Sherlock Holmes has been around more than a century; to be precise, since the first story was published in 1887. Since that time there have been countless people who have enjoyed the original novels, plus numerous films, television series, and even off-shoots in the writing category. Some of these writings have imagined stories around a Holmes’ sister, others imagining Holmes in modern days, or creating a sister, widow, niece, etc. for Holmes. It seems that Sherlock Holmes has given rise to a different genre, or “genre lite” if you prefer.
While anyone will tell you I am not a logical person, I have enjoyed following the logic of Sherlock Holmes on occasion. In truth, though, I prefer to arrive at my solutions through intuitive “leaps” that lead me to unearth the correct solution.
Either way, there is nothing like a good puzzle to try and solve. Add that to the mystery genre of cozies, and you usually find yourself with a puzzle, some better than others, surrounded by interesting main and secondary characters. In many cases, there is also the addition of an interesting place to add to the enjoyment of the book.
Such is the case of the most recent cozy I read, There’s A Murder Afoot by Vicki Delany. In this Sherlock inspired cozy, you have a Sherlock mystery bookstore owner who finds herself confronted by murders and who then gets involved in their solution. The book includes some interesting, well developed secondary characters and, in the case of the most recent novel, the interesting place is London. For my review, read on.
This is the fifth in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery series by Vcki Delany. It is a classic cozy, with bookshop owner and amateur sleuth Gemma travels to London with her friends to visit her parents and accept an award for her Uncle Arthur. While at dinner with her parents, Gemma’s father, a retired detective with Scotland Yard, encounters a man unknown to Gemma. Their exchange appears stressed, and Gemma’s father hurries the group away before Gemma can learn more. Later she learns the man is her mother’s uncle, the black sheep of the family, who has been estranged for decades. Gemma’s father was working to keep his wife from encountering her brother and opening old wounds.
Later, at the conference where Gemma is to receive her other uncle’s award, she encounters her newly met uncle. Here he has a booth in the vendor’s section of the conference and is trying to sell some interesting pen and ink drawings of scenes from Sherlock Holmes. Gemma learns the idea for these sketches, which all have a slightly disturbing characteristic, was actually the brain child of another artist which was stolen by her Uncle. Later she learns this is typical of her uncle, who in the past was a noted art forger.
During the conference banquet, Gemma’s uncle is murdered and her father is discovered holding the cord that was used to strangle him. Gemma is plunged into the investigation as the inspector assigned to the case has a rocky relationship with Gemma’s father and immediately moves to arrest him and charge him with murder.
As Gemma looks deeper into her uncle’s life, several suspects appear with various motives for wishing him dead. Could it be the artist whose ideas he stole? What about the art gallery owner who Gemma suspects of dealing with stolen art? Perhaps it’s his former fiance, who has her own issues with the man.
Gemma wanders through London, usually with one or another of her friends in tow, gathering information about motives for various suspects. While she has been successful in getting her father out of jail, she knows the real murder will need to be uncovered for her father to be completely exhonerated.
Overall, there are some opportunities to experience London through the eyes of Gemma and her friends, but not so much this feels like a travelog. In addition, the relationship between Gemma and her boyfriend, Ryan, continues to grow. A bit of humor is injected as Gemma occasionally gets calls from Ashley, her assistant in charge of the bookstore back in the US, usually starting the conversation with something like…”it’s not as bad as it sounds”. All these calls leave Gemma wondering if she will have a bookstore to return to once she has solved the mystery.
For anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries, this is an excellent representative of the genre. If the reader likes to read series, this is one they are likely to enjoy as Gemma and friends are interesting characters who seem well developed. While it isn’t necessary to have read the previous books in the series, if the reader wants to experience relationship developments, it’s probably best to start with the first book in the series.
My thanks to Crooked Lane Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an Advanced Digital Reader copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
As you can probably guess, this isn’t the most gripping novel I’ve read. However, it’s an interesting puzzle with some enjoyable characters and provides the reader with several hours of relaxation. If you like heart-pounding suspense, this isn’t the book for you. If, however, you enjoy reading, getting to know people, and even having an occasional laugh throughout the book, this is one you might want to check out. No matter your choice, Happy Reading.