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A Study in Honor

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Dr. Janet Watson knows firsthand the horrifying cost of a divided nation. While treating broken soldiers on the battlefields of the New Civil War, a sniper’s bullet shattered her arm and ended her career. Honorably discharged and struggling with the semi-functional mechanical arm that replaced the limb she lost, she returns to the nation’s capital, a bleak, edgy city in th Dr. Janet Watson knows firsthand the horrifying cost of a divided nation. While treating broken soldiers on the battlefields of the New Civil War, a sniper’s bullet shattered her arm and ended her career. Honorably discharged and struggling with the semi-functional mechanical arm that replaced the limb she lost, she returns to the nation’s capital, a bleak, edgy city in the throes of a fraught presidential election. Homeless and jobless, Watson is uncertain of the future when she meets another black and queer woman, Sara Holmes, a mysterious yet playfully challenging covert agent who offers the doctor a place to stay. Watson’s readjustment to civilian life is complicated by the infuriating antics of her strange new roommate. But the tensions between them dissolve when Watson discovers that soldiers from the New Civil War have begun dying one by one—and that the deaths may be the tip of something far more dangerous, involving the pharmaceutical industry and even the looming election. Joining forces, Watson and Holmes embark on a thrilling investigation to solve the mystery—and secure justice for these fallen soldiers.


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Dr. Janet Watson knows firsthand the horrifying cost of a divided nation. While treating broken soldiers on the battlefields of the New Civil War, a sniper’s bullet shattered her arm and ended her career. Honorably discharged and struggling with the semi-functional mechanical arm that replaced the limb she lost, she returns to the nation’s capital, a bleak, edgy city in th Dr. Janet Watson knows firsthand the horrifying cost of a divided nation. While treating broken soldiers on the battlefields of the New Civil War, a sniper’s bullet shattered her arm and ended her career. Honorably discharged and struggling with the semi-functional mechanical arm that replaced the limb she lost, she returns to the nation’s capital, a bleak, edgy city in the throes of a fraught presidential election. Homeless and jobless, Watson is uncertain of the future when she meets another black and queer woman, Sara Holmes, a mysterious yet playfully challenging covert agent who offers the doctor a place to stay. Watson’s readjustment to civilian life is complicated by the infuriating antics of her strange new roommate. But the tensions between them dissolve when Watson discovers that soldiers from the New Civil War have begun dying one by one—and that the deaths may be the tip of something far more dangerous, involving the pharmaceutical industry and even the looming election. Joining forces, Watson and Holmes embark on a thrilling investigation to solve the mystery—and secure justice for these fallen soldiers.

30 review for A Study in Honor

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    “It’s not as expensive as you think.” Sara Holmes leaned against the entry to the parlor, arms folded and mouth quirked into a smile. The lace gloves on her hands were just visible, though their color had faded to a pale gray. “How did you-” “Deduction. And a certain empathy born of like experience.” god, this was so good. it's a really fucking awesome reimagining of Sherlock Holmes but they're both black sapphic ladies and also, it takes place in a post-Trump era, and also, it's a political t “It’s not as expensive as you think.” Sara Holmes leaned against the entry to the parlor, arms folded and mouth quirked into a smile. The lace gloves on her hands were just visible, though their color had faded to a pale gray. “How did you-” “Deduction. And a certain empathy born of like experience.” god, this was so good. it's a really fucking awesome reimagining of Sherlock Holmes but they're both black sapphic ladies and also, it takes place in a post-Trump era, and also, it's a political thriller. [this feels like it should be a solid recommendation all on its own.] So I have not read Sherlock Holmes, but I do know from general life experience [and from watching this hilariously dedicated literary analysis, like, eight times] that it is episodic in nature. Something this does not do, as an adaptation, is act episodic in nature. Another thing this does not quite do, as an adaptation, is give you the clues and let you figure it all out. Also, Irene Adler is a villain. I think. This is slightly disappointing. However, the element this novel chooses to adapt well is the characterization of the two leads, and personally, I thought that was pitch perfect. So I mean, the plot is fine, but the best part of the book? The characterization. I mean, first of all, there are the two lead characters themselves. Watson is super well-written and one of my new fave characters of the year. She’s the focal character here, disabled and dealing with ptsd and constantly stressed. Oh, and Holmes is this gloriously sarcastic and enigmatic character who also feels human. All of the Holmes-is-completely-a-dick narratives can go fuck themselves; this Holmes is occasionally a dick, yeah, but she's also a genuinely loving and caring person who wants to use her smarts for good. And then there’s the centerpoint of the novel, and the reason I loved it so much: the relationship between Watson and Holmes. Their dynamic is this weird in-between where they're best friends but also Watson is just so Tired™ of Holmes but also they have a vague amount of romantic chemistry, and it's kind of the best thing about the whole damn book. I still kind of want them to be girlfriends, but I… also am happy with their current relationship? Which I actually think is the authorial intent and I. Love. It. I found their dynamic so effortlessly compelling and interesting and fun. This is also the first book I’ve read that feels very much like fiction that is… explicitly a reaction to the Trump presidency. So let’s talk about that. In recent months, we have seen an incredible immigration crisis – in which children, down to preschool age – were separated from parents. This is a crisis author could have in no way known of when she wrote this book, yet the book itself is explicitly a book about an America in which political discourse has become tinged in racism and discrimination no matter which faction you belong to. Which is… harrowing. And accurate. I’m wondering how this novel will hold up in five years, but still, it’s a frightening portrayal of a world gone wrong; just not in the overt, dystopian way. It’s gone just wrong enough that people like Janet Watson, a disabled veteran and a sapphic black woman, would feel it. Would hurt because of it. But not wrong enough that it feels like a far cry from our society, which is perhaps the most terrifying thing of all. We are so complicit when we want to be. The world is horriying and the way that we as human beings use the media we produce and consume to deal with it is fascinating. Anyway. On the whole, I thought this was excellent. Like this year’s earlier Witchmark, despite my feelings that the plot was hovering somewhere around “just good,” the character dynamic is so completely 20/10, and I adored all the themes and various existential tensions so much that I just can’t not five star this. I will definitely be revisiting this when I’m sad and you should definitely pick up your copy immediately when it releases on July 31st. Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube

