The Case for Jamie: Charlotte Holmes, Book 3

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Case for Jamie: Charlotte Holmes, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Edgy, thrilling, complex "finale" leaves doors open.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Occasional references to poets, authors, or the topic of a class, but more thrills than education in this installment.

Positive Messages

Amid a lot of darkness, dysfunction, and murderous insanity, there's also a strong message of support for struggling with your problems and circumstances, and rising above them thanks to your own efforts and the loving support of others.  Also, resourcefulness and quick thinking in support of your friends.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nobody's perfect here: Jamie and Charlotte in particular often act unwisely, and well-meaning adults often do the wrong thing or otherwise fall short. But as Jamie struggles to come to terms with his feelings for Charlotte, and Charlotte struggles to rise above her insanely dysfunctional family, her own past, and the drugs that were part of it, they show much strength of character, and some of their ethical quandaries offer food for thought. While Charlotte's parents are pathological, her uncle Leander does his best to protect and care for her. Rich girl Lena Gupta returns in a few scenes, stealing the show and saving the day with creative thinking and social connections.

Violence

Not much gore, but violence is a constant presence, with a murderous, scheming villain who will stop at nothing and a harrowing scene in which a teen character is forced into a situation of choosing to shoot a child. In a flashback, Charlotte's father tries to kill Jamie as part of a suicide attempt. Occasional references to Charlotte having been raped, as related in Book 1; the murder that ends Book 2 is often revisited.

Sex

There's no explicit sex here; when two characters ultimate have sex, it's described after the fact in terms of its emotional effects. But there's plenty of sexual tension in complicated relationships, besides Jamie and Charlotte's: wealthy men with expensive mistresses and cheating spouses, breakups and reconnection among the prep-schoolers  -- and the fact that Jamie's dad's second marriage seems to be going the way of his first, as his wife loses patience with his spending all his time with BFF Leander Holmes, who's gay.

Language

Numerous "f--k," "s--t," "damn," "goddamn," "bastard," "bloody," "ass."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Campus drug dealing and a druggy prep school party involving a character who brings a bag full of Ecstasy tablets are important to the plot. Charlotte relates a lot of her past drinking- and drug-related adventures, including rehab stints and partying afterwards with ex-rehab buddies, but struggles to stay clean and not take the oxycodone tablets she carries everywhere.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Case for Jamie is the third volume in Brittany Cavallaro's Charlotte Holmes series. Like the first two, it features murderously insane villains, dysfunctional or deranged families, convoluted plots where few characters are exactly what they seem, and sexually charged relationships. Also teen sex (though the narrator focuses on emotion rather than explicit detail); drinking and drug use (though the protagonist's struggles to stay clean are a big part of the story); and lots of swear words (e.g. "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "bastard," "goddamn"). Amid the darkness, though, there's a thrilling tale of two teens trying to rise above their flawed (or worse) families and their own demons to become something better and do right by each other. Also defeat their evil foe once and for all.

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What's the story?

THE CASE FOR JAMIE opens a year after the catastrophic events at the end of Book 2, since which Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes, now 17, haven't seen each other or been in touch. And in different ways, it's messing with their lives, as Jamie, now in his senior year at prep school and with a steady girlfriend, nurses a broken heart, a sense of betrayal, and endless replays of how it all went so wrong. Charlotte, back in the U.S., is closer than he thinks, still obsessed with murderous Moriartys, trying to stay off drugs, and looking out for Jamie from afar.  When an unknown person seems to be targeting Jamie, who's soon being lured by fake texts and framed for a theft at a drug-soaked party, the two BFFs reunite to protect their loved ones. And maybe get past their dysfunctional families to sort out their relationships.

Is it any good?

Winding up the "trilogy" nicely but leaving plenty of of room for further developments, the reunion of Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson is thrilling, scary, edgy, funny, and sweet. Filled with creepy villains, sinister peril, assorted insane behavior, foul-mouthed teens, and, at one point, a reunion scene  so well-timed and perfectly crafted it'll have you reading it more than once. Author Brittany Cavallaro is in top form with The Case for Jamie, and her decision to let Charlotte's  fierce, desperately determined narrative voice tell much of the story pays off many times.

"Really, if it were going to be over, finally over, I'd take the knife out of my boot and drive its point through that Moriarty thug's throat to know, once and for all, that one less man would be chasing Watson. That Watson would be that one small bit safer."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Sherlock Holmes, and all the tales (and fictional relatives) he's acquired over the years. What's the appeal of Holmes tales, and how does The Case for Jamie stack up?

  • How do you think the story might be different if Jamie and Charlotte were American, rather than Brits studying in New England?

  • Do you think it would be fun to dress really differently from your usual style and assume a different character in places where you're not known? Who would you be?

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