Rating: 4 Stars
The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro is an exploration of friendship, nature VS nurture, and what happens when everything goes to hell in a hand basket. The second book in the Charlotte Holmes series, this book picks up where the first book left off. Unsurprisingly I enjoyed this book more than the first one because it took more time to flesh out the characters and gave us a whole lot of Moriartys.
Jamie Watson and his best friend Charlotte Holmes are dividing their Christmas break from school between his family and hers. Time with Jamie’s family involves shopping in London and listening to boy bands with his little sister. Time with Charlotte’s family means dinners with diplomats, poisonings, and family members going missing in the middle of the night. When Charlotte’s Uncle Leander goes missing their leisurely Sussex holiday turns into a flight to Berlin and getting involved with art forgers, Charlotte’s older brother Milo… and August Moriarty.
This book was a mess from beginning to end and while sometimes it was a beautiful mess -like a Holmes’ living space- sometimes it was more of a nuclear mess, like Chernobyl. I honestly feel these book should be shelved under something other than mystery because I never walk away from a Charlotte Holmes novel feeling like I just read about a detective solving a case. Rather I’m left feeling like I just watched a monster mash of setups, manipulations, and destruction. It’s a bit like reality TV but better.
Charlotte Holmes doesn’t solve cases; instead she decides something happened and then sets out to prove herself right even if she’s wrong. Charlotte Holmes doesn’t have friends or boyfriends; rather she picks a person and then bosses them around, teases them like a minx, and then pushes them away when it suits her all the wile withholding crucial information. Charlotte Holmes is a terrible, beast who I hate as a person but as a character love her with every fiber of my being.
In the first book I couldn’t decide if Charlotte was terrible or wonderful. In the second book I realized she’s a monster but a broken one and I love her for it. She’s the sort of character who’s flaws will always be front and center because no matter how brilliant she is she’s more broken and she’ll never get over that. I think that’s okay too because she doesn’t have to be perfect to be a perfect protagonist and that is exactly what she is.
Jamie is still my bread and butter, the reason I read and the reason I constantly want to give Charlotte another chance and another. He’s a unique kind of masochist in that he knows that he is one. As a character he is always self reflecting and that allows him to be a character I can relate to. He examines himself, finds his flaws, tries to adjust, makes the same mistake over and over again just sometimes to a lesser degree than the time before. If that isn’t relatable I don’t know what it. Jamie is the best friend I want by my side so if Charlotte doesn’t appreciate him I will.
Then there’s August Moriarty aka my favorite character in this book. August is dead. Charlotte Holmes is the one who killed and yet he forgives her. Or does he? I like that August has been more than one person. He was the golden boy tutor, then he died and became an edgy, artist, secretary type which makes no sense but whatever. He feels everything and everything for him life is a lot and yet his heart remains ‘three sizes too big’ to quote Charlotte Holmes. August was a character I wanted to take away from the author because I didn’t believe she was properly appreciating him. Sadly my petition to adopt didn’t go through and Cavallaro was allowed to keep him and do whatever she wanted with him.
I’m still not behind the Watson/Holmes romance but I did get sucked into the intrigue of it in this book. Charlotte’s reservations are very human and Jamie’s patience and caring is a thing of beauty. I’m still not sold on a female Holmes but mostly because I feel that Charlotte isn’t really a detective so much as a manipulator and I think that just reflects poorly on women. The ending of this book was complete mess. I got lost halfway through it, then there was Milo and the gun and shadows and helicopters… and then it was over. Yeah I’m sorry but I can’t explain it any better than that.
I will be reading the next book. Jamie assures that I will never give up on these books. I also hear the next book has heavy Charlotte POV which I just can’t pass up. As a mystery series these book are a total flop but as a dramatic, high action, murdery sort of detective series these books are spot on. I’m sorry if that is confusing and not helpful but after reading this book by brain is confused and not being helpful.
Until next time, stay passionate and excelsior!