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A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
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A Study in Scarlet Women (2016)

by Sherry Thomas

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lady Sherlock (1)

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1441283,153 (3.93)3
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This author gives us the first volume of a gender-switcheroo on the Sherlock Holmes legend. Holmes is a young woman, who fell from society's grace as a teenager, is an embarrassment to her family and is shunned by the locals. In her twenties, she teams up with Watson, an older woman of even sketchier reputation and a Scotland Yard Inspector, Treadles (a anagram of Lestrade), to solve a mystery involving the poisoning of three seemingly unrelated individuals. At the end of the tale, the name Moriarty is mentioned in passing, leaving us with a new character for the next installment. The concept is fun and I thank the author and the Penguin First to Read program for a complimentary copy. ( )
  musichick52 | May 27, 2017 |
Sherlock Holmes is kind of like a chocolate chip cookie. There's a basic recipe which has been around forever and which everyone loves. (Well, I don't love the original, but work with me here.) And people can never, ever resist taking that basic original recipe and playing with it – there are hundreds of variations. Some add ingredients – here's Sherlock Homes vs. Jack the Ripper. Some swap out one kind of chip for another – Watson's a woman! Some go gluten-free or dairy-free or sugar-free – Holmes in the 21st century. And some change the focus to one flavor or another – Mrs. Hudson is the main character, or Irene Adler. (Some add nuts – "I'm a high-functioning sociopath"…)

Here, though, Sherry Thomas takes the basic recipe, pulls it apart, and puts it back together again (with some new additions) so that I don't even know what to do with the metaphor: Sherlock Holmes is actually Charlotte Holmes, disgraced noblewoman.

The book didn't start well. Charlotte's disgrace comes about because she is tired of the nuisance of her parents' constant attempts to push her into the marriage market. Uninterested, wishing to spend her time as she likes, she makes herself ineligible for a good marriage via a plan which is coolly and logically thought out – and which made my jaw drop with its sheer stupidity.

'Course, it might not have been so dumb if things had gone to plan. She is taken by surprise, and in such a way that her life could never be what it was – which was a bit ironic, since one of her motivations in taking a step to avoid marriage was to continue on much as she had. But with a violent father and a reputation in tatters, she was forced to strike off on her own. Unfortunately, she had no saleable skills, little money, and that soiled reputation, and she floundered, until she had an encounter with a woman who would change her life.

One drawback, for me at least, to this kind of retelling is that I keep looking for all the landmarks of the original tale. The description of Charlotte as resembling "a foreigner who found native customs baffling and, on occasion, patently ridiculous" rang true. Oh, look – Baker Street. Ah, Watson. "My niece… moved to Paris to study medicine" – hmmm … Doctor Watson? I find it detracts from the story I'm actually reading when I can't stop tracking it against others.

I made a note in the middle somewhere that Charlotte's crutch is food, rather than the cocaine Holmes relies upon. And I'm trying to decide whether that works or not. Doyle foresaw the same sort of problem rock stars have faced since touring became a thing – once the high of performance, the constant work and activity, instant feedback, cheering crowds, noise and energy is ended for the time being, it leaves a craving, and without more work on hand the only recourse seems to be drugs. Holmes injects a seven-percent solution to compensate – and Charlotte sits down to tea. "The butter disappeared into the soft, spongy interior of the warm roll. Such a sight had always comforted Charlotte before—and turned her mind blissfully empty when she bit into it." (I'll give you a moment to cool off from such explicit food porn. Fan yourself. Go get a roll of your own if you have to. Or a chocolate chip cookie.) Was it this kind of oblivion that Holmes looked for in the ampoule? But sugar and cholesterol are not very beneficial to thought processes …

The writing was not entirely reliable. There were a few moments I stopped to look at a word used in a way I did not expect (example: "You will regret it relentlessly" just doesn't seem correct). The main annoyance I found, though, was an odd recurrence of "and how". This is a phrase I associate with kids of the fifties and sixties – think Opie Taylor. Yet here is the tale of a young lady of late 1800's London, and … "Charlotte never thought she'd salivate over a cup of tea—and how." (According to Merriam Webster the first known use was 1865; another website says 1924 and calls it an Americanism. Not to disparage Merriam Webster, but I'm with phrases.org on this one.)

So … I don't know. It was an entertaining take on the Holmes legend, but it was jarring in some ways to try to fit the two together. I enjoyed it, mostly … but I'm not rushing out to get the rest of the series. We'll see.

And in case you're wondering, as I did, the Wheatstone machine was an early telegraph. Which was kind of obvious in context.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review. ( )
  Stewartry | Apr 14, 2017 |
Sherry Thomas is one of those authors I pick up to reread when I'm in the slumps. She, along with a handful of authors out there, is one who can weave a tale of romance with élan and keep me coming back for more. Her name alone sold me on this title and as I dug deeper into this story, I was pleasantly surprised at how she weaved this tale in a wholly new genre of the previous tales that I've read from her.

