The Last of August
Charlotte Holmes is back! In the sequel to A Study in Charlotte, this generation’s Sherlock descendent and her best friend Jamie Watson are spending the holidays together in England. The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro takes the two to Holmes’ house in Sussex over winter break.
They’re uncomfortable together, after all that happened in the last book, including explosions and Watson almost dying. He thinks he loves her, but there’s trauma between them, and she’s a rape survivor, and so events are tricky, complicated by Watson’s mother’s hatred of the Holmeses and the Holmes family’s upscale remoteness.
It makes for a great read, though. Who would have thought Sherlock filtered through Gossip Girl would be so entertaining? Mostly because this Watson is much more self-aware, with wonderful turns of phrase in his internal monologues. Describing a portrait of Sherlock, with Dr. Watson resting “a reassuring hand on his friend’s shoulder,” Jamie thinks,
I looked at that hand for a long minute and wondered how many times Sherlock Holmes had tried to shake it off. Watsons, I thought, generations of masochists.
The original Holmes and Watson stories are puzzles, with emotions included only as plot twists (and often not resembling real people’s motivations at all). This turns the genre on its head, with so much adolescent feeling, and yet it all works together. Charlotte is both very much a Holmes and still a teenage girl.
Charlotte’s favorite uncle has been undercover in Berlin to break open a gang of art forgers. Her brother Milo also lives there, running a surveillance company, and the long-standing rivalry with the Moriartys is flaring up. A whole lot of broken people are playing games with each other with tragic outcomes.
Good thing it’s only a novel. The Last of August is second in the trilogy, and I’m glad, because I need another book to figure out the meaning of some of the events in the end. Or to see their consequences.
The publisher has posted the first two chapters online. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)