Elementary, She Read (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #1)
by Vicki Delany (Goodreads Author)
Amy Caudill‘s review
The first installment in this lovely cozy mystery series features Gemma Doyle, who may or may not be related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and is part-owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookstore and Emporium at 221 Baker St., West London, Massachusetts. This series, set in the present, contains many allusions to both Victorian literature and “Sherlockians,” fans of the great detective.
As a fan of Sherlock myself, I was intrigued by the concept of a modern day version of the detective series, and I love that the main protagonist, Gemma, while not actually a fan herself, seemingly has much in common with Sherlock Holmes. She is extremely observant and direct to the point of bluntness, facts which her friends tolerate and understand but strangers sometimes find unsettling or offensive.
Her partner Jayne, co-owner of Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, next door to the bookstore, is pulled into playing Gemma’s reluctant John Watson, as Gemma investigates the murder of the owner of a potentially valuable first edition print of one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories that is left hidden inside her store.
With a supporting cast of characters including a local reporter named Irene, a former love interest for Gemma in Detective Ryan Ashburton, a rival/foil in another Detective, Louise Estrada, and a comic relief character in Jayne’s boyfriend Robbie; author Vicki Delany has set the stage for a rich “universe” to draw on in furthering this series.
The mystery itself involves greed, theft, inheritance and multiple murders; and includes a number of suspects; though the true killer isn’t revealed till nearly the end of the story. Gemma conducts her own investigation, alongside and in spite of warnings from the police, and has plenty of false starts and leads that don’t pan out before the exciting conclusion, which contains the only scene where the action is present and not just a dead body after the fact.
The author also included numerous references to books written in the Holmesian style by other authors, both classic and modern, as well as other detective stories from the Victorian and Edwardian era, which is only appropriate as one of the main settings is a bookstore. Unfortunately, the distraction was too great for me as I stopped reading multiple times to get on Amazon and find out more about the different books mentioned!
Overall, this book contained a number of interesting characters and an absorbing plot, so I will look forward to exploring more in the series. I give this book 4.5 stars.