Hilary Bailey’s “The Strange Adventures of Charlotte Holmes”

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(Published in 1994)

Charlotte Holmes is the sister of Sherlock Holmes, and like her brothers Sherlock and Mycroft, she is a skilled detective. She lives in a cottage in Chelsea, and has a laboratory in her back garden. Mary, wife of Dr John Watson, is Charlotte’s close friend and confidante, and occasionally assists in Charlotte’s investigations.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson also appear in the pages, but from Charlotte’s point of view, Sherlock is not quite as infallible as you might have thought. The other characters include the two men in her life, Prince Rudolph of the central European kingdom of Kravonia, and Inspector Jules Lestrade from Scotland Yard.

The book covers investigations related to the kingdom of Kravonia, Jack the Ripper, a murdered music hall singer, a male brothel, and Glamis Castle. Several of the social evils of Victorian England are described. Charlotte also spends time in her laboratory, developing forensic science techniques, such as dusting for fingerprints, and photography.

The story is told from a woman’s perspective, as both the author, and the main two characters, are female. Charlotte is a somewhat liberated woman for her time, venturing into places and activities which do not always have the complete approval of the other characters in the story.

Like the Sherlock Holmes books, this book is divided into chapters, each dealing with a separate case. However, in this book there are threads that carry on from chapter to chapter. A particular case is not necessarily finalised when you expect it is, and there are some surprises where something pops up relating to matters which you thought were closed.

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