Oh, this was so close to being my first five star read of the year. If I hadn’t been a little confused by the ending (lots of similar sounding names, and an intricate mystery denouement) it definitely would have been.
This is the first book in Sherry Thomas’s Victorian historical mystery series, Lady Sherlock, where Sherlock is a lady. Her name is actually Charlotte, a disgraced young noble lady who is genius level intelligent, and is trying to find a way to make a living in the world as an independent person. She is thrust into this when a plan to blackmail her parents into letting her get an education fails terribly.
I had so much fun with this. And I will admit, going in I wasn’t that into the idea of it (which is why it’s taken me years to get around to reading, even though I’ve owned it forever). I have not had good luck with genderbent Sherlock Holmes stories (fanfic or traditionally published) in the past. There is usually something lost in the bending, some key Sherlockian ingredient that gets my juices flowing. That was not the case here! Sherry Thomas did the perfect thing, which was not to directly translate the characters and stories, but sort of spin them off and do new versions that still retain characteristics of the old, but also bring something completely new. She also did such a good job with the historical atmosphere and dialogue. It felt cozy and old-fashioned right away, and I absolutely fell in love with Charlotte (our Sherlock). The mystery, despite being slightly confusing, was intricate and fun to try and puzzle out. I did not solve it!
My favorite bits were the relationships Charlotte had with, in order: 1) Mrs. Watson (a new friend she also thinks of as “her true mother,” who she schemes with), 2) Her childhood friend Lord Ingram (so much agonizing star-crossed pining), and 3) Her sister Livia, who is having a bit of gender-informed identity crisis herself.
It took me way too long to catch on that Treadles was an anagram for Lestrade. Who I also enjoyed in this book! He has a sweet relationship with his wife, even if it is a bit too hard for him to wrap his mind around how his wife could possibly want anything more out of life than a relationship with him. The distress he experiences is real, and I did laugh at him. I hope he comes to terms with it in future books.