Book Review: ‘A Study In Scarlet Women’ Starts Auspiciously But Then Gradually Disimproves


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 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.

I found the premise of a female Sherlock Holmes interesting and really looked forward to it as a good Autumn read. It starts out in a promising way, with apparent murders galore and then add the upper echelons of English society with all of their shenanigans and brutal condemnations of the lower classes and I sometimes wonder how the English people as a nation, survived to become what they are today.

However, we turn to Lord Ingram Ashburton, a major player in what unfolds but his connection to Charlotte Holmes is never laid out fully, that there is a connection and a passionate one displayed by Charlotte and brutally held back by Ashburton, it is never satisfying and you are left wondering what is not being explained.

Roger Shrewsbury is the idiotic rogue of the story and so neatly maneuvered by Charlotte, you want to join with his wife in beating him black and blue. The policeman, a central character in our rambling narrative, is Inspector Robert Treadles of the Metropolitan Police and an admirer of Lord Ingram, an accomplished archaeologist and a bridge between Holmes and the police, is neatly fashioned.

It should be stated that Charlotte has had herself deflowered by an ex-suitor, now married. The reason being she does not wish to marry anybody. Since Ingram went and married someone else, she wants to be educated and independent. Her father had promised her that if she found no acceptable suitor, he would supply the funds to educate her. But he reneges on his promise so Charlotte renders herself unsuitable marriage material and naturally, everything goes wrong and she is out in the big, bad world of working class women.

The story is very convoluted and badly tied together. You struggle (or at least I did), trying to read the clues to the three murders and Holmes’ ability to solve this mess leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. The final outcome is very short and almost an afterthought. I know another book is coming next year and the characters from this one, for the most part, are well-drawn and where applicable, neatly placed in the book. It has humor, a sly humor that brings a giggle here and there.

Holmes as a woman and her sidekick Watson, is an idea you need to think about, not that they are not capable of the intricacies of solving murder most foul, but the real war is removing Holmes and Watson’s genders and making it work for you. Best of luck with that!

Available in book stores October 18th


Ann McDonald

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