By Vicky Delany
Publication Date: January 10, 2023
This is book eight in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series and as I was reading, I kept asking myself, “How did I not know about these books?” I obviously need to broaden my cozy mystery horizons.
While I don’t know the origin of how Gemma Doyle came from London to West London, Massachusetts, I can fill in some of the basics for others not in the know. (While I’ll admit to never having read the series penned by Arthur Conan Doyle, I have seen a few movies and series so I’m somewhat well versed.) Gemma co-owns the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium (guess what they sell?) with her great-uncle as well as the tea shop next door, with her best friend Jayne (whom, I presume, is Watson to Gemma’s Sherlock.) Gemma does indeed have a keen eye for detail, as well as a solid hold on her emotions (something I appreciate in a female character). In addition, her sister, Pippa, holds an ultra-secret position high in the British Government, so there we have a female Mycroft.
I took a moment to go over the above because I spent a good deal of time trying to sort out just how this book was intended to mimic Sherlock Holmes. If you’re way ahead of me and didn’t need the tutorial, thank you for reading it anyway.
In this book, Gemma is asked by the local historical society to spend the night at The Scarlet House due to rumors of a haunting. Gemma reluctantly agrees and while strange things do appear to be afoot, she’s sure it’s more likely a prankster than a ghost. Then Gemma and Jayne stumble across the body of one of the volunteers and even though Gemma is still convinced the culprit isn’t a ghost, someone is definitely trying to frighten people out of the historic site.
Is someone attempting to get a good deal on the property, knowing the historic society is in dire financial straits, and their attempts to frighten went too far? Could the mystery be linked to the reclusive aging pop star who is wintering in West London? Gemma needs to figure out what’s going on before any more of the living join the hypothetical ghost.
Even though this book is well into the series, I wasn’t lost. The plot was easy to follow and there are enough details hinted at from previous books that my curiosity was piqued. I may go back and read some of the earlier novels, see what I’ve been missing.
I loved the setting (small sea-side town on Cape Cod) and none of the characters were too over the top. Gemma’s style reminded me a bit of an Anne Perry character – nothing frivolous but still sympathetic. I did feel like a lot of the mystery was solved off stage, and characters popped up conveniently to proffer a needed piece of the puzzle. Still, it was a brilliant manipulation of several characters without feeling overwhelming and no loose strings at the end.
I recommend this one to the cozy mystery aficionados out there, especially if you have a fondness for all things Sherlock Holmes.
4/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing the ARC. I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.