Review: A Study in Scarlet Women – Sherry Thomas
by Sherry Thomas
Series: Lady Sherlock #1
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.
When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her.
But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.
Content warnings: View Spoiler »eating disorder, fat phobia, homophobia, verbal abuse, child abuse (including sexual), suicide, threats to forcibly out a gay minor character « Hide Spoiler
Despite not caring that much about the original material, I have a thing for Sherlock retellings. While I knew that this starred a female Sherlock, I hadn’t realized that Watson and Moriarty were also women!
This suffers from serious first book syndrome (so! many! characters! with backstories!), but it really picks up in the second half. I found the exploration of the limits placed on women by society fascinating and frustrating, but I loved watching Charlotte and Mrs. Watson alternately bulldoze through them or carefully skirt around them. One of the constraints was that most of the investigation and in-person detective work was done from the POV of a police detective. While I liked Treadles, I was always eager to get back to Charlotte’s POV.
When we finally get to the actual mystery – after a lot of exposition on Charlotte’s childhood – I thought it was pretty decent. There were lots of nice twists and turns, with enough foreshadowing to expect the final big twist. But, like the rest of the book, it moves quite slowly, and there were parts in the middle where I just wanted something, anything, to happen, other than endless interviews.
One other quibble – instead of drugs, Charlotte has an unhealthy relationship with food. This part of the story was very uncomfortable for me to read, so it’s hard for me to view this objectively, but I think it was a necessary character flaw for her.
Overall, I enjoyed the overall feel of the book, and I’ve already got the next out from the library.