- Series: Charlotte Holmes Novel (Book 2)
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (February 14, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780062398949
- ISBN-13: 978-0062398949
- ASIN: 0062398946
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 90 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes Novel) Hardcover – February 14, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Picking up just weeks after A Study in Charlotte ended, Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are on their Christmas break in London. Their friendship has taken a few steps back, though, and things seem tense. After Holmes's mother turns suddenly ill and her beloved uncle Leander goes missing, the game is afoot. The pair travel across Europe from Berlin to Prague, bickering all the way yet still making a great team. The book is nearly all from Watson's perspective, as was the first title in the trilogy, but a few chapters at the end are from Holmes's view, and they are worth the wait, filled with turns of phrase that only she could dream up. This delightful sequel introduces a mystery on a grander scale with much higher stakes while staying true to the flavor of an original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story. There are new characters, a kidnapping, poison, art fraud, narrow escapes, danger, drama, and a final twist with a heap of delicious, complex sleuthing that will keep readers guessing until the end. No one is ever what or who they seem. VERDICT A strong purchase for fans of A Study in Charlotte and where mysteries are popular.—Kristen Rademacher, Marist High School, IL
“Beautiful prose, thrilling action, a touch of romance, and two complicated heroes to root for make this a not-to-be-missed sequel. Readers will be craving the final book in the trilogy.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Fans of the first Charlotte Holmes novel, A Study in Charlotte, will not be disappointed, and readers who are new to these characters will savor the fast-paced plot....This series is entirely un-put-downable. The Last of August will definitely leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
“A thrilling twist on a classic. Readers will be pulled in by both the riveting mystery and Charlotte Holmes, a brilliant heroine with secrets of her own.” (Maureen Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Shades of London series)
“Cavallaro’s crackling dialogue, well-drawn characters, and complicated relationships make this feel like a seamless and sharp renewal of Doyle’s series. An explosive mystery featuring a dynamic duo.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on A Study in Charlotte)
“Fans of television’s Elementary and Sherlock will avidly devour this book...a joyous excuse to watch one of the literary world’s most beloved pairings come together.” (Booklist on A Study in Charlotte)
“Debut author Cavallaro brings Arthur Conan Doyle’s sleuths (or their distant relatives, anyway) into the 21st century, casting Holmes as a brilliant young woman and Watson, who narrates, as her admirer and accomplice...An involving murder mystery, and a promising start to a planned trilogy.” (Publishers Weekly on A Study in Charlotte)
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I enjoyed A Study in Charlotte. I read it during a few hours on a lazy afternoon, and it was good! It kept my interest with an interesting mystery plot moved along by regularly paced action and clues dropped like breadcrumbs. It wasn't anything near the caliber of a true Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie work, but it was interesting and engaging, and if it sometimes went a bit off the rails into long introspective rants about how *unique* and antisocial Charlotte Holmes was, well, it was forgivable precisely because the plot kept moving forward to the inevitable climax with the villains exposed and the good guys winning the day. It works as a stand-alone novel and for a quick beach read or a couple of nights worth of bedtime reading, I would recommend it. My lazy afternoon turned into a lazy evening as I finished ASiC and almost immediately downloaded The Last of August to my Kindle. What a disappointment.
The Last of August begins with a couple giant steps backward in relationship development between Holmes and Watson, and the first 20% (literally, I checked) of the book is just basically friendship/relationship purgatory or hell, a good portion of which sees Watson marooned at Holmes's family's estate in England. Holmes is there with him, but not speaking to him. Or speaking to him so rarely and so cryptically (for no discernible reason) that it is beyond boring and frustrating. Our sixteen-year-old protagonist spends a week of his Christmas break from school reading Faulkner all day in a window seat at the Holmes's (figuratively and literally) frigid estate. It's unrealistic because I don't know a single sixteen-year-old rugby-playing boy who would be reading Faulkner for pleasure every day of his school holiday, fine with being uncomfortable and ignored by his "best" friend at her awkward, upper-class family home when he could be hanging out with friends and family he doesn't get to see very often, soaking up his beloved London, watching movies or playing video games or doing really literally anything other than reading Faulkner while stuck in this weird, uncomfortable situation.
But then! [The only sane person at the house] Uncle Leander disappears! The game is on. Our protags go to Berlin to continue Leander’s investigation and here things really start to fall apart. The investigation is BORING, and we know all along that the perpetrators are those evil ne'er-do-wells, the Moriarty siblings. It's just basically taken as a given that they are the bad guys behind Leander's disappearance (don't ask me why, because I still don't understand), and the book becomes less of a mystery and more of a search and rescue operation because those evil Moriarty siblings are the only ones who could possibly have done such a thing. Allegedly. We're told.
