Book Review: The Last of August

the last of augustRating: Fire star-1991908_1920star-1991908_1920star-1991908_1920star-1991908_1920

The Last of August is the second book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy (The first book is A Study in Charlotte). In this book, we delve again into the mysterious world of Holmses and Watsons, except international! This book takes place primarily in England and Germany, so that’s exciting. Also, we get a deeper look into the rest of the Holmes family, which I’ll discuss later.

Jamie and Charlotte are spending winter break at Charlotte’s estate, when her beloved Uncle Leander goes missing, after being private about his work in a German art forgery ring. Mystery back on the brain, Charlotte and Jamie travel to Berlin and contact Charlotte’s brother, Milo. With him comes August Moriarty. They follow the underground market in Germany, and learn that this case may be a lot more than just a disappearance, and a lot more dangerous.

As with the previous book, Jamie narrates the story. I personally really like Jamie (he seems like the most sane character of the bunch). However, there were a couple paragraphs in the middle where Charlotte narrated, due to Jamie being knocked out. Her narrations are so different than Jamie’s so it was a nice little break and added some humor during a dark part of the story.

Some of the dynamic between Charlotte and Jamie is still the same. For example, Charlotte still withholds tons and tons of information from Jamie and leaves him in  the dark. However, I enjoyed watching Jamie become frustrated with being the sidekick and start to take a more active role in the case. He’s becoming braver, and I hope this development continues in the next book.

“I’m not stupid. I’ve never been stupid. I got good grades. I paid attention when someone was teaching me something, and I made it a point to learn it fast. Fine, I didn’t have Holmes’s training or her aptitude, but just because I wasn’t a genius didn’t mean that I wasn’t smart.”

But following the events of the previous book, their angst levels related to each other has gone way up. Like, if there was an award for relationship angst, these two would win. Jamie is starting to realize his feelings for Charlotte, but Charlotte is rejecting him for reasons she hasn’t totally made clear yet. This causes a strain on their relationship, as Jamie also becomes upset with Charlotte. Their relationship walks a fine line between complicated feelings and toxic, but I think Cavallaro managed to keep it healthy (although angst filled for sure!) Intermixed with this tension are some romantic moments at night, which kind of breaks your heart at the sadness these characters feel. It’s obvious they both still care about each other, but Charlotte is dealing with the repercussions of a previous event. Even so, she treats Jamie unfairly, and almost takes him for granted.

As much as I liked Charlotte in the first book, she started to get on my nerves during this book. mostly because it was obvious she had her own agenda and was keeping Jamie in the dark from some important information, which meant that the reader was also lost and confused. She does have a heart towards the few people she cares about (Jamie, August, and Milo), and is extremely loyal to them in her Charlotte Holmes way, and those are redeeming qualities. She’s also insanely smart, so it’s fun to watch her brain whirl. However, she does something at the end that is very wrong, and I’m hoping it is cleared up in the next book so I can continue to like Charlotte.

During this book, we got to delve deeper into the Holmes, Watson, and Moriarty families. It was interesting, and also shows how the characters became a little crazy. None of them have good familial relationships. The closest relationships are between Jamie and his father and Charlotte and her uncle, and neither of these relationships are superb. We are introduced to Charlotte’s parents, and get more detail on Milo in this book. The Holmes really are a very cold, practical, secretive bunch, but I have to say Milo was growing on me as I continued to read. It’s obvious that they are all very smart, but it seems to be that the relationships between them (especially the mother and father) are lacking. Charlotte and Milo had some sweet moments, but again, nothing brother of the year worthy. We also get to finally meet the infamous Moriartys, and they (minus August) are every bit as manipulative and vengeful as suspected. August, Hadrian, and Phillipa all play an active role in the plot of the book. I honestly felt for August more than expected, because he really has screwed over by Charlotte and had to deal with the repercussions of it and ended up having a sucky life after. He was torn between staying Milo’s little secret, out of the world, or returning to his family and intensifying the war between the Moriartys and Holmeses. However, he was a little spineless, and caused some unnecessary love triangle-esque drama. Jamie’s father tried to play a more active role in this book, but to me, still came off as out of the loop and out of touch with his son. Leander was an unexpected pleasure, with his eccentricities and wit, and seemed to be the friendliest Holmes.

This might be because I’m not an experienced mystery reader yet, but as with the last book, I had no idea how the story was going to end. I was constantly being pulled in different directions, led to believe one thing only to have it completely reversed on me at the last minute. The ending in particular really felt like the climax of the book, where everything is comes into the open, blows up in the character’s face, and then ends. I was confused after it ended, because there was no elaboration on anything that happened. So many new elements were thrown into the mix, and then the book ended abruptly. That was upsetting to me, and one of the reasons why this book is only a four star. I was very lost when the book ended, and I’m hoping the last book clears up what happened. 

Overall, I think this was a good second installment in the Charlotte Holmes Trilogy. I would definitely recommend reading the A Study in Charlotte first, though. It was more complicated and intricate than A Study in Charlotte, and I think it’s building towards the finale in the last book. The characters become more fleshed out, more flawed, and the cases are just as unsolvable but gripping.

Have you read this book? What did you think of the ending? How does it compare to the first book?

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