A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Study in Charlotte, the first installment in a planned trilogy, features the 16-year-old descendants of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in a lurid boarding-school mystery set in Connecticut, with plenty of drugs, alcohol, gambling, and violence, including rape and murder. Brilliant, troubled Charlotte Holmes has been solving high-profile mysteries since childhood -- and dabbling in hard drugs just as long. Reluctant rugby star Jamie Watson struggles to be a good friend and keep her out of trouble but has issues of his own, from a rage problem to an estranged father. Typically for dark-side-of-boarding-school tales, there's plenty of drinking, drugging, and crude language, including "f--k," "s--t," "ass," and "wanker," as Charlotte and Jamie try to find the killer who's trying to frame them -- or actually kill them.
What's the story?
As far as 16-year-old Jamie Watson is concerned, the only good thing about being shipped off to a posh boarding school in Connecticut is he'll finally meet Charlotte Holmes, who's also there. Relations between their families have been dicey since Sherlock and Dr. Watson's lifetimes, but Jamie has always been thrilled by her crime-solving exploits and secretly dreamed of being her sidekick on wild adventures. The reality turns out to be quite a bit more complicated: Charlotte is brilliant, beautiful, bitter, and druggy, and Jamie is soon under her spell. When her recent rapist turns up murdered in a scene straight out of "The Speckled Band," she and Jamie realize that someone's trying to frame them -- or worse. But who, and why?
Is it any good?
The latest page-turning entry in the Holmes-and-Watson spin-off genre finds their present-day teen descendants trying to stay alive and out of jail as an unknown murderer stalks their boarding school. A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE (playing on the title of the first Sherlock Holmes tale) offers an edgy, complicated, snarky title character in 16-year-old Charlotte Holmes; a relatable, engaging narrator and friend in Jamie Watson; and a boarding-school setting full of hearty-partying rich kids and mysterious killers. There's also a bit of James Bond-style international intrigue, as it soon becomes clear that powerful hidden forces lurk just out of sight. Some of the darker elements (drugs, rape, murder, and people's lives being ruined) demand a mature reader, but the odd, compelling friendship of the two teens and the frequent plot twists keep things interesting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson stories, and why people keep making up more of them. How does this one compare with others you've read or seen?
What do you think of stories that take characters from other tales and put them in new situations? Do you think this is interesting, or do you think people should make up their own characters?
What food would you really miss if you moved somewhere it wasn't available?
- Author: Brittany Cavallaro
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
- Publication date: March 1, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
For kids who love mysteries and spy stories
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.