  2. 3 out of 5

    Hart

    I was really looking forward to this book, and although it has some great qualities, I didn't enjoy it. I have not read many published Sherlock Holmes adaptations, but I think I've rated them all two or three stars. So, please keep in mind that I may be more biased against adaptations with these characters than I realize. The cover is absolutely perfect; it's so rare for a cover to show the characters exactly as they're described, and I am always glad to see black women on the cover of a novel. I I was really looking forward to this book, and although it has some great qualities, I didn't enjoy it. I have not read many published Sherlock Holmes adaptations, but I think I've rated them all two or three stars. So, please keep in mind that I may be more biased against adaptations with these characters than I realize. The cover is absolutely perfect; it's so rare for a cover to show the characters exactly as they're described, and I am always glad to see black women on the cover of a novel. It also illustrates a specific moment in the book, which is nice. There's some lovely writing, and I usually found it easy to relate to the main character (apologies for possible errors in this quote; I transcribed it from the audiobook): An image of my younger self came back sharp and strong. Who was she, I wondered. That tall and stocky girl who dragged her suitcase up the stairs that hot and rainy August afternoon. Would we recognize each other? Nostalgia had a funny sharp edge when you came down to it. I liked that young girl with her attitude and her belief she could conquer the world. I wasn't so sure she would like me back. I feel like I'm definitely in this book's target audience. I'm a casual fan of Sherlock Holmes and an avid science-fiction reader, and I prefer to read about queer characters. I also like fanfiction. The book is overt about its political leanings, but it's in line with my own beliefs, more or less. The main character, Janet Watson, fought on the federal side of a second US civil war, against (what sounds like) right-wing terrorists; Trump and his supporters are explicitly named as responsible for this current crisis, and GWB is also mentioned as contributing to the problems. I didn't realize at first that the author was white, but I don't object to non-own-voices books on principle; I'm also white, and some of my favorite authors (like KJ Charles) regularly write about marginalized groups they don't belong to. This book does deal directly with Watson's identity as an American black woman. I didn't notice any problems on that front, but it isn't my place to say whether it's good representation or not. I am a queer woman and I was happy with that aspect of Watson's character, but her queerness is given less attention than her race. It's set in the near future but there's no specific date given; it could be 5 years down the road or 50, but it mostly feels like today with a little more technology, as well as the societal ramifications of the second civil war. So, the author didn't really give herself leeway on conveying the experience of black and/or queer people in the real world, because the setting is sort of a version of the real world. But again, a black reader would be more qualified than I am to say whether the representation is accurate or not. But overall, I found the book boring as well as sad. Watson is deeply depressed, with good reason, but her misery is unrelenting. She suppresses almost every laugh and smile. She has thoughts like this frequently:Perhaps it was just as well my life had crumbled into dust. We spend almost the entire book deep in Watson's mind, as she analyzes events, thinks about her life, writes in her journal (why did we need journal excerpts in the book when it's written in first person?), notices the grim landscape, and is generally unhappy. There are at least two long and detailed sections of her doing nothing but riding the city bus or wandering around the city while nothing worth mentioning happens for seemingly endless paragraphs, but the author reports every bit of minutiae anyway. Late in the book, she ends up on a long car ride with Holmes which has the same boring level of detail, and they rarely speak to each other, even though at this point they're investigating the book's main mystery. Holmes has shared some info with Watson, but she withholds important details until the last moment, for no real reason except maintaining narrative tension. Most damningly, Watson doesn't admire Holmes. She does not even like Holmes, although she is attracted to her. While I haven't read a lot of the newer versions of these characters, I've seen many of the TV & movie adaptations; one element all of those versions have in common is the companion's admiration for the detective's intellect. The admiration doesn't have to inspire romantic feelings, but I do think it needs to be there. Janet Watson doesn't care about Sara Holmes' powers of deduction. She is not impressed. Really, she's too deep in her misery to find anything impressive. She's also highly intelligent herself, which I think is fine in a Watson-type character; they should be smart, with their own skills, just not as skilled at deduction as Holmes. But since we are firmly in Watson's PoV, I didn't admire Holmes' intellect either. We don't really see Holmes do anything all that impressive except use cool gadgets and arrange convenient transportation, which come across as signs of her wealth and connections; she's good at what she does because of her resources, not because of her abilities, and I think Holmes should work the opposite way (enhancing their abilities with their resources). The author doles out information in a really annoying way. I never knew what Holmes knew or what she was doing. I actually still don't know who all the glamorous people were that she entertained at their apartment. I was confused for most of the book, and the ultimate reveal was a serious letdown. I don't know if I was confused because of my own shortcomings or because of the book, but I rarely get confused in this way when reading. I kept thinking of a book with a slightly similar structure, Seven Summer Nights, which is also about a veteran suffering from PTSD because of a specific incident. You don't know the details of this incident until far into the book, but the author shares a lot of info about it without giving all the details; I never felt lost or irritated at the lack of info. Here, everyone else in this book knew the basics of what had happened at Alton; it was a major battle in the war and the kind of incident that everyone who knew about would have an opinion on, but the reader was basically in the dark. When we do find out more details, they're incredibly anticlimactic. To me, it would've been a much better book if we'd seen that event clearly from Watson's perspective very early on. So, the mystery was not gripping, and the real villain does not actually make an appearance in the book. I guess there will probably be a sequel, but I don't know if I'll read it. The plot was basically a backdrop to Watson being miserable. I think there is a romance plot; I read it that way, but it isn't totally clear. I also think it would've been a better book if the romance plot had been more in the foreground, and if it had seemed at any point that Watson actually liked Holmes - not just because I enjoy romance (I do), but because any moment of lightheartedness would've made this book significantly more enjoyable. On a positive note, I really liked the audiobook narrator, Lisa Renee Pitts, and I'll seek out other books she's narrated. She chose distinct voices for everyone and kept my attention with her delivery, even when the writing itself was extremely dull. But I don't really recommend this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rhode

