RogerBW's Blog

A Study in Scarlet Women, Sherry Thomas 05 February 2019

2016 mystery story, first of the Lady Sherlock series. Charlotte Holmes has an analytical mind, but feels constrained by the roles expected of her by Victorian society. So she does something Frightful…

Well, that's not at all what I was expecting; I was thinking I'd get something basically frothy, in the vein of Carole Nelson Douglas' books about Irene Adler, but while there's plenty of froth on top this turned out to be something rather more substantial, a slow-burning mystery with a strong and vital feminist core.

Yes, obviously the core is a gender-swapped Holmes (and Watson), and the case is (very loosely) inspired by A Study in Scarlet, but Thomas has taken the basics and gone off in a more interesting direction. This Holmes isn't the "thinking machine" that purists claim to prefer, though there are the obligatory moments of perspicacious observation; she likes food and fripperies, but is entirely at sea when it comes to polite conversation.

Many of the names and usages of language sound just slightly wrong to a British ear (for example, "quid" for a pound is rather informal for the contexts in which it's used here). There are more viewpoints than I'd ideally like. But the characters are solid, and so is the mystery, and that's what I really came for.

Definitely not one to read if you want more of the classic Holmes, but remarkably good in its own right; if anything, the "Holmes" connection does it a disservice. Followed by A Conspiracy in Belgravia.

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Series: Lady Sherlock | Next in series: Charlotte Holmes and the Locked Box

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