Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. And not just the new flashy versions with RDJ and Benedict Cumberbatch. I love reading the old stories. So I was understandably really excited to hear about a new adaptation.
A Study in Charlotte was sold to me as an updated Sherlock Holmes for a younger generation. Oh, and the Holmes in question would be female. That was pretty much all it took to get me on the pre-order list. I’m an easier customer when it comes to books. What can I say? I know what I like.
There are a couple important factors to note about this adaptation:
- In this version of the world, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson were not fictional. They actually existed. So Watson actually wrote the stories. But Arthur Conan Doyle is still in there somewhere too because he was also real. Not totally sure how that one is supposed to have worked out, but there you have it.
- The main characters are Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson. They’re descendants of the famous families. They’re basically the same as the classic characters you remember, and the story is set up so you’ll believe that for every generation of Holmes there is a Watson. Sweet idea, but they seem like caricatures at some point.
While I found certain pieces of this story interesting, I have to say that overall it wasn’t what I expected. There were some things I forgot. Like how dark the Sherlock Holmes stories are. I’ve become slightly immune to them over time maybe. But nothing wakes you up to the depths of Sherlock darkness quite like throwing a teenagers in the middle of it.
My main issue with this book was that I felt the structure couldn’t carry the weight of a Sherlock Holmes story. It got too dark too fast. It didn’t redeem itself enough. There are certain things we’ve started forgiving Sherlock for during the many updates and adaptations. But using high school as a backdrop for murder plots and nefarious schemes at the same level just doesn’t hold up.
I did appreciate the attempts to differentiate Charlotte from her famous forbearer, but in the end I felt like there weren’t enough. From the first page she was so affected by her family that we were already in a hole there was no chance to climb out of. I can’t enjoy a story as much when the weight of history is directing it so clearly down a particular path.
What I will say for the book is the true to the original stories, a Watson makes a great friend.
If you’ve read A Study in Charlotte, let me know how you felt in the comments. I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews and I know some people were really taken with the story. I’d love to hear your opinions. Happy reading.