Elementary, She Read
A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery, Book #1
By Vicki Delany
Author’s Website: http://www.vickidelany.com
Gemma Doyle, a transplanted Englishwoman, has returned to the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod to manage her Great Uncle Arthur’s Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. The shop–located at 222 Baker Street–specializes in the Holmes canon and pastiche, and is also the home of Moriarty the cat. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Homes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room) set off to find the owner, only to stumble upon a dead body.
The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, the dead woman’s suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place themselves at a second murder scene, it’s a race to uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good.
Fans of Sherlock Holmes will delight in the sleuthing duo of Gemma and Jayne in Elementary, She Read, the clever and captivating series debut by nationally bestselling author Vicki Delany.
First off I must say, Vicki Delany is great! This is an auspicious beginning to a new cozy mystery series. I love the way that the author was able to portray a quaint little town and make me feel as though I was actually there, living in the moment and a part of solving of this mystery.
I feel that ‘Moriarty’ is the absolute best name for a shop cat where the majority of the inventory is based on Sherlockania (all things Sherlock Holmes – not just books but memorabilia as well). Moriarity hangs out at Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, which is co-owned by Gemma Doyle (an Englishwoman from London) and her uncle Arthur and is located at (you guessed it) 222 Baker Street, West London, Massachusetts. Moriarty also has ‘attitude’ towards Gemma; reminiscent of my daughter’s cat towards all of humankind….so I definitely could relate to this cat.
The cast for this book certainly had character! I loved how they interacted and was fascinated by how they interacted with Gemma, given her unusual way of seeing and relating with the world herself. In fact, you could say that Gemma was a female Sherlock Holmes. Socially awkward, highly analytical and wicked smart.
It all begins when a stranger leaves an old Strand magazine that is not part of the store’s inventory hidden among the other magazines. Gemma thinks back and does recall a woman that was separate from the travelling bridge group that attended the store earlier in the day. Gemma stumbles across the white bag the woman left in the store among the stacks, containing the valuable Strand magazine. Gemma’s first step was to put this valuable magazine in a safe place – her home safe. From there, Gemma (along with pal Jayne) manage to track down where this woman is staying in town. Unfortunately for this woman, Gemma and Jayne are just a few minutes too late and thus discover the woman has been killed – the first murder victim of the story.
As Gemma stumbles across the murder victim, she is of course the first suspect to be considered by the local constabulary. Gemma thus steps up to try and prove her innocence and pinpoint the actual killer. She methodically supports each suspect in such a way that you are totally on board with her deductions….at least until they are proven wrong. There are numerous twists and turns. These kept me guessing right up until the end.
There is a love component….Gemma used to date (and was in love with) the police detective in charge of this case – Ryan Ashburton. Throughout their interactions, Ryan still had great respect to Gemma’s analytical thought process. I felt they were trying to reconnect and figure out where all had gone wrong. Will there be a future for them? I hope so, but will have to read future books in this series to satisfy this question.
An promising beginning to a new series. We have a great amateur sleuth, which I am sure will be involved in more murders. Hopefully we see more of Jayne as well as Uncle Arthur in the future. I can’t wait to see where this new series takes me. Thank you Vicki Delany for writing a fun, fast paced, cozy mystery…just what I needed to read!
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*