Elise Reviews: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

A Study in Scarlet Women is a retelling of the Sherlock Holmes classic, A Study in Scarlet, with one big difference- “Sherlock” is actually Charlotte. All Charlotte Holmes has ever wanted was control of her own life and a say in her future. But it is roughly 1980 in London, England and even that is far too much for a women to hope for. Seeing no other way out Charlotte makes a desperate choice that results in her being cast out of society. To make matters worse this decision results in the implication of her sister and father in a murder. In an attempt to divert the suspicion from her family she writes to the inspector investigating the murder as Sherlock Holmes. The inspector is fascinated by “Sherlock” and “his” practically supernatural deductive powers and continues to pursue “his” assistance in the investigation.  Meanwhile, in the real world, Charlotte is taken in by the former performer Mrs. Watson, a kind widow who understands what it is to be shunned as a result of her time on the stage. Mrs. Watson soon recognizes Charlotte’s brilliant mind and together they concoct a scheme. They begin receiving clients by posing as Sherlock’s sister and Mrs. Hudson, the landlord of 221B Baker Street.

By recasting Sherlock as a woman the author shines light on the challenges and perils women faced during the time period. A Study in Scarlet Women also showcases the power of female friendship and the ability of women to support one another. Although this story was a retelling with a lot of similarity to its original incarnation the author keeps the reader guessing, casting suspicion all around until you are either completely unsure of who the murder is or you are completely sure you know (you don’t). I tend to switch back and forth from book to audio, if I am able to get both, and I can’t recommend the audio enough. The narrator does an absolutely fabulous job bringing the characters to life. If you are a fan of the original novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or of Sherlock’s more recent incarnation on BBC then you will love this story. This story is also very much about the struggle women have experienced in their fight to be seen as equal.  If the themes of this story sound interesting to you then I highly recommend A Study in Scarlet Women. You can click here to place a hold on it through our online catalog. If Victorian Mysteries with strong female characters are your cup of tea (see what I did there?) check out the titles below that NoveList suggests you might also enjoy:

Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick

The Kern Secretarial Agency provides reliable professional services to its wealthy clientele, and Anne Clifton was one of the finest women in Ursula Kern’s employ. But Miss Clifton has met an untimely end—and Ursula is convinced it was not due to natural causes. Both A Study in Scarlet Women and Garden of Lies are mysteries set in the Victorian era that are atmospheric, romantic, and suspenseful. Click here to place a hold on it through our online catalog.


A Foreign Affair by Caro Peacock

The year is 1837. Queen Victoria, barely eighteen, has just ascended to the throne of England, and a young woman named Liberty Lane has just had her first taste of true sorrow. Refusing to accept that her gentle, peace-loving father has been killed fighting a duel, she vows to see justice done.The trail she follows is a twisting and dangerous one, leading the spirited young Englishwoman into an intricate weave of conspiracy. A Foreign Affair is also a suspenseful mystery set in Victorian England featuring a strong and independent female lead. Click here to place a hold on it through our online catalog.