- Paperback: 318 pages
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books; Reprint edition (6 February 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062398954
- ISBN-13: 978-0062398956
- Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13.2 x 20.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 254 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 77,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Last of August Paperback – 6 Feb 2018
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"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
From the Back Cover
In this second brilliant, action-packed book in the Charlotte Holmes series, Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are in a chase across Europe to untangle a web of shocking truths about the Holmes and Moriarty families.
Jamie and Charlotte are looking for a winter-break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson&;s growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte&;s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate&;after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring&;the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers.
So begins a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague, where Holmes and Watson discover that this complicated case might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.
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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.
Mostly because not just the first quarter of the book (entirely), but the whole story itself is heavily bogged down by Jamie/Charlotte relationship drama. Are there any relationship at all? Are they friends? Are they more? Etc. All of this is being asked mostly by Jamie (although we have some chapters written from Charlotte's point of view), but the ever-present analysis of what exactly they are to each other overwhelms everything else in this book. Needless to say, if you've read "The Study in Charlotte" and know what Charlotte Holmes is like, the relationship in question are damaged, doomed and aren't based on much but weird thirst for dysfunction and self-destruction, so the tone of the book is "heavy" to say the least. I could have done with waaay less inner angst and much more mystery.
As far as mystery goes... It is there, yes. It's somewhat confusing, because there are several sub-stories going on, and the pace of it is being consistently punctured by constant self-agonizing of Jamie, but it does involve some globe-trotting (which I always appreciate) and a couple of unexpected twists. However, it doesn't even come close to the level of the one in the first book. The direction of where everything goes is usually questionable, so you sort of stumble along, not really sure why our heroes doing what they do (I guess we're being in Jamie's skin and how he feels being next to Charlotte, and it's not a pleasant experience). Also, unlike all the Arthur Conan Doyle's novels where you read and know that Sherlock is always two steps ahead and has something up his sleeve, and eagerly anticipate to know what it is; here, Charlotte comes off as almost painfully withholding information,that results in mostly "What??WHY?" from the reader, than a satisfying "Oooooh!". Half of the time you really don't know why she just said what she did, and it's illustrated the best in the conclusion of the book, where we aren't even sure if that was a mystery after all, however shocking the circumstances are...
"The Last of August" is still well-written, and the pace is, while muddled with unnecessary gloomy angst, still flows at a reasonable speed. The characters are well-developed, but at this point I'm not sure I like any of them, no matter how interesting they are. I will be reading the next book just to see how the author decided to finish the series, but unlike "The Study in Charlotte" that I really enjoyed, this one was severely dampened by too much Jamie/Charlotte "are they or are they not?" and somewhat confusing turn of events that really made me not sure of my feelings towards any of the characters. Here's to the hoping that the last book will bring the series to a satisfying end.