Susan McKinney: A good read for fans of Sherlock Holmes

Susan McKinney: A good read for fans of Sherlock Holmes

What if Sherlock Holmes was really a woman?

Sherry Thomas explores that possibility in a new series. "A Study in Scarlet Women" is the first installment. It was released a year ago, and I discovered it when I saw advertising for the second book that is coming out in November.

I'm a bit of a Sherlock Holmes fan, so I read it. It is absolutely fabulous. Thomas explores this twist on the Holmes mythos by illuminating how restrictive society was on women and the roles they were allowed in society.

Imagine being a genius, but because your family is part of "society," you are not allowed to exercise that intelligence.

Charlotte Holmes is that person. She has always had an uncanny ability to observe and surmise way too much about the people she meets. She dreads being forced to marry and forever living her life only being a wife and mother. She wants, ideally, to be headmistress of a school. She has a plan and puts it in motion.

When the plan backfires, she winds up ostracized from society and desperate to find a way to be employed.

Enter Mrs. Watson, a widow of some means, whose husband, John, was killed in the Afghan War, where he was serving as a doctor. Sound familiar?

Mrs. Watson knows what it is like to be on the outside of society looking in; she was an actress before she married John, and society cannot forgive such a "loose" occupation.

At the start of the novel, it is mentioned that she has helped Detective Treadles several times. Posing as Sherlock Holmes, she shares information with the detective through letters.

Mrs. Watson is intrigued by Charlotte, and the two work out a plan to set up shop on Baker Street. Charlotte is the sister of Sherlock and is his mouthpiece because of a health issue. Mrs. Watson pretends to be the housekeeper.

This is opportune for Charlotte. Her sister and father have been implicated in the deaths of two elderly scions of society who died within weeks of each other.

When Charlotte realizes they are related to a third death of a gentleman, she makes a connection that no one else knew. Now, how does she get the police to actually investigate that connection and find the proof of what she intuitively knows?

Susan McKinney is the librarian at the St. Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library. She received her master's in library science from the University of Illinois. She came here from Indiana for graduate school and fell in love with the area. She has lived here ever since. She is an avid reader and enjoys mystery, suspense, fantasy and action novels.

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