Release Date: Nov 13, 2018
Series: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
This is the fourth Gemma Doyle book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series by Vicki Delany, it was my first and can be read as a standalone novel. However, it is important to note that I didn’t really resonate with Gemma or the town, maybe because I did not read the previous novels but Gemma’s interactions with everyone just felt a bit forced to me throughout the book.
The novel follows the sleuthing Gemma Doyle, a British owner of a Sherlock Holmes’ themed book shop in Cape Cod. While walking her dog late one night, she notices that the local museum is on fire and calls emergency services, saving the building. Although the outer shell of the museum was saved through Gemma’s quick phone call, most of the items inside the museum was destroyed in the fire. The town of West London decides to hold an auction with items donated from the local businesses to help get the museum back up and running. The fundraiser is set to be a big hit, however, before it can start the chairwoman of the museum is found dead and a fellow shopkeeper as the main suspect. Gemma doesn’t even actually like the suspected shopkeeper, but she knows that something does not seem right and starts to investigate the case herself with help from her friend Jayne.
I think I was really at a disadvantage from not having read the previous books, the story itself is easy to follow and does not need any back story. However, the characters are already developed and their shared history with each other would have been more understandable had I read the previous books. Gemma is a very smart investigator, and also has a handy “maybe” boyfriend on the police force – which seems to be a bit of a common theme with mystery series. The mystery is entertaining and kept me guessing for the majority of the book due to the plethora of potential suspects and characters. I actually really enjoyed the story itself, and which I could have liked the book better but the writing threw me off.
I was not a fan of the abrupt writing style, it almost seemed a bit amateurism to me and while I was reading I did not feel like I was following someone through a journey but rather, someone was telling me what happened in short sentences. For example the narrative was very much like “I went to the store. I saw this person. I had dinner with her. She talked about her cat. I was tired and wanted to go home.” So because of this writing style, which I know some people really enjoy, I felt like I could not really believe the characters or get into the relationships as much as I would with another author. Everything was told from Gemma’s point of view, so her relationship with her friends and with her love interest just seemed a bit surface level to me. This did get better towards the middle of the book when more actual conversations were happening and I could try and see things from the point of view of the other characters. But honestly, by the time I got to the middle of the book I was already uninterested and not really enjoying the story as much as I could have had the writing been different.
I would recommend this book for those who like quick, easy mystery reads and who do not mind abrupt writing styles.