Word by Word

Creating myself one word at a time.


Having just finished Deanna Raybourn’s A Curious Beginning, it was interesting to listen to this book. While both tales are about the Victorian period, women who don’t conform and murder most foul, the books have very different paces and atmosphere. Raybourn’s was a rollicking adventure with quick Gilmore Girls-like dialogue.

Thomas’ A Study in Scarlet Women is like a steam train, which starts with a slow roll and then gains speed. By the last few chapters, the train has hopped the tracks and you’re barreling down a steep incline. All this to say, I landed at the end with being plopped at the bottom of the incline a little breathless and having to take stock on what I thought I knew when I began the journey.

Quick note: I listened to the audio version with Kate Reading’s narration. Fantastic! It was tough to follow the first two chapters of the book though because of the changing perspectives. Once I learned the rhythms and the perspectives Thomas was using, it was easy to follow.

What I loved: Charlotte Holmes will make you crazy with both her brilliance and her miscalculated mistakes. I think, in this, Thomas as done a superb job of adapting the well-known male Sherlock to a female in the Victorian era. The chess moves Thomas made to position Charlotte in the role of Sherlock with a cast of supporting characters was delightful. As the last 10 minutes of the book played, I was eager to see where Thomas would take our Charlotte.

Would I recommend?: The Sherlock Holmes mythos is tricky. There are the traditional Holmes tales; the Robert Downey Jr. movies or the Laurie King novels that take on Holmes in later life. There are the modern takes on Holmes. I’m thinking of Elementary on TV or the wonderful Cumberbatch version on BBC. There are radical takes on Holmes with the YA books that imagine modern teens either as Holmes or descendants. This version is something different and the same. I think Thomas’ version could be intriguing even to those who dislike the Sherlock Holmes of Conan Doyle fame. She plays with the mores of the Victorian era and the personality of Holmes and turns it into a story of female empowerment. Even more when you get to the end of the story and learn the true story at the heart of the mystery. So, yes, I would totally recommend this book.

Backlist bonus: I haven’t read any of Sherry Thomas’ other works. However, there is a second book planned for this series in September 2017. I’ll be curious to take a look at other books by Thomas because a quick peek at her backlist looks like historical romance.

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