A Question of Holmes

A Question of Holmes

Turns out that the trilogy that began with A Study in Charlotte now has four books. I read A Question of Holmes, the final, in the hopes that it would resolve some of the many tangles built up so far. (The cast became too large in the second, The Last of August. I think I read the third, The Case for Jamie, but I don’t recall much about it and definitely didn’t like it.) I was distinctly disappointed.

The characters are still intriguing, but Charlotte narrates this one, which means we get very little of Jamie Watson. Making a Watson more than a sidekick is where there’s lots of room for improvement over much of the past Sherlock Holmes canon, so losing his perspective — particularly since here, Charlotte is very ambivalent over how to treat him and how much time to spend with him — is a distinct problem with this book.

The two are at Oxford for a summer program, where they meet three other students who were friends with a missing fourth girl. Retrospective mysteries are difficult at the best of times, and this one doesn’t benefit from everyone telling each other stories while Charlotte tells us who’s wrong but doesn’t go into detail.

A Question of Holmes

Honestly, all I remember from this are intriguing premises that wind up in a muddled mess. The theme, about trying to find yourself in spite of family expectations, is one many younger readers can relate to, but all the pieces never come together into anything satisfying. There are too many people appearing, many of them interesting, but never getting enough time with any of them is frustrating. Particularly when we’re told how interesting they are without seeing it for ourselves.

I get the impression that author Brittany Cavallaro had a lot of things to work out, and the results took her, and the characters, much further away from the original plan than intended. Maybe I’m spoiled by wanting more happy endings these days. (God knows we could all use some.) An open-ended twist on an eternally famous premise isn’t what I wanted, nor what I had hoped for for the leads.

It’s as though the way she’s written these characters has made them no longer right for each other, which is understandable when you’re talking about teen love, but not when you’re writing a Holmes and Watson. I would have liked to have seen rework on this to make a tighter story and a more believable ending, given the history she’s standing on.


  • Gratz on elegantly avoiding 100-year-old spoiler.

  • Did I? Which was that? I was a bit vaguer than usual because I’d already returned the book to the library when I decided to write it up, because my reviews of the earlier titles were more positive than I remembered (and the series deserved).

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