The first thing that hit me was, how refreshing to have gender reversal of the famous Sherlock Holmes! This story was fascinating from the get-go. It captured my imagination from page one and held me glued to it until the very end.

This is one of those stories that is filled with complex and three-dimensional characters who elevate this story into a fascinating mystery . Its characters are endlessly entertaining and intriguing. The twists and turns in the story are many and I dare you to figure it out before the vary end.

If the name of the author doesn't sell you on this story, I bet the "female" Sherlock Holmes will! LOVED IT!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher
( )
  bookworm2bookworm | Mar 30, 2017 |
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself

Charlotte Holmes refuses to mold herself to society's expectations of who a lady should be. Forced to fend for herself, she becomes entangled in the mysteries society tries to hide from the light of day.

Sherlock Holmes is my all-time favorite literary character, and I am always intrigued by twists on the canon. I really enjoyed the nods Thomas gave to canon stories and characters, especially in the last chapter.

I also love strong female protagonists, and Charlotte is very much her own woman. And while she is strong and brilliant, she is also human, allowing her to be easy to relate to as well.

There were way too many characters for me to keep track of. I got confused, especially towards the end, with who was who, and how they were connected. This affected my enjoyment of the solution of the mystery, because I wasn't sure I understood it all.

I had really high expectations for this book, given the positive reviews and accolades I had seen it getting, as well as the subject material. And it just didn't live up to them for me. It's by no means a bad book, but the mystery gets lost among the multitudes of characters and double (and even triple) identities.

I don't plan to be in a rush to pick up the rest of the series, though someday I might return to it in hopes that the author has tightened up the story lines and characters. ( )
  seasonsoflove | Mar 3, 2017 |
**This book was reviewed for the Manhattan and Seattle Book Reviews**

Thomas’ A Study in Scarlet Women is a unique reimagining of the tales of the Great Detective. Charlotte Holmes is a young lady born to aristocratic Victorian Age parents. As such, she is expected to find a suitable marriage match before too many Seasons have run course, else she be doomed to spinsterhood. Charlotte, though, has other plans. For one, the person she truly loves is unattainable. Second, she is highly intelligent, with a quick, inquisitive mind, things seen as undesirable in a wife.

A failed promise on her father's part has Charlotte taking matters into her own hands, and soon estranged by choice from her family. She takes up with a former actress, a Mrs Watson, who soon finds use for Charlotte's quick mind. Under the assumed name of ‘Sherlock’ (close enough to Charlotte, and not the masculine equivalent), she begins to take cases from clients, using her skills to help them. Charlotte has already had some success in aiding Scotland Yard, via letters from 'Sherlock’, in making headway into a very public profile case.

I found this book somewhat scattered until the point Mrs Watson finds Charlotte. Other than vague hints that make not much sense unless you happened to read the book blurb, no connection is made between Charlotte and Sherlock at first, which just seems odd given that *we already know*. That’s not a big reveal. It's just confusing if, for some reason, you haven't read the back of the cover. Or even if you have… I kept second-guessing if I had read correctly and finally went back and reread the back cover. Another sticky point for me is the method of retaliation Charlotte chose. She's very intelligent. I found it somewhat difficult to believe she wouldn't have worked through all the consequences of these actions, and just chosen to leave the family without all that. Part, I get, is revenge against her parents. Part I can chalk up to sheltered youth. These things almost netted 3*, but the factors below redeemed it.

That being said, I did love it once Charlotte met Mrs Watson. The pace picked up considerably, and the threads drew together. I loved the title’s play on the original A Study in Scarlet, and how that theme kept showing up. I enjoyed matching characters to their Canon compatriots, and seeing how these new relationships worked. I won't give any away here. That was half the fun, for me anyway. I felt this underlying story, though still one of revenge, was so much harsher than Doyle's original, dealing with a crime so dastardly that even hardened criminals, hardened killers, will reap vengeance upon one convicted of such, if thrust into their midst.

🎻🎻🎻🎻 Recommended, especially if you enjoy Holmesian variant stories. I eagerly await the next book! ( )
  PardaMustang | Dec 19, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sherry Thomasprimary authorall editionscalculated
Colucci, AlanaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Estreicher, TiffanyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rebenshied, ShaneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the beautiful person and constant delight that is Sean.
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Had anyone told the Honorable Harrington Sackville that the investigation into his death would make the name Sherlock Holmes known throughout the land, Mr. Sackville would have scoffed.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 042528140X, Paperback)

USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down…
 
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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 08 May 2016 08:34:05 -0400)

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