After the train wreck that BBC's Sherlock has become, and since RDJ's too busy being Tony Stark to return to the role, there hasn't been much in the way of good Sherlock adaptations lately. Elementary is actually a lot better than I thought it'd be, but it's still only something I watch when there's nothing else to watch.
I was hoping that this reimagining of the Holmes-verse would fill the void. Unfortunately, when you get a gender-swapped Sherlock Holmes - here named Charolette Holmes - you get a protag who is into froo-froo fashion, closely monitors the size of her double chin, and has a love interest despite having no interest in love or marriage. But she doesn't mind the idea of being some guy's mistress some day, as long as it's the right guy. Because girls need love interests, dontcha know! *sigh*
We also get a big long familial drama llama to give Charolette an origin story which gets her out the trappings of marriage
by becoming a big ho. *gasp* Or the Victorian England version of a big ho. Which means she gets one married guy to boink her once. She figures that way, she can blackmail her dad into living up to his promise to see her educated or she'll tell everyone about said boinking. Unfortunately, that cat got out of the bag before she could put her nefarious scheme to good use. And now she's sloppy seconds with loose morals that no one respectable will be seen dead with. ... Unless they are dead and she's solving their murder.
She couldn't just have one of those cool, forward-thinking dads who realizes his daughter's not suited for marriage. Nope, no education for his inquisitive genius. That'd be too simple.
So it's not until a good half of the book passes before we even get to the new Watson (who's pretty cool but not a doctor, or even a midwife or a healer) and the duo start to get down to the business of solving small little mysteries.
Meantime, Inspector Treadles is corresponding with who he thinks is Sherlock via his friend Lord Ingraham to get help solving a case. "I sure wish A.C. Doyle had written a story from the POV of Lestrade," said nobody ever, but we get that here anyway. Treadles is a nice bloke and all, and very sharp, doing much of the legwork himself and getting the job done just fine with just a couple of letters from Sherlock. He doesn't even meet Charolette face to face until the second half of the book.
And then Charolette has to go through this whole ruse of pretending Sherlock is sick in the room next door and hearing everything they say, because she's smart enough to know no man will listen to her on her own. Of course, there's only so long this ruse can last before it's discovered, so I'm glad the story ends with Treadles in the know.
Livia, Charlotte's sister, is sweet enough but not too prominent a character in this first book.
She will fill the role of chronicler, though, and she'll rewrite the real mysteries into fictionalized versions of them, so that this becomes the original A Study in Scarlet.
All the interconnections of the various lords and ladies and high society is pretty bland. And the killer
gets away scot free. Which really is fine with me, considering the killer did society a huge, huge favor, but still! There was no confrontation with the killer. Charlotte gets a note from the killer that explains everything. The end!
This story read more like bad Jane Austen fanfic than like a Sherlock Holmes mystery, and that expectation clash meant it took me awhile to get on board with what the story was doing and with the large cast of regular characters and the POV switches. I'm hoping that now that the ridiculous origin story is out of the way, the next book might see some improvement and a better focus on the mystery aspect. I'm not necessarily in a rush to get to the next one though.
Kate Reading did a good job with her performance. She's clear and concise, does a reasonable job varying the voices enough for all the characters and gives the story a sense of life. No complaints there.