Thursday, October 5, 2017

Body on Baker Street (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery)

Author:  Vicki Delaney
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Audio CD; Digital Book; Audiobook
ISBN #:  9781683312994; 9781683314615; 9781520080246
Crooked Lane Books
320 Pages
$17.70; $15.99; #26.42; $9.99 Amazon
September 12, 2017; January 9, 2018 (Paperback)


Gemma Doyle and Jayne Wilson are busy managing the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Baker Street and adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room in anticipation of the store's upcoming book signing with the illustrious Renalta Van Markoff, author of the controversial Hudson and Holmes mystery series.  But during the author Q&A session, dedicated Sherlockian Donald Morris verbally attacks Renalta and her series for disgracing Sherlock's legacy, only to be publicly humiliated when the author triumphantly lashes back and gains the upper hand.  That is until Renalta collapses on the table - dead.

Donald insists he didn't do it and pleads to his friends to clear his name.  Fortunately, Gemma and Jayne have no shortage of suspects between the author's bullied personal assistant, her frustrated publicist, the hapless publisher, a handsome rare book dealer, an obsessively rabid fan, and world of other Sherlock enthusiasts with strong objections to Renalta's depiction of the Great Detective.  It's up to the shrewd sleuthing duo to eliminate the impossible and deduce the truth before the West London police arrest an innocent man.


Gemma Doyle, along with her Uncle Arthur (I know, right?  Arthur Doyle?) are co-owners of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, and Gemma is co-owner along with Jayne Wilson of the adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room.  When Gemma receives a telephone call telling her that a famous author wants to do a short speech and signing of her books - in two days - Gemma is floored, but since the books are quite popular, she agrees, and scrambles to get everything prepared.

What she doesn't count on is the sheer number of fans who show up.  While not fond of the series herself, it appears many others are, and the over-the-top flamboyant author arrives as planned.  But during the Q&A session, after drinking from bottled water, she collapses and dies soon after.  When Gemma's friend Donald - who was heckling the woman - is practically accused of the crime, he begs her to find the person responsible before he's jailed.  Gemma reluctantly agrees, because even though she doesn't know who killed Renalta, she knows Donald didn't.   Gemma will need all of her sleuthing skills if she is to find a killer who is both clever and cold before Donald is unfairly convicted...

I loved the premise of the book, and I love Sherlock Holmes.  I own Doyle's complete book collection, and all of the DVDs by the many actors who have portrayed him.  To wit, I am a huge Sherlock fan, although not as rabid about it as Donald.

That being said, I knew it could only add to my enjoyment of this book, and enjoy it I did.  The book was written well and the plot moved along nicely.  There were plenty of suspects, plenty of red herrings, and plenty of action. 

The main problem is that Gemma, while good at  observation (she picks up on nuances, body language and things not said to come to a logical conclusion) also does things a normal person wouldn't do: breaking into a police station?  Really?  She also comes off as somewhat obnoxious and a know-it-all; she seems to actually enjoy one-upping the local police force.  She's a little hard to like as a person, and one should know if you want to be friends, you don't mock the police officers.

I'm also not convinced Ryan is the man for her.  Yes, she ruined his proposal; but he should know how her mind works and accept that, which he didn't.  A man who truly loved her would have just shaken his head and laughed, expecting it.  He wouldn't run away and leave her heartbroken.  If he can't accept her for who she is, he doesn't love her and perhaps she should move on with her life.

But the big thing was Moriarty the cat.  He apparently likes everyone except Gemma.  As a cat owner, I've found that cats don't like bad people, or people who have hurt them in the past.  The only other explanation is her scent.  (Gemma might want to change her shampoo or body wash).  A cat that likes everyone except you is telling you something important - and everyone around you.  (Perhaps he just doesn't like her superior attitude).

At any rate, luckily the mystery was done beautifully; it took me awhile to figure out who the murderer was (and I'm usually very good at that).  The motive was believable, and Gemma's putting everything together was done nicely.  This is what makes the book a good way to spend a quiet evening.  I look forward to the next in the series.  Recommended.


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