August Moriarty joins Holmes and Watson as they investigate, and Milo Holmes is involved too, when there is need for a deus-ex-omnipotent-brother. Then he's gone again and our protags run around in cheap disguises talking to a few folks, seeing a couple of art installations and angsting HARD about their relationships to each other. Again the story bogs down on the issue of the Moriarty sibs, since it is unclear WHY they play the villain here. What in the world is their motivation? This is never explained to anywhere near a satisfactory level. Lucien wants revenge against Charlotte--that I understood. But Hadrian wants...some money? And Philippa wants money and...a really good gardener? What? Why would these supposedly super-rich villains go to the trouble of orchestrating the plot to poison Emma Holmes and disappear Leander at the cost of so much time and energy and manpower? And for what? Money? I guess the significant financial investment in messing with the Holmeses paid off in the end with painting sales? Maybe?
That's another thing. Those meddling Moriarty kids (they're adults but so cartoonish in characterization that it felt right to borrow a phrase) sort of win. They sell all that art to Lena and despite the fact that our heroes are onto them, apparently the money actually does transfer from Lena's bank account for those forged paintings. It must, because Holmes talks to her about how she thinks the German government will repay Lena for the money she spent on the faked paintings. Set aside the fact that this is a completely bonkers assertion (why would the German government repay Lena for buying art that she knew was forged at an auction in the Czech Republic?? they wouldn't), the Moriarty sibs still got their millions in exchange for the fake paintings. And then to top it all off, in the end they escape. How very convenient and silly. Stop wasting pages on pages on pages telling us about Milo's complete control over a paramilitary force with unlimited resources if a couple of art forging slick talkers can escape his custody from handcuffs, several guards and a private plane with seemingly little difficulty.
And then there is the "climax" of the book. The big reveal where the mystery is laid bare to the reader who should be able to piece together clues and motivations dropped throughout the story to have a satisfactory "ooohhh I see" moment at the end. That really doesn't happen here. Turns out Charlotte knew (nearly) all along that Leander was still at casa Holmes and even if Jamie doesn't hate her for the way she strung him along, I DO. What the heck was the POINT? She ran around Europe allegedly looking for her uncle but secretly just trying to bust the Moriarty sibs for a little art forgery. She did catch them, after paying them millions of dollars of Lena's money, and then apparently lost them again. Great job Charlotte. Really A+ work there.
So the villains get away (which was probably always going to happen since Charlotte closed her little net without snaring Lucifer, oops I mean Lucien). Some friendly fire leaves August Moriarty dead (you KNEW that was coming because it’s there in the title of the book). Emma, Leander and Milo run away (?) and Alistair is evil (?) or just in money trouble (?) what?? And then, without telling us what the heck is going on, with sirens in the distance surely about to discover a dead Moriarty on the lawn of the ancestral Holmes estate, with only Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson to face the blame…fade to black. The book is over and I am pretty disgusted that I wasted my time on it at all.
Whereas ASiC could have stood alone, TLoA cannot. It is a filler, a cliffhanger, and disappointment in character and relationship development and a boring, lackluster story riddled with angst and uncertainty. I do not recommend it.
The Last of August cemented for me that this series is one of my favorites in recent memory. Ms. Cavallaro perfectly balances light-hearted humor, strong emotions, mystery, and drama.
There are certainly wonderful things about these books apart from the characters; Cavallaro is a poet and her phrasing at points is perfectly efficient and utterly beautiful, the mystery in this book is stronger than in the first and keeps you on your toes as a reader, the greater Holmes family - introduced in this book - are a puzzle unto themselves, but ultimately your opinion on this book will live or die on what you think of Charlotte and Jamie.
Jamie Watson is a marshmallow and I love him. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is full of emotion and cares deeply, even when he doesn't want to. I love that Jamie fills a role that is often given to female characters and that it doesn't detract from his masculinity or desirability. Poor, poor Jamie does not know what hit him when he's around the methodical calculating Holmeses and this book certainly shows that, but it also addresses the ways Jamie is good for Charlotte and it deepens his relationship with his father, who also knows the perplexities of a Watson-Holmes relationship.
Charlotte Holmes - how I do love Charlotte and her obsessive need for control. Charlotte wants desperately to be in control, she wants desperately to be the most capable person in the room, but she also needs to be softened, to be tempered. Charlotte burns brightly but without friends she threatens to burn out. Charlotte needs people who respect her enough to push her to do and be better, but she's also deeply afraid that she is too broken to be happy. Oh, Charlotte, you are a panther, a leopard, a lynx; Fierce and smart and capable.
This review has already devolved a bit into my rambling, so I'll end it with this:
- if you liked [ASIN:0062398903 A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes Novel)] you will like this even more. It's everything good from book 1 but stronger and deeper and more.
- if you were less enthusiastic about book 1 you might still like this, it depends on what you did or didn't like about book 1
- if you need someone to gush about James Watson, Jr. or Charlotte Holmes with you ever, you know who to talk to.
Upon finishing this book I immediately wanted to have the third book and was dismayed that I couldn't pre-order it already, a year or so in advance. That's how much I loved this book.