Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Study in Charlotte Audio

A Study in Charlotte Audio

Brittany Cavallaro
For ages 13 and up
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Graham Halstead and Julia Whelan
HarperCollins Publishers and Blackstone Audio, 2016   ISBN: 978-1504696098

In the late 1800’s Sherlock Holmes and his trusted friend and associate, Dr. Watson, worked together to solve mysteries and to fight against villains of all kinds. Many generations later the Holmes and Watson families are still around, and the two youngest members of the family are James Watson and Charlotte Holmes. James, or Jamie, has often dreamed of what it would be like to join up with Charlotte, to become detectives who pursue spies and other villains around Europe to bring them to justice. Unfortunately, James’ mother thinks that the members of the Holmes family are rather peculiar, and therefore James has never met Charlotte and knows little about her.

Then Jamie is awarded a rugby scholarship in a boarding school in Connecticut. The opportunity is too good to miss, especially as the school he was attending in London was frightfully expensive and his parents are not wealthy. In addition, Jamie’s father lives near the school and it is hoped that the boy and his father might be able to build a relationship as they have seen so little of each other since the divorce.

Soon after he arrives at the school Jamie finally meets Charlotte Holmes. She bowls him over with her striking looks, and he almost instantly taken with her. His feelings for the girl are so strong that when another student, Dobson, says some truly vile things about Charlotte, Jamie goes for him and a fight breaks out. Charlotte arrives on the scene and more heated words are thrown around. Painful truths see the light of day and Charlotte makes it clear that she does not need or want Jamie to defend her honor.

In the early hours of the next morning Jamie is woken up by the sound of shouting. He soon learns that Dobson is dead. The bully went to bed and never woke up. Not surprisingly, the police are very interested in interviewing Jamie and Charlotte, both of whom appear to have a good reason for wishing Dobson ill. Jamie goes to confer with Charlotte about their situation and the next thing he knows he is breaking into the crime scene so that she can collect evidence.

Jamie soon finds out that Charlotte really is a great deal like her famous ancestor. She has been trained to be a detective, a specialist in deductive reasoning, and she also has a small but well stocked lab in the school which she uses to conduct tests. Thanks to her skills, Charlotte figures out that Dobson was poisoned with arsenic and that the room in which he died was staged so that it would look like a crime scene from The Speckled Band, one of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Clearly someone is framing Jamie and Charlotte for the murder, but the teens have no idea who their enemy is.

The more Jamie finds out about Charlotte the more confused he gets. She is a mercurial girl with a drug habit, who happens to be brilliant but who has very few social skills. She is very alone in the world, trusts no one, and guards her secrets fiercely. She won’t even tell Jamie about events in her past that could, potentially, have something to do with what is happening to them now. Even when another student almost dies, Charlotte remains as elusive and as impossible as ever, and Jamie does not really know how to deal with her. At the same time, he cannot help feeling close to her, seeing perhaps how fragile she is.

This is the first audio title of what promises to be a thrilling trilogy. Secrets from the past, old alliances and enemies, and complicated personal relationships make this book rich, unpredictable, and thrilling from start to finish. When it comes to the Holmes and Watson families, often what you see is all an illusion.