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A Study In Scarlet Women

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Study In Scarlet Women (2016) Sherry Thomas

Let me be blunt: I never read Sherlock Holmes stories that were not written by ACD. I hate them. I also can’t stand having the character appropriated by other authors. Honestly, I don’t even care as much for the last couple of Sherlock Holmes stories written by ACD. The character feels off to me and I don’t quite enjoy them.

So I immediately dismissed this book when I first came across it, but then I read a review and saw that Sherlock Holmes as he was written by ACD doesn’t appear at all, and I was intrigued.

Charlotte Holmes is an odd woman. She has the characteristics of ACD’s Holmes, but as a woman is required to follow society, and so that informs her character. So she and her friend Lord Ingram come up with Sherlock Holmes, as a reclusive man who sometimes assists the police in their inquiries.

Because she cannot live the life she wants, she decides to destroy her reputation.

“But has your son fared any better? No gentleman would take up with an unmarried young lady from a good family. Does he not share some of the blame?”

“He does.” Lady Shrewsbury sounded as if she were speaking through a mouthful of sand. “And he will hear from his wife and myself. But men are creatures of unbound lust. It is the duty of good women to keep them in check.”

So, how did it hold together as a story? I initially had a difficult time getting into the book. I started several times, and it was only once I got past the initial scene of Charlotte’s ruin that it became interesting. Partially because the story shifts then to Olivia’s POV, and I quite like Livia.

“Lady X is dead.”

Livia braced a hand on the newel post, her incredulity shot through with an incipient dread. “How can that be?”

“They found her expired early this morning. The doctor’s already been and declared it an aneurysm of the brain. But I think it’s divine justice. The way she came and shoved all the blame on us, when it was her own son who was the cad and the bounder? She deserved it.”

Livia shuddered at her mother’s callousness. “I don’t believe the Almighty strikes anyone dead solely for being petty, or even hypocritical.”

It also took awhile for the mystery to develop fully, which didn’t help, since I cared less about Charlotte’s dress and search for a job that I am sure I was supposed to.

And although the female characters were fully developed, as was the Inspector (who I quite liked) I had great difficulty keeping the secondary characters apart, especially since there were a number of characters whose last names started with S and were of a similar length: Sheridan, Sackville, and Shrewsbury–I kept confusing them in my mind, which didn’t help at all.

I also had difficulty believing the valet’s changing of his story.

Treadles didn’t believe him. “If they were truly such pedestrian sins, why did you keep them a secret?”

“Mr. Sackville can’t defend his good name anymore, so it’s up to the rest of us. Men have sinned much worse. But when they die of natural causes, nobody cares what they’ve done in their spare time. Mr. Sackville ought to be given the same privacy— he’d have wanted it.”

Given what Mr. Sackville was doing, I have a very hard time believing that the valet would take steps to try and stop it, but then take such steps to defend him after his death. And to be clear, the valet DID know what was going on, and was horrified by it, and tried to take steps to change or stop it.

His character was simply too inconsistent for me to believe.

That said, I did enjoy the story and think there is a ton of potential here for future stories and I look forward to reading the next book.
Rating: 6.5/10

Published by Berkley

Categories: British, Historical, Mystery, Romance     Comments (0)    



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