I just finished reading two Sherlock Holmes novels by Sherry Thomas. The first in the series is called “A Study in Scarlet Women” while the second is “A Conspiracy in Belgravia.” I liked both of them a lot but I felt, in the first book at least, it took a long time to get into the story.
I knew from the blurb on the cover that Thomas had invented a new Sherlock, so well into the middle of the book I was still trying to figure things out as I read. Certainly a lot was happening, like Charlotte Holmes allowing herself to be “ruined” so that she could live her life as she wanted. However, given how important Charlotte’s role in the book was, I was suspicious right from the start.
Spoiler alert! Of course, Charlotte turns out to be Sherlock and the second book refers immediately to her as Lady Sherlock.
Both stories are fast paced and have lots of action and angst, particularly in the second book with respect to loyalty. As to the characters, they are so well described and presented I either liked or hated them immediately. But, it is the settings that are amazing because, literally, every house, flat and scene are true to the Victorian Period — particularly with respect to the role of women and what women had to do in order to be able to take control of their own lives.
If I have any complaint about these books it is that having a female Sherlock Holmes aided by a Mrs. Watson, and living at an Upper Baker Street address, very close to Arthur Conan Doyle’s 221B Baker Street, doesn’t seem realistic. But that complaint does not change the fun it was to read them.
I have read several versions of Sherlock Holmes, including the Mary Russell Bee Keeper’s Apprentice series by Laurie R. King. For those who haven’t read that series, I would highly recommend it as Mary Russell and a retired Sherlock, get married and experience many adventures and mysteries together.
But, while I am not sure a female Sherlock is as believable as Doyle’s or King’s versions, in all fairness to Thomas, putting forth a new version of Sherlock Holmes does have a certain brilliance to it.
The crux of the matter is that both books are good mysteries and fun to imagine. As such, I will give both books 5 stars out of 5.
Both books published by Berkeley, New York. A Study in Scarlet Women (2016). A Conspiracy in Belgravia (2017).