    DNFed at page 100. It’s compelling enough to pull you in, but then for me it kept hitting sour notes, and I was disturbed by the author photo. The book’s written in the first person, plus the heroine writes about herself in her journal. We get an unlikely amount of background info (ie infodumping) from that journal. Nobody writes a summary of recent current events in their journal, do they? For that matter, do they write in a bland, complete-sentences style appropriate for a letter to an aunt? The DNFed at page 100. It’s compelling enough to pull you in, but then for me it kept hitting sour notes, and I was disturbed by the author photo. The book’s written in the first person, plus the heroine writes about herself in her journal. We get an unlikely amount of background info (ie infodumping) from that journal. Nobody writes a summary of recent current events in their journal, do they? For that matter, do they write in a bland, complete-sentences style appropriate for a letter to an aunt? Then, it’s the fact that the heroine has no local friends. She lived in DC for many years, but the only person she knows is an older guy she met elsewhere in the military? He and her weird lack of connections are plot devices that exist to introduce her to and keep her reliant on Holmes. The whole Holmes thing strikes false notes. In particular I was disturbed by Holmes’ violation of Watson’s privacy - she reads her journal, enters her room when it’s locked, etc - and manipulation of the relationship with money, she pays the lion’s share of rent and gifts Watson with jewelry, a fancy phone and beautiful clothing. If this were strictly a romance novel, these would be massive red flags regarding coercion. There were also false notes in the setting - why would any woman wear panty hose voluntarily on an August evening in DC? What therapist would eagerly re-see a client who punched her in the stomach on the first meeting? How could Watson use the metro to get to Georgetown where her apartment with Holmes is when there’s famously no metro there due to racism when the metro was built? (White residents didn’t want blacks being able to easily get there.) Which brings me to race. Although there’s a chance I guess that the author identifies as black, she looks super white in her author photo. I’m pretty sure this is not an ownvoices book. Obviously there’s no requirement that it be. You can write what you want to write. On the other hand, I just spent the weekend back in DC, where I was freaked out to see how severe the gentrification is these days. We drove through many neighborhoods that had been nearly 100% black, but now I saw white people all over the place. Old black-owned businesses going under, new white ones taking their place. On the plane coming home, I opened this book. It’s a black alt-history of DC written by a white woman. It’s been *heavily* promoted by its big mainstream publisher. Now we all know it’s hard for black women to get books published by mainstream press. And we all know mainstream publishers tend to limit the number of books they publish featuring POC. So here an author probably has benefited to some degree from her white privilege to get her book about black women in DC published. It feels a heck of a lot like cultural appropriation. I don’t think the author set out to do that. I think she wrote the best book she could based on her inspiration. I’m sad though that this highly vaunted book with black women on the cover isn’t apparently by an actual black woman. If today’s publishing world published all work fairly, disregarding race, it wouldn’t matter. But that’s not the case. What is the case is that the slot entitled ‘black woman Sherlock Holmes” has been taken by what appears to be a white author. And, despite her growing up in DC, it’s a white woman who thinks women should wear panty hose when they go out for an evening there in August.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Heather Jones

    If you’d handed me A Study in Honor knowing nothing except what’s in the blurb, I’d probably have told you that I’m not really into near-future dystopian political thrillers, even one that’s re-visioning of Holmes and Watson featuring two queer black women. But tell me that [author I love] is coming out with a new series under a new nom de plume and I’ll give anything she writes a try. I would have missed out on a great book if I’d gone just by my usual genre and setting preferences. O’Dell has c If you’d handed me A Study in Honor knowing nothing except what’s in the blurb, I’d probably have told you that I’m not really into near-future dystopian political thrillers, even one that’s re-visioning of Holmes and Watson featuring two queer black women. But tell me that [author I love] is coming out with a new series under a new nom de plume and I’ll give anything she writes a try. I would have missed out on a great book if I’d gone just by my usual genre and setting preferences. O’Dell has created two strong personalities with just enough of their literary antecedents that you know what your getting in terms of interpersonal dynamic. One has clawed her way up from a working class background, one was born of privilege. One is damaged to the edge of breaking by her experiences in the war, one is smooth and polished and always so very much in control. But you believe that these two can be thrown together, can survive the initial distrust and conflict, and can begin to forge what we recognize as the enduring Holmes/Watson partnership that has made its way into legend. As with the original canon, we see the events through Watson’s eyes, leaving the internal workings of Holmes’s mind (and her backstory) enough of a mystery to be intriguing. I’m not going to lie about the setting: the line that can be drawn between where were are today and the terrifying vision the book offers of political turmoil and civil war is too believable to be enjoyable. The tech is just the far side of futuristic but the sociology is entirely too familiar. But the story is about human beings and how they make it through, first and foremost by caring about truth, honor, and each other. And that makes all the difference in envisioning how we might recover from such a future. The icing on the cake is that both protagonists are casually and unapologetically queer without needing to insert a romance plot into the dynamic. I long for the day when I can pick up any random book and consider that a possibility. Until then, I’ll always be seeking out books like this that combine representation with rock-solid writing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joe Crowe

    So cool. That's what this book is. It combines sci-fi and Sherlock Holmes in a feminist telling of the Holmes mythos with Janet Watson and an LGTBQA Sara Holmes in a future after a second Civil War. The author has created spins on the characters that are true to their origins. Clearly, author O'Dell is having a blast with the characters. This is Holmes at the Holmesiest. Beyond the Holmes stuff, the story is a frenetic, intelligent mystery. O'Dell has opened up a new world that I hope she revisit So cool. That's what this book is. It combines sci-fi and Sherlock Holmes in a feminist telling of the Holmes mythos with Janet Watson and an LGTBQA Sara Holmes in a future after a second Civil War. The author has created spins on the characters that are true to their origins. Clearly, author O'Dell is having a blast with the characters. This is Holmes at the Holmesiest. Beyond the Holmes stuff, the story is a frenetic, intelligent mystery. O'Dell has opened up a new world that I hope she revisits. Right now. Is she done with the next one yet? (Review from an early, early review copy.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    KP

