Last night I finished reading Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study In Charlotte, the first book in a trilogy about Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson - the great-great-great-granddaughter and great-great-great-grandson of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The story is set in the modern day at a prep school in Connecticut, where both protagonists have been sent by their respective families for different reasons and who meet quite by accident (or so we are first led to believe).

Jamie is a rugby player with aspirations of being a writer and something of a temper. Charlotte seems something of a goth type who runs a regular high stakes poker game on campus and shares Sherlock’s issues with addiction. They are thrown together after young Watson is accused of murdering one of their classmates; the victim is someone with whom Holmes has an unfortunate history, and with whom Watson had a rather violent (and public) run-in prior to his murder.  As the case progresses, young Holmes and Watson learn that this case has connections to their famous ancestors; along the way they manage to develop an odd sort of friendship (and, by the end, maybe something a little more).

It’s actually a fun book, although some of the language and subject matter to me seemed awfully adult for a “young adult” book. (I guess that’s just my age showing, though; when I think of “young adult” mysteries I think of The Hardy Boys and the Alfred Hitchcock “Three Investigators” stories I was reading in grades 4-6 and have re-read a number of times since then. No talk of drug use or rape or use of the “F” word in any of those…) It took a little while to warm up to Charlotte - she’s not very likable at first, although as the story progresses you understand the reasons for her behavior - but ultimately both she and young Jamie prove themselves to be worthy heirs to the mantles of their famous forebears. Cavallaro obviously has a great deal of affection for the original Conan Doyle stories and works in a number of references to them, as well as to Baring-Gould’s Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street.

I don’t know how most Sherlockians will greet this new set of stories; it's certainly not your traditional Holmesian saga, though fans of the TV series Elementary and Sherlock should certainly enjoy them. For my money, however, the series is off to a pretty decent start and I’m looking forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy. (The second book, The Last Of August, has just been released in hardback but I’m going to wait for the paperback edition so my copies will match.)

(Review copyright 2017 by John Allen Small)