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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review - Study in Scarlet Women

Sherry Thomas is an acclaimed romance author - regularly receiving starred reviews from trade publications. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA® Award.  

It is a supreme challenge to come up with a new angle for a Sherlock novel, let alone pull any new attempt off successfully.  Ms. Thomas has ventured out from the romance genre and devised and brilliant angle - that Sherlock was actually a woman and she used different methods to conceal it, the stories written by sidekick Watson being only one trick.

Author: Sherry Thomas

Copyright: Oct 2016 (Berkley) 336 pgs

Series: 1st in Lady Sherlock Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild - Adult topics discussed

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Charlotte Holmes, disgraced upper class woman who creates the Sherlock Holmes identity

Setting: 1886, Devonshire and London England

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the cover: "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."

Charlotte Holmes is blond, pretty, feminine, and too smart to be accepted easily in society. Olivia is her loving sister who knows her better than any other. Mrs. John Watson, a retired stage actress initially employs Charlotte as a ladies' companion but quickly becomes her sidekick. Lord Ingram Ashburton, a long time friend and first love, is the go-between for "Sherlock" and a police inspector.  Inspector Robert Treadles is a fan of Sherlock and his advice on several cases, but the case of three society deaths makes him want to consult with Sherlock in person.

In 1886 women were still expected to marry and produce children and weren't considered suited for deep thought or much past a simple painting and playing the piano. Into this setting Charlotte hits the scene with a whip sharp intellect, little desire for domesticity, and little regard for societal mores limiting her.  The setting is the era and it's impact that fashions a lovely - even cherubic looking woman - into the legendary Sherlock. 

The plot is mainly the making of Sherlock with a tantalizing murder mystery to show us how Charlotte deducts and leads the police while maintaining her cover as Sherlock.  The murder is clever and likely wouldn't have been uncovered or even suspected as a murder, if it weren't for Charlotte.  The pacing picks up once Charlotte finds Watson, so the beginning sets the stage.

You likely know how I love a suspenseful killer confrontation, but this was a killer reveal that explains the three deaths and the understanding is such a twist that it serves as it's own suspense.  The wrap-up introduces the re-imagined Moriarty that promises more twists on the established Sherlock mythos.  

This story is pure genius.  Charlotte is so counter to the image of Sherlock and yet it works beautifully.  I feel as though Ms. Thomas, to whom English is a second language, was born to write this and it will be her crowning character and series.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Couldn't put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I have written and published my first cozy mystery - Iced (Resort to Murder #1) by Avery Daniels is on pre-sale for a whopping low price of .99. This low price will be for a limited time only.  The official release day is May 31st. 

Julienne has her ideal job as an event planner at a prestigious resort. During a luncheon event she coordinated, a renowned celebrity pastor is killed next to the buffet. All eyes turn to her as the suspect. If she wants to stay out of jail or even keep her job, Julienne needs all the help she can get to solve the crime. 

She has her work cut out for her with a vengeful high school rival now reporter, the public demanding she be fired, plus family who knows what's best for her, and a boyfriend who doesn't understand her. She turns to friends and a new ally to uncover who wanted to put the pastor on ice. 

Julienne goes undercover and investigates a local swingers group as she follows the trail of clues before they go cold. Can she gather enough suspects and motives to convince the police to her widen their investigation? Can she do it before the killer sets his murderous sights on her? Will her personal life ever be as simple as unveiling a murderer?

Preorder the kindle edition for .99 (click here.)  
Print book and audio is due shortly, I will include link then.

Oh, and if you have a blog and would like to do a spotlight or a review, just leave me a comment.

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