    (Review originally posted on the John H Watson Society website.) General Review I think most people could guess by now that I love twists on the classic Holmes story. While I do enjoy the more traditional pastiche—give me a Lyndsay Faye story any day!—there is something that continues to intrigue me about pastiches that do something different to our characters. Holmes and Watson were, after all, men of their time, even if they were eccentric. Pastiches that throw them into different times, differe (Review originally posted on the John H Watson Society website.) General Review I think most people could guess by now that I love twists on the classic Holmes story. While I do enjoy the more traditional pastiche—give me a Lyndsay Faye story any day!—there is something that continues to intrigue me about pastiches that do something different to our characters. Holmes and Watson were, after all, men of their time, even if they were eccentric. Pastiches that throw them into different times, different genders, different sexualities, different abilities help shine a light on what makes a Holmes and a Watson intrinsically Holmes-and-Watson, in my mind; they are conductors of light. One can imagine my sheer and utter excitement when, while doing my monthly search for upcoming Holmesian novels, I found A Study in Honor on the list. Holmes and Watson in the near (somewhat dystopian, utterly plausible) future, as Black queer women? I am pretty sure I screamed myself hoarse, and then proceeded to digitally scream on my twitter and Facebook and tumblr. I hopped right over to Edelweiss, which had ARCs available, and requested it. When I didn’t hear back right away, I requested it again. And also reached out to the author to squeal at her. Thankfully, Edelweiss came through, and I soon had a fresh, shiny ARC on my Nook. I plowed this book in a day. I considered savoring it, taking my time with it, but I just couldn’t. The characters were too fascinating; the plot was too intense. O’Dell has created an amazing pastiche, and I cannot recommend it enough. The worldbuilding is, in some ways, sparse—O’Dell doesn’t spend a lot of time providing an info dump, especially given the book takes place in the near future. Yet despite the sparse worldbuilding, it all works, because of how close it takes place to our present. The things described are all too plausible, all too real, for better or worse. A second Civil War is happening when the book opens. Janet Watson is a veteran of that war, her arm destroyed in the fighting and fitted with a prosthetic that feels only one generation removed from current prosthetic advancements (and, in many ways, doesn’t quite live up to current prosthetic science, as Janet is given one that doesn’t quite suit her; much of her struggle throughout the book is navigating the VA, trying to get a prosthetic that actually works correctly for her, something we’ve all certainly read about or perhaps personally experienced). Sara Holmes has a device that allows the Internet to be downloaded right into her brain, something that seems too real as things like Google Glass come onto the market; it’s not too far a stretch to imagine that soon we’ll just have implants in our head. Sara Holmes herself is an enigma, at times frustratingly so. I wish there had been a more explicit conversation about what, precisely, she does, as I found the secrecy around her work confusing for the reader, and not just for Janet, but despite that issue, I found her utterly charming. I can easily see someone falling under her spell and being endlessly intrigued by her. I loved the updates to the classic Holmes; I can absolutely see Victorian Holmes wanting implants that would give him access to all the information in the world. I was tickled by the fact that Sara Holmes plays the piano, rather than the violin. Her solicitous nature with Janet was adorable. Though Watsons are always intrigued by Holmeses, it’s so rare to really see, in depth, a Holmes intrigued by a Watson, as Sara clearly is with Janet. And her masterful quality was hilarious, especially since it always put Janet on her back foot. I will fully admit that I found the plot somewhat convoluted at times. I think a second read through would make things clearer to me, and others may not have that problem; as I said, I read this book so quickly, I could easily have missed things. Despite knowing that I missed things, I found the mystery absolutely heart-wrenching. I don’t want to get into it much, as I feel like anything I write about it leads to spoilers, but the victims are what drive the case, and drive Janet the entire time. Her determination to give them justice drove the story. It was wonderfully done, and I still tear up when I think of Belinda Diaz. I would like to add in a good word for the secondary characters as well. Jacob Bell, RN Roberta Thompson, Saul Martinez, even the weasely Terrence Smith, are richly drawn. I would love to see some of them become recurring characters, because I loved them as much as I loved Janet and Sara. There are two particular things I want to mention about this book that might give people pause. It is a very political book, and if you are looking to escape politics for the time being, you may wish to consider this; and most importantly, this book about two queer Black women is written by a white woman. As a white woman myself, I do not feel qualified to say if she did well by the characters in terms of their race. However, here is what I do know: O’Dell’s editor is Amber Oliver, a Black woman; she lists having taken a Writing the Other workshop in her acknowledgements; she had many readers look over her book. It does appear she has done some work in trying to avoid stereotypes and poor representation. I am very much looking forward to owning a copy of this book when it comes out in July. I suspect it will take a place of honour on my Sherlock Holmes shelves, as it’s certainly one of the most ambitious and intriguing pastiches I’ve read in a while. What About Our Watson? This is entirely Janet Watson’s book. I have read a number of fine Watsons in my goal of providing reviews for the Society. Some of them have even been excellent. But Janet really takes the cake, because she isn’t a strong-willed narrator of Holmes’ adventures, as so frequently happens. Instead, Janet is entirely her own person, with her own hopes and dreams and loves and history outside of Holmes, and the book focuses on her struggles and desires as she steps into a realm that has always been helmed by a Holmes. I want to spend a moment on Watson as a war veteran. One of my ongoing… I won’t say frustrations, but perhaps disappointments, is that pastiche writers don’t do more with Watson post-war. I have always wanted to see a Watson with a more consistent war wound than ACD gave him, one that impacts him in a real way. I’ve also always hoped that some writer (whether of a book or a film/TV show) would explore the idea of Watson having PTSD, as there is certainly fodder for such in canon. I’ve seen the occasional pastiche or adaptation make an attempt, but across the board, it’s been rather half-hearted. A Study in Honor, though, stares unflinchingly at Janet Watson’s war wounds, both physical and mental. Much of Janet’s internal conflict comes from her struggles to get a prosthesis that actually works, and her turmoil over losing her arm and learning to adapt in a world that has little interest in adapting for her. Her PTSD is visceral, in a way that I finally recognize, with certain sounds, phrases, smells, triggering flashbacks and memories. She regularly sees a therapist, and opens up to her, attempting to heal and thrive, rather than remain stuck in her survival instincts. The depiction of trauma in this book, with Janet and with others, is raw and hard and beautifully done. Janet is also a woman who takes no shit from her Holmes, which everyone knows I’m a sucker for. I like a Watson who is willing to push back, to demand respect, to even yell at times at a Holmes. I like a Watson who won’t be steamrolled. Janet is that kind of Watson. While she concedes certain battles (I teared up about the journal), she is also willing to fight back against Holmes and her casual acceptance that she’s in control at all times. I loved the ongoing sneakiness over the text device, for example, and Watson’s dismissal of the gifts that Holmes continued to offer. I laughed heartily over her continued rejection of Holmes’ pet names for her. Janet Watson clearly trusts Sara Holmes, but also refuses to blithely accept her word; she wants answers and explanations, and demands them when Sara is less than immediately forthcoming. Janet is deeply loyal, to her patients, to her military comrades, and Holmes, as well as compassionate; she is also tenacious and stubborn, qualities I do love in a Watson. Her determination to heal, to solve the case, to bring justice to the victims is present throughout the entire story. I can think of nothing better to sum it up than to provide a quote from Janet’s journal (journaling is important throughout the entire book; we frequently get to read Janet’s journal as she writes it): “I WILL HAVE MY VICTORY. I WILL HAVE MY LIFE BACK. I SWEAR IT.” I really can’t ask for more from my Watsons. Janet is an absolute treat, and I think any Watsonian will love her. You Might Like This Book If You Like: Dystopian futures; recovery stories; tough yet vulnerable women protagonists; conspiracy theories

  7. 3 out of 5

    Stella (Paper Wings)

    4.5 The concept for this is AMAZING and the execution is also REALLY good. My only complaint is that the mystery kind of fell short because there was so much focus on character development. However amazing that character developent may have been (see: very amazing), this is a Holmes retelling, so I do expect a good, complex mystery, and I'm not sure if I got that here... But I'm also not sure it matters since this was an awesome book otherwise. Full review to come

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul Daniel Ash

    lovely dystopian procedural I had forgotten, when I started reading it, that it was a re-imagined Sherlock and Holmes with black women. The characterizations are all delightful and the action builds at a terrific, measured pace. I can’t say I’m unconcerned about a white women writing black lives at a time when black authors are struggling to get published, but the work strikes me as well-done.

