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'A Study in Charlotte': The Newest Take on the Sherlock Holmes Story

Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books
The cover of 'A Study in Charlotte,' by Brittany Cavallaro.

Of all the classic literary detectives, the ones that are still alive and most vibrant in our collective consciousness are the obsessively deductive Sherlock Holmes – and his stalwart friend, biographer and quasi-assistant, John Watson.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote four novels and more than 50 short stories featuring the analytical Holmes, more than a century ago. But Doyle’s version was only the beginning. Holmes and Watson have been adapted for every time and nearly every place in the years since.

There were German books in the early 20th century. There was a Japanese anime series in the 1980s, called Sherlock Hound. And today, there are two modern TV portrayals – the CBS series, Elementary, and the BBC series, Sherlock.

So why the obsession with this turn of the century detective?

"I think we all want to be the crazy, madcap genius' best friend. We want to be that one person who's allowed into that world," says Wisconsin writer, Brittany Cavallaro. Her new book, A Study in Charlotte features Holmes and Watson, but not the two you're thinking of. The book features young Charlotte Holmes and a new James Watson, each the great-great-great grand children of the original Holmes and Watson.

"I think they definitely are icons and that's part of the reason why I feel like I can get in there and reshape them a little bit," says Cavallaro, and it seems like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle agreed with her. "... when he was asked by William Gillette who was playing Holmes in a play, and he wrote Doyle and said, 'Can I change some of my lines?' And Doyle says, and I'm paraphrasing, 'You can marry him or kill him, or do anything you like with him.' Doyle was just done. And I take that as an excuse to make him into a teenage girl."

Cavallaro will be in Milwaukee this month for the launch of A Study in Charlotte at Boswell Books