I want to start off this review with a comment about these covers: I don’t like them. There are very few instances where I can say that I don’t like the original covers of a series, but this is definitely one of them. I can’t even really say what it is about them I don’t like, but they really turn me off. If I didn’t know anything about these books, I would not pick them up in a bookstore for a look. I just did a quick search to see if there were some foreign covers that were better, but nope. Everyone seems to be using these. I did see a sort of Manga style one from Japan that was ok and one from Germany that was almost even worse, but nope. I don’t know what I would do different, but they really need to just overhaul them.
Okay, enough ranting about the covers. The stories inside them are great, and even though they seem to be getting darker as we go along, I am still enjoying them. The last one was a little tougher than the first two though, but I will talk about them in order.
If you don’t know anything about the books, they are about Charlotte Holmes and James Watson, descendents of the infamous pair. They meet up at a boarding school in Connecticut, where they are drawn into a murder mystery conspiracy that has its roots in the original stories. And of course there are descendents of the Moriarty family involved as well.
I originally picked up A Study in Charlotte as an audiobook. I knew from the title that it had something to do with Sherlock Holmes, so I took a chance on it. And I was glad I did because I loved it! I have in the past had mixed feelings about some of the retellings of the Holmes stories and characters, but this one was different. I really enjoyed the characters, I loved that there were little splashes of the original stories and inside jokes to Holmes fans. I really liked that Jamie told most of the story, just like Watson always did. I liked the development of their characters and relationship. Charlotte’s character was great, I totally saw her as a descendent of Sherlock, brought up to be just like her ancestor, which I have got to say is a bit twisted. I got a kick out of Jamie’s father’s notes about how to care for a Holmes. It was awesome. The plot was also solid with lots of twists and turns that kept you guessing. I also loved the boarding school setting, it was the perfect place for them to meet up.
The second book, The Last of August, I first read but recently did the audiobook. I was a little disappointed by it, many of the things that I loved about the first book were not in this one. Also Charlotte and Jamie’s characters were developing in ways that were not healthy for them or their relationship. Both of them can see it, but neither of them seem to be able to stop it. This story had them running around Europe trying to solve an art forgery ring, as well as the disappearance of Charlotte’s uncle Leander and her mother being poisoned. The plot was almost too complicated and I found myself just as lost and confused as Jamie was most of the time. It is still told mostly by Jamie, although there are a few chapters by Charlotte. We see a bit more about what it might have meant growing up in the Holmes household for Charlotte which gives a lot of insight into her character. We also finally meet one of the Moriarty, August, who is sort of a friend of Charlotte’s and is working for her brother Milo. I liked August a lot although like Jamie I never really trusted him. The ending of this one was a bit mind blowing and a little bit abrupt as well. While I did like this book I didn’t love it as much as the first, so I set my hopes on the next one being better.
I really struggled with The Case For Jamie. First there was the dual narration, which I understood why the author did it that way, but I still found it hard to read. Jamie and Charlotte spend most of the book apart from each other. We get the story of what is happening in alternating chapters, which was a little frustrating. Charlotte’s narration was rambly at times and I often found myself having to reread sections because I kept feeling like I missed something. I did like the fact that we got a whole lot more information about what it was like for Charlotte growing up, and it isn’t pretty. She had it tough, having emotionally distant parents and not having any friends really. I think Charlotte really wants to be a good person, and a good friend, she just doesn’t know how. Jamie’s narrative was also a bit tough. He is suffering from PTSD and we do eventually get more information about what happened after the end of book two from him but it came late in the story. If we had that information earlier I might have understood his story a bit better. He is really trying to lead a normal life, but just isn’t very successful at it. When they finally do get together the story gets so much better. That last 100 pages of the book are the best. The action finally picks up and so much of what has been going on is finally explained in way that makes sense. It is the last 100 pages that keep me from giving this book a low rating. I also loved the e-mail exchange between Charlotte and James at the end of the book. It gives me hope that their characters are continuing to grow and get better.
There is at least one more book planned in this series, and again I am hopeful that it will be good. From the email exchange at the end of the third book I’m a little bit hopeful that it won’t be quite so dark and a little bit more like the first one. I only hope that the remarks about Reichenbach are not a foreshadowing of the end of the series.