  9. 5 out of 5

    erforscherin

    Not my cup of tea, I’m afraid. I’m always game for a genderbending Sherlock Holmes story (hello, Elementary!), but I was pretty disappointed here. Maybe most puzzling were the decisions to make Holmes a spy rather than a detective, and to keep Watson in the dark most of the time and/or repeatedly drug her while the bigger plot happens offscreen — why?? Without getting a chance to see those deductive skills at work, or a true partnership forming, I don’t think you can even properly call this a sp Not my cup of tea, I’m afraid. I’m always game for a genderbending Sherlock Holmes story (hello, Elementary!), but I was pretty disappointed here. Maybe most puzzling were the decisions to make Holmes a spy rather than a detective, and to keep Watson in the dark most of the time and/or repeatedly drug her while the bigger plot happens offscreen — why?? Without getting a chance to see those deductive skills at work, or a true partnership forming, I don’t think you can even properly call this a spin on Sherlock Holmes: this is just borrowing the names and pasting them on top of a paper-thin thriller plot. The worldbuilding could have been interesting if it were more fully fleshed out, but instead it came across as a somewhat incoherent political rant. I never really had a good idea of why the two factions were fighting (other than “liberals = good, conservatives = bad”, I suppose), and the boundaries of the New Confederacy seemed to be poorly defined too - I was surprised that Florida apparently wasn’t part of it, for instance. Overall this felt like a really rushed manuscript that made it to publication before it was quite fleshed out, just to satisfy someone’s political leanings. Some “drawer treatment” followed by heavy revisions probably would have done it some good.

  10. 3 out of 5

    Avery (Book Deviant)

    ok so. i really liked this book!! but a retelling of sherlock holmes...should have a mystery BEFORE the 50% mark. which this book ultimately failed at, because i only really caught wind of the mystery around the 65-70% mark. also--that ending? convenient and cheap as fuck. i wanted a solid end to the mystery, not more questions and anger at being cheated out of an actual, substantive ending. sigh. full review to come eventually (i promise.)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Janet Watson became first a surgeon, then enlisted in the military, all to help others. After years fighting the New Confederacy, she returned home invalided out of the army and with few options or hope of a better life. Right when she was beginning to give up hope, she met Sara Holmes, a rich and mysterious woman with a talent for deduction. They team up and solve a medical mystery that turns out to involve people at the highest levels of the US government and the pharmaceutical industry. I real Janet Watson became first a surgeon, then enlisted in the military, all to help others. After years fighting the New Confederacy, she returned home invalided out of the army and with few options or hope of a better life. Right when she was beginning to give up hope, she met Sara Holmes, a rich and mysterious woman with a talent for deduction. They team up and solve a medical mystery that turns out to involve people at the highest levels of the US government and the pharmaceutical industry. I really wanted to like this. I love Holmes and Watson teaming up, and I love the concept of two black women versions of the characters in a futuristic USA. But this is told with all the subtlety and nuance of a brick to the head. The mystery is about as obvious as it gets, with no twists, turns, or surprises. Neither Watson nor Holmes (especially not Holmes) read like updated, adapted versions of their characters, but rather like kinda boring random people that supposedly have skills but never seem to actually use them. (Well, Holmes basically throws around her wealth and ability to drug or coerce people, but does very little detecting.) The writing is just not good, and it really ruined the book for me.

  12. 3 out of 5

    Cynthia

    this was a really great read - i'm weak for holmes/watson always, and their dynamic was delightful in this. i was shrieking with joy at so many moments; holmes' particular brand of baffling intensity is wonderful. i love claire o'dell's reimagining of them as queer black women in a near-future US, and watson's voice was solid and engaging. and sara holmes is such a deeply devoted weirdo oh my god i love her.

  13. 3 out of 5

    Starr

    I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.  This is a gender and race flipped Sherlock Holmes retelling. Though I was interested in it, I have to admit that I ended up enjoying it a lot more than expected. Dr. Janet Watson was a surgeon in the army, on the front lines during the new civil war. She was discharged when she was shot and lost her arm during one of the battles against the New Confederacy. Now that she is back in DC hoping to get her metal prosthetic repl I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.  This is a gender and race flipped Sherlock Holmes retelling. Though I was interested in it, I have to admit that I ended up enjoying it a lot more than expected. Dr. Janet Watson was a surgeon in the army, on the front lines during the new civil war. She was discharged when she was shot and lost her arm during one of the battles against the New Confederacy. Now that she is back in DC hoping to get her metal prosthetic replaced for one more fitting for a surgeon, she realizes that things are not going to get any better anytime soon. Once she realizes that the VA has no immediate plans to replace her metal arm anytime soon, she decides to stay in DC. All she needs is a job and a place to stay. She finds a job with the VA and then a friend introduces her to Sara Holmes, someone she is not sure she can stand. As Watson gets comfortable with her new job, new roommate and new routine, she uncovers a mystery that doesn't make sense, someone is killing civil war veterans.  The first third of the book is getting to know the characters, Watson in particular but also Holmes. While it seems like a big deal that civil war veterans are being killed, that mystery doesn't really start until a third of the book. While I wouldn't say that this is a slow book, it is not fast paced either. There were parts of the book that I felt i was making progress only because I continued to read, there were other parts that seemed to fly by. Somehow it works for this book, it fits with Watson's style. The ending was explosive with the action that was happening on the page, but not with the resolution of the mystery. That was a bit more subdued, happening as Watson recovers in the hospital.  There were small things that I enjoyed, like the nod to Octavia Butler that occurs once or twice throughout the book. The way that Holmes hair is described in locs and another character's hair is described as being in boxed braids. The way people either see them or overlook them in different situations. Those are the small things that make it apparent that the characters are black. But there was still something that was a bit off, as if the characters were black because the author wanted them to be black and not because they actually were black. I am not sure if that even makes sense.   I really enjoyed this book. It was quiet with its observations even though what was going on around inside the book was very loud. I am definitely looking forward to continuing on with this series. 

