3 out of 5 stars
Good isn’t quite great, but in this case, it is goodbye.
The last installment in Brittany Cavallaro’s endearing Charlotte Holmes series reads like it’s time to move on. The characters are ready-ish, and the author is too. I could do with another book, but alas, I am not the boss around here.
Charlotte and Jamie, now summer students at the Oxford theater program, find themselves embroiled in a the mysterious disappearance of an aspiring young student actress. Things happen – and honestly, I didn’t really follow them or care. This mystery is much more Charlotte & Jamie-adjacent than the previous stories, and as such, is less engaging. It’s still good. It’s just happening around them, instead of to them. Charlotte makes her deductions, lies are exposed, theater students are pretentious, etc. The actual mystery and it’s solution are quite good, really, but need far more attention to stand out. Cavallaro is hardly writing that; we’re all busy getting our last moments with Charlotte & Jamie.
Are they getting their last moments together, as well? Cavallaro has always excelled at writing the slippery, non-committal Charlotte so she reads to us just as unreliable as she feels to herself. It’s this series biggest strength. Even that – and Jamie’s immortal patience – seem to run a bit thin toward the end of this one. Charlotte has always been two people: damaged and fragile, resolute and hard as nails. Everything here: the mystery, the characters, and the reader, are leaning on her to pick a personality. To grow up – and into the person of her choice, because it is a choice for Charlotte. It begins to feel as if she’s indulging her demons, rather than battling them – and Charlotte seems to realize that too. Readers can never see into Charlotte’s mind, but in this book, more than the others, we do see inside her feelings.
SIDENOTE/SPOILER: If you thought August Moriarty was dead, you’ve never read (or watched) a Sherlock Holmes story. Get thee to a Cumberbatch immediately. We all need more Holmeses in our lives.