“Elementary, She Read” (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #1) by Vicki Delany
Prior to receiving this Advanced Reading ebook to review, I had not read anything by Vicki Delany. After some research, I discovered that she is a Canadian mystery novelist and she has also published under the pen name of Eva Gates. I will be definitely be keeping an eye out for more works by her.
I have always been a Sherlock fan and I love a good mystery, so this was a real treat to dive into! When asked recently what my favorite book was, which is a painful question to ask any book-lover, I replied with “All of the Sherlock Holmes novels”. (My answer used to be Alice in Wonderland, but Sherlock on this occasion was what I felt myself saying in response.)
This first book in her new Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series drew me in from the start and kept me turning pages until the end. I adore the title and get a look at that eye candy cover art!
The mystery is afoot indeed. From the setup with the quaint bookshop and next door Mrs. Hudson’s Tearoom next to it, to the referencing of Holmsian culture and main character Gemma making small corrections to her customers about Sherlock (Nowhere in the Sherlock tales, did Holmes ever say “Elementary, my dear Watson” even though many think he did, this tale is well-researched and thorough.) The small nods to Sherlock are peppered throughout without being overwhelming. The shop cat being named Moriarty, the protagonist owner having the last name Doyle, and the shop address being located on 222 Baker street are like small winks to the reader. Even the friend of Gemma, Jayne Wilson, makes one think “Aha!” to read the name.
It made me smile to read the shop description. I could vividly picture it and likened it to a book shop close by where I live called “Mystery To Me” There are even small “other” sections in the shop for those looking for books and materials not related to the Mystery genre. They have a small alcove for Sherlock items too.
The main character name of Gemma Doyle clicked with me as soon as I read it and eureka(!) that same character name was used in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray (“A Great and Terrible Beauty”, “Rebel Angels”, and “The Sweet Far Thing” respectively). This was the first time in all my bookwormishness that I have come across a duplicate character name of no relation to the other works.
The mystery unfolds from a very expensive magazine, which leads to Gemma’s personality traits being brought to light. Gemma, it turns out is a powerful deductress! She sees things others don’t, she pieces together information that seems obvious to her yet is astonishing to others, and she is able to solve the mystery before the police. Sounds like another certain sleuth we all know and love, right?
With Gemma, we have not only a smart and independent woman, but we have a police investigator that was a previous beau of hers. (Beu is a word not often used anymore and that needs to change. It is a lovely word. Judge me for using it all you like.) The backstory here is told quickly and to-the-point. Without giving too much away, Ryan couldn’t handle Gemma anyway. He clearly didn’t know her and love her unconditionally. Which is important.
I will gloss over some of the rest of the book because I think it is worth reading for yourself to see what YOU think.
I appreciated all of the new technology references as well as the real-life media and books name-checked.
Despite minor errors speckled throughout, the ending twists I did *not* see coming *at all* and that is fantastic for me because I usually know “whodunnit” if not why. Delightfully I was surprised on all counts with this one!