  14. 3 out of 5

    LAPL Reads

    Sherlock Holmes is the world’s best known, and possibly most popular, detective. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published the first Sherlock Holmes story, “A Study in Scarlet,” in 1887. Over the next forty years, Doyle went on to write fifty-five additional short stories and four novels about Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. John Watson. Holmes and Watson have become icons for both Great Britain and the mystery genre, and their adventures did not end when Doyle stopped writing. The characters have Sherlock Holmes is the world’s best known, and possibly most popular, detective. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published the first Sherlock Holmes story, “A Study in Scarlet,” in 1887. Over the next forty years, Doyle went on to write fifty-five additional short stories and four novels about Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. John Watson. Holmes and Watson have become icons for both Great Britain and the mystery genre, and their adventures did not end when Doyle stopped writing. The characters have provided a type of playground for other writers shortly after the publication of the first Holmes stories. Over the years, hundreds of tales concerning Holmes and Watson have been written by almost as many authors. Nor did their exploits remain limited to words on a page. As new technologies developed, and the ways to tell stories have increased, Doyle’s characters have provided source material, ranging from existing stories being stories retold and reinterpreted to new stories of which Doyle would never have thought. They have been presented on the stage and in motion pictures, radio plays, television series, video games, and almost every other medium imaginable. With such a catalog of existing material across such a breadth of formats, it would be easy to believe that after 131 years nothing new or unexpected could be done with these classic characters. But Claire O’Dell’s A Study in Honor proves that imaginative writers are still able to pleasantly surprise fans of Holmes and Watson. A Study in Honor begins with Dr. Janet Watson arriving in Washington, DC to attempt to pick up the pieces of her life and career. She was a surgeon, but that life ended when a bullet shattered her arm while she was tending to the wounded in Oklahoma. She’s been honorably discharged from military service, but the VA is so overrun with soldiers returning from the Civil War that is threatening to destroy the US that they simply can’t be bothered with the fact that the mechanical arm, with which she was fitted on the battlefield, neither fits nor functions. Jobless, homeless, suffering from PTSD and with few to no prospects to help her gain her footing and create a new life, Janet cautiously welcomes an introduction to Sara Holmes, a mysterious, myopic, and often down right maddening person of uncertain, but considerable, means who offers to share her Georgetown townhome. With a place to live, Janet is able to start a new job working at the VA hospital as a medical technician. But Janet is still a doctor, even if not in the eyes of the VA, and she begins to notice an alarming trend: soldiers returning from service in the war are dying. And those deaths cannot be explained and appear, if one attempts to look for answers, to be actively covered up. After yet another patient dies inexplicably, Watson decides she needs to find out why this is happening. And it just so happens that Sara Holmes, Watson’s obnoxious new roommate, may be exactly the person to uncover the answers that she needs. Beth Bernobich, writing under the pseudonym of Claire O’Dell, has taken the familiar tropes of Doyle’s Holmes and Watson and turned them into something completely new: the main protagonists are now queer women of color, their base of operations is Georgetown and the setting is a frighteningly familiar U.S. struggling to survive another civil war being fought between the extremists of the Left and the Right. The result is a compelling story with rich, well drawn characters in a world that is all too believable. O’Dell’s characterizations of Holmes and Watson are fascinating. While both stay true to the basic elements necessary for a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, they are also complex characters in their own right. With Watson, O’Dell emphasizes the effects of being a wounded war veteran to a much stronger degree than is typical in most Holmes' stories, but the resulting character is a strong, competent woman struggling to find her place in a world that has used her until it no longer needs her, and then discards her, hoping she will simply disappear. (A story that is all to sobering a truth for many contemporary veterans.) Holmes, on the other hand, is a brilliant, egocentric, at times verging on the incomprehensible, and yet always in control of any situation. And while she describes herself as a “challenge,” she is actually insufferable and infuriating (as almost every iteration of the character ultimately is!). The mystery presented is satisfying, but it is important to note that it is not the focus of this novel. This novel is about the women who take on the challenge of solving the mystery and, in that pursuit, discover themselves, each other, and the familiar pairing that the world has grown to love. A Study in Honor is the first book in the The Janet Watson Chronicles, with the next book, The Hound of Justice, due out in 2019. Reviewed by Daryl M., Librarian, West Valley Regional Branch Library

  15. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Dhu

    In a near-future America wracked by civil war, wounded army doctor Janet Watson, a surgeon who no longer has two flesh and blood arms with which to operate, heads to Washington. In addition to the physical trauma of her injury and the retrofitted prosthesis that doesn’t quite work right, she is dealing with the knowledge that her final military action was a shameful one, its veterans viewed with disgrace. Battered by war, without a promise of work or the skills she was trained in, alone in a cit In a near-future America wracked by civil war, wounded army doctor Janet Watson, a surgeon who no longer has two flesh and blood arms with which to operate, heads to Washington. In addition to the physical trauma of her injury and the retrofitted prosthesis that doesn’t quite work right, she is dealing with the knowledge that her final military action was a shameful one, its veterans viewed with disgrace. Battered by war, without a promise of work or the skills she was trained in, alone in a city that distrusts veterans and dies not seem too fond of black people who appear homeless or out of work, Watson’s immediate future seems bleak. Then, a chance encounter with another veteran she once treated leads to an opportunity to share an astonishingly inexpensive apartment with the unnerving and enigmatic Sara Holmes, a brilliant, aristocratic, apparently wealthy, black woman who diagnoses Watson’s trauma and insecurities on the spot, and then challenges her to share the apartment. This is the opening to Claire ODell’s Holmesian science fiction novel A Study in Honor. Watson’s life with Holmes is indeed a challenge for her. Holmes gives peremptory instructions, never consults Watson, has strange visitors, and generally behaves in an enigmatic and annoying fashion. She takes Watson out to dinner on occasion, gives her expensive gifts, at times almost appears to be courting her in a peculiar fashion. Watson is by turns curious, angry, resentful, and bewildered. She finally wrests a minimum of information from Holmes, who acknowledges that she is government agent, but can say no more fir security reasons. Meanwhile, Watson struggles with PTSD and her job as a med tech at the VA, where her medical skills are barely utilised - she essentially does initial intake interviews with each patient and records the information in the VA files. She’s frustrated by the inadequate care the veterans receive, and by her inability to be a doctor, to order tests and make the attempt to find out whether there is anything to be done for the people she sees again and again. Everything changes when Belinda Diaz, a patient that Watson has seen repeatedly, been deeply concerned about, and risked her job to order diagnostic tests for, dies suddenly. Watson digs into the records to see if the death was preventable, but fails to find any indication of the tests she herself ordered. On her way home that night, she’s attacked, almost killed, but Holmes appears unexpectedly, saving her life. If there was any doubt that the two events were connected, that vanishes when Holmes discovers that three other veterans from Diaz’ unit died the same week. Holmes, with Watson in tow, makes a flying weekend trip to Miami and Michigan, where the other deaths occurred. When they return, Watson reports for work, to learn she has been ‘fired with cause’ - which they are not required to explain. As they investigate, Holmes and Watson are drawn deeper into a conspiracy that reaches into dangerous places in government, industry and the military. It’s a complex plot, and, like some of the investigations the original Sherlock undertakes for Mycroft, ends up being too politically sensitive for the truth that Holmes and Watson uncover here to be revealed. But through it all, a solid partnership is forged between Holmes and Watson - who ends up getting a real job as a respected surgical specialist, and a brand new prosthesis that will allow her to work with confidence, as a thank you from an intelligence agency that cannot acknowledge what she’s done in any other way. And yes, the door is open for more of Sara Holmes and Doctor Janet Watson, and I dearly hope that O’Dell is inclined to write it, because these are wonderfully developed characters, clearly inspired by Conan Doyle’s heroes, and yet equally clearly their own fully realised selves. And who doesn’t need a black, female, Holmes and Watson duo in their lives?

