderful.
Charlotte is also her father’s pet and he spoils her rotten. He was vastly amused by her combination of great intelligence, great oddity, and great silence. On the other hand, her mother was overbearing, imperious, and cold. Neither parent really loves their children as they should – it is all about what those children can do to benefit the parents. Charlotte’s mother despairs of her ever becoming a proper young lady who is acceptable to society.
I’ll not tell you all about Charlotte because this review would get much too long – and – besides – you need to read the book to find out all of the details about her – especially when she was a young child. This book takes a fair and appropriate amount of time to show you who Charlotte is and her development from a mute 4-year-old to being renowned as one of the best minds of a generation.
While Charlotte is extremely brilliant, her judgment isn’t necessarily always brilliant. She is a very young woman with no world experience at all. She’s made it plain to her family – all of her life – that she has no intentions of marrying. So, her father makes a pact with her – learn to be a young lady, participate in the Season and if, by the age of twenty-five she still hasn’t found someone she wishes to marry, he’ll send her to school to prepare her for her chosen field. Livia has told her all along that her father will not honor that promise – and Charlotte knows that is a probability – but when the actuality of it presents itself, Charlotte makes a grievous error. Then she is ruined – and she is on the street and on her own.
As Charlotte searches for lodging and employment, she learns some real truths about living on her own. It doesn’t deter her, but she gets smarter about things. Then she meets Mrs. Watson who offers Charlotte employment as her paid companion, Charlotte immediately accepts. Mrs. Watson is a wonderful character and is so much fun to read. Together, she and Charlotte come up with a way that Charlotte can earn money by helping to solve ‘mysteries’ for people without them realizing it is a female doing it.
While all of that is going on, the mother of the man who ruined Charlotte is found dead. Just before that death, the woman her father had once proposed to also dies – but they seem like natural deaths. When Charlotte notices the third death in the paper, her encyclopedic memory cycles through all of the connections of the ton and realizes that the three are probably not natural and are all related. She writes a letter (as Sherlock Holmes) to the coroner of the latest death connecting the three and asking them not to declare it a natural death.
Inspector Treadles from Scotland Yard is dispatched to begin the investigation. The investigation is slow going and the deadline for providing the evidence is looming. Can Treadles put it all together? He hates to continue to consult with Sherlock (in writing), but he needs Sherlock’s unique insights.
I haven’t mentioned Lord Ingram yet. He and Charlotte have been friends since they were children and they have a really unique relationship. They love each other and probably have since they were children – but they came to know that too late. Lord Ingram is married – unhappily, but married none-the-less. He is very, very proper and would never act on his love for Charlotte (even though she tries to seduce him), but he will do his very best to protect her. ** I just know that in some future book, the wife will be gone and Charlotte and Lord Ingram will be together **
There is a lot more happening during this investigation and lots of wonderful supporting characters are either introduced or mentioned. I’ve mentioned Livia and Mrs. Watson, but we also get Lord Bancroft (a play on Mycroft?) who is Lord Ingram’s brother and also the head of the spy agency for England. We hear mention of Moriarty, but don’t see him and we meet the Marbletons.
This is a wonderful book. The characters are unique, likable, and engaging. The mystery is well done, the pacing is excellent and I love the ‘nods’ to the original Sherlock. For instance, I wonder how long it took her to rearrange the letters in LeStrade to get Treadles. Then there is the Bancroft/Mycroft thing, etc.
I highly recommend this series!
6 thoughts on “A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas”
Wow!!! This sounds so good! I love a mixture of historical romance and mystery and this one sounds perfect 🙂
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My favorite genre is historical mysteries — I want a complex, sophisticated mystery and I also want a complex, wonderful romance. This series, so far, has both. I am not normally a fan of the ‘rip off’ stories, but this one was excellent and I’m sorry I waited so long to give it a try.
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Adding this one to my list to read! Thank you!
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I was delightfully surprised by it.