  16. 5 out of 5

    hj

    Wow, I finally got around to writing the review, haha. I am always a fan of new takes on classics and it is utterly delightful to read a novel that goes beyond the usual. My favorite so far has been (and still will remain a favorite) the television series, Elementary, taking place in modern day NYC. It certainly caused some displeasure for fans of the iconic duo, to discover that Watson would be portrayed by an Asian woman. Whatever the case, I’m truly happy that Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller did Wow, I finally got around to writing the review, haha. I am always a fan of new takes on classics and it is utterly delightful to read a novel that goes beyond the usual. My favorite so far has been (and still will remain a favorite) the television series, Elementary, taking place in modern day NYC. It certainly caused some displeasure for fans of the iconic duo, to discover that Watson would be portrayed by an Asian woman. Whatever the case, I’m truly happy that Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller did a phenomenal job with their roles, truly showing the complexities of their characters. The reason I start this review with Elementary is because A Study in Honor reminded me of the television show. In fact, it went above and beyond by casting the roles of Sherlock and Watson to queer black women going by the names of Sara and Janet, respectively. There are also many twists on secondary characters who are also fleshed out and memorable, many of them turning into people of color (which we all know is my jam, haha). I appreciate the fact that O’Dell remains true to the original characterizations despite this. In addition, she just adds all these little details that show how headstrong, queer black women would navigate different spaces. This is especially the case of Watson. In fact, we can just say that A Study in Honor is a Janet Watson special; we truly see through her eyes and I think brings more attention to a character who is often shadowed by the enigmatic genius. Sherlock actually doesn’t make as much of an appearance, which may disappoint some, but I think having Watson take the spotlight is a welcome change. That said, the interactions we see between the two are absolutely charming and hilarious. I love that Watson takes no shit from Sherlock because God only knows we need more of that. We’re also made aware of Watson’s discomforts and frustrations of how she is perceived, especially with very visible disability, a prosthetic due to losing her arm in the war. That’s another thing I really appreciated: the frank approach of a postwar life as a veteran, struggling with PTSD and attempting to assimilate back into society. I bring this up because virtually no other adaptations ever discussed in detail and it’s a huge deal. Speaking of society, the novel also takes place in a future dystopian United States that entered a second Civil War. While this may ruffle some feathers, the not-so-subtle criticisms of the American political climate over the last decade or so is a necessity that O’Dell handles wonderfully to pair with the plot. Though with regard to plot, that is one not-so-positive aspect that I need to note. It’s not as clear and it definitely does not feel like the focus of the novel. It doesn’t deter me all that much since I’m quite fond of character development and worldbuilding. A Study in Honor fits the bill in this regard and I’m willing to accept the plot sacrifice. However in the defense of the not-so-apparent plot, I think it adds a lot of intrigue to what is to come in the next novel. Note: This is an ARC that I received from the author a few months ago. I also refrain from leaving an actual star rating due to potential biases but even without, I do think I would have enjoyed this just as much.

  17. 3 out of 5

    CleverBaggins

    This book was AMAZING. One of my favorite books period, not just this year. So good I kind of want to reread it right now and I just finished it last night. That said, though, I don't even know where to start to talk about it. I love stories about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and am disappointed in them way too often. I was cautious of a genderbent version, excited about the scifi part and Claire O'Dell blew it out of the water. It is told, like so many stories, from Watson's point of view and This book was AMAZING. One of my favorite books period, not just this year. So good I kind of want to reread it right now and I just finished it last night. That said, though, I don't even know where to start to talk about it. I love stories about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and am disappointed in them way too often. I was cautious of a genderbent version, excited about the scifi part and Claire O'Dell blew it out of the water. It is told, like so many stories, from Watson's point of view and there's less of Holmes in it than I expected in the beginning but this is not a fault. It lets the character of Watson breath and inhabit the pages. The worldbuilding is smooth and natural and oh, so relevent to the times. Watson's struggles are so real and dealt with and never at any point just solved miraculously. Holmes is a mystery, intriguing, infuriating and fascinating both to Watson and the reader. The mystery is compelling and at no point was is completely obvious what was going on. So many clues and pieces but like the characters you're unsure how they're all going to be connected. It is a great adventure and a well written book. Mostly, though, it is a book that I completely needed to read right now. So many things about Watson spoke so deeply to me and it's hard to articulate but this was the perfect time in my life to read this amazing book and I will never forget it.

  18. 3 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This was wonderful, but in the end didn't at all need the Holmes/Watson re-telling element and would likely have been stronger without leading on that expectation. In the near future we follow Dr. Janet Watson who is a recent amputee, coming out of service as a combat surgeon in the second civil war. Fully the first half of the novel consists of her struggle to rebuild a life, her skills compromised with the loss of her arm, her mental state compromised by the tragic battle that took her arm. As This was wonderful, but in the end didn't at all need the Holmes/Watson re-telling element and would likely have been stronger without leading on that expectation. In the near future we follow Dr. Janet Watson who is a recent amputee, coming out of service as a combat surgeon in the second civil war. Fully the first half of the novel consists of her struggle to rebuild a life, her skills compromised with the loss of her arm, her mental state compromised by the tragic battle that took her arm. As she manages to find a way forward, working as a med tech at a VA clinic, a fellow soldier connects her with the eccentric Sara Holmes as a potential roommate. Dr Watson winds up agreeing to what is a too good to be true rental agreement, that also winds up leaving her further confused about Holmes strange comings and goings. When Watson loses a patient at the VA, Holmes proves an unexpected ally to the questions provoked by the death. Together they begin to uncover that it may not be an isolated incident, and potentially what is happening runs much deeper.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    A Study in Honor has a great premise and I loved a lot of the ideas that went into this reimagining of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. I did think that Janet Watson's characterization was well done and that she herself was the highlight of the novel, but I also thought that her promising dynamic with Sara Holmes never quite gelled. Ultimately, I found it to be rather slow going much of the time since the investigation didn't particularly interest me, but I have also found that science fiction my A Study in Honor has a great premise and I loved a lot of the ideas that went into this reimagining of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. I did think that Janet Watson's characterization was well done and that she herself was the highlight of the novel, but I also thought that her promising dynamic with Sara Holmes never quite gelled. Ultimately, I found it to be rather slow going much of the time since the investigation didn't particularly interest me, but I have also found that science fiction mysteries that are focused on the plot more than the science fiction aspects often do not work for me. 5/10 - It's okay Full Review on My Website

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I really liked this retelling of Sherlock Holmes, except with black sapphic ladies in the middle of a post-Trump civil war. The political mystery I found interesting, and I loved the characterization of Sara Holmes and Janet Watson. Watson did revel in her misery quite a lot during the book, and I think it represented PTSD well. There wasn’t as much relationship building as I would have liked, but I hope we can see that in the next book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    I liked the writing, and some parts of this worked great, and some parts less so. Also I can’t help the fact that the narrative - from the first-person perspective of a black woman, at a time when race is fraught - being written by white person made me uncomfortable.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patti

    Brilliant.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    It takes a while for the mystery to get rolling, mainly because there's so much set-up (which I appreciate). This new Watson and Holmes are an intriguing pair, and I look forward to reading more about them in the future. Definitely lives up to the anticipation created when I read the summary.

  24. 3 out of 5

    Noella Handley

    An unsettling vision of what our near future could be like. Fun for fans of Sherlock Holmes, but also completely stands up as a great story on its own.

  25. 4 out of 5

    ellie w.

    TWO MORE DAYS until one of my most anticipated books of the year drops!!!!

  26. 4 out of 5

    no

    i can imagine 90% of janet's dialogues and internal monologue in martin freeman's voice

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lexie

    I went into this book intrigued for three reasons: - Claire O'Dell is the (open) pseudonym for fantasy author Beth Bernobich, who's works I adore - Female Sherlock Holmes and Watson! - Near Future/quasi-scifi leanings! The fact both of them were black and queer didn't even register with me - I saw the cover (which of course features two Black women - also I love this cover), but I hadn't read the backcover before I was requesting the book. This is a compelling read. Yes, I used the word compelling an I went into this book intrigued for three reasons: - Claire O'Dell is the (open) pseudonym for fantasy author Beth Bernobich, who's works I adore - Female Sherlock Holmes and Watson! - Near Future/quasi-scifi leanings! The fact both of them were black and queer didn't even register with me - I saw the cover (which of course features two Black women - also I love this cover), but I hadn't read the backcover before I was requesting the book. This is a compelling read. Yes, I used the word compelling and yes I meant it. While the bare bones of the well trod Sherlock mythos are here, O'Dell gives us a new take that grounds the story in a very real sense of the world. We're not given the exact year this is set, but its after the current presidency and its explicitly stated that the war Watson fought in is a result of the world this presidency encourages. (view spoiler)[but I won't get into my own politics - cause I agree with a lot of the conclusions drawn and implied here as well as can easily see this sort of thing occurring in the real world (hide spoiler)] It gives this an undercut of tension while I was reading, a sort of fear that "holy shit this is all too true" feeling. It made it hard at times to read as fast as I wanted. Emotionally I got overwhelmed; with how Watson felt, with how she reacted, with how the world was. But I needed to know what was going to happen. I needed to know how the puzzle pieces fit together, why it all mattered. So many things that on the surface amounted to very little - the death of a veteran who was obviously haunted by the demons from the War, a military Doctor who disappeared, a squadron who disobeyed orders - these are all so mundane, so common, but Watson felt it was imperative to dig deeper. And that urgency, that drive, made me feel it too. Holmes, Sara Holmes, is both every frustrating characteristic of Sherlock Holmes and all the best parts amplified. She is not written more "feminine" or in any fashion that would pigeon hole her as "oh she's just a female Holmes" and easily dismissed. She's fascinating because honestly her behavior is so gender non-specific. She's not warmer because she's female nor did it seem to give her any special insight. Her calculations and intelligence are genderless; her motivations and her actions equally so. If Watson didn't remind us that Holmes was female, I'd be hard pressed to find any where in the narrative (that isn't a physical description of her) that points to that conclusion. In the end, like most Holmes' tales, the mystery has a very common place motivation. And for me, this book became way less about the mystery then it did about who Watson would be at the end. Would she still be the bitter, veteran who just wanted a device that would allow her to reclaim a part of herself she considered essential? Would she recapture any of the idealism she had before she joined the War effort 3 years prior? Or would she, like so many of her comrades in arms, succumb to the misery the world was forcing onto the broken and discarded in the name of progress?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Lunsford

    I had hoped for more from this novel based on reviews. The futuristic part was based on the idea of white supremacists starting another civil war. The mystery hinged around soldiers being given dodgy drugs to make them "super soldiers" with the usual fatal drawbacks. The character of Watson was pretty well fleshed out, the Holmes character much less so. I knew that the dying soldiers had been given dodgy drugs early on because this is a familiar and tired trope.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Honestly, I'm a bit annoyed about the author's attempt to write with a black voice. I only made it to chapter 4, but every instance of the author trying to point out the problems of race seemed forced and inauthentic. Plus, the introduction of Watson to Holmes was utterly ridiculous and made no sense, honestly. I will not be finishing this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Berni Phillips

    I loved this. I'm not the biggest Sherlock Holmes fan, but O'Dell's take on the Holmes/Watson mystique in this book really worked for me. I liked that the focus was on Dr. Janet Watson throughout with Sara Holmes somewhat obscured and definitely mysterious. I hope this is the first of a series and that Holmes becomes less of a mystery in later books, but I really liked having Watson be the primary character. This is a Holmes/Watson for the 21st century: two black women, lesbians, living in Washing I loved this. I'm not the biggest Sherlock Holmes fan, but O'Dell's take on the Holmes/Watson mystique in this book really worked for me. I liked that the focus was on Dr. Janet Watson throughout with Sara Holmes somewhat obscured and definitely mysterious. I hope this is the first of a series and that Holmes becomes less of a mystery in later books, but I really liked having Watson be the primary character. This is a Holmes/Watson for the 21st century: two black women, lesbians, living in Washington DC just a few years in the future. The country is still suffering from the tragic devastation wrought by the 45th president, a devastation which has resulted in a second Civil War. Watson is a disabled vet, a military surgeon who lost an arm in an attack by the New Confederacy. She has been given a mechanical arm, but it is substandard and needs to be replaced before she can be a surgeon again. As she unhappily navigates the VA system and job-hunting, she meets the eccentric Sara Holmes, who needs a roommate for the fabulous apartment Watson could never afford. It's soooo much better than the cheap hostel Watson had been staying in that she can't resist moving in with Holmes. Watson, in her new job as a medical tech, gets caught up in her patients, even in the meager 15 minutes she's allowed to spend with them. They are all her, wounded vets trying to get by when they've lost so much of themselves. They raise questions in her mind that she's compelled to find answers for. And you know that never ends well. Just read this. It's fast. It's breath-taking. I can't wait for more.

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