On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
A Scandal in Scarlet (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery)
4th in Series
Setting – Massachusetts
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (November 13, 2018)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Kindle ASIN: B079DWNBV7
Gemma and Jayne donate their time to raise money for the rebuilding of a burned-out museum—but a killer wants a piece of the auction—in this fourth Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.
Walking her dog Violet late one night, Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, acts quickly when she smells smoke outside the West London Museum. Fortunately, no one is inside, but it’s too late to save the museum’s priceless collection of furniture, and damage to the historic house is extensive. Baker Street’s shop owners come together to hold an afternoon auction tea to raise funds to rebuild, and Great Uncle Arthur Doyle offers a signed first edition of The Valley of Fear.
Cape Cod’s cognoscenti files into Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, owned by Gemma’s best friend, Jayne Wilson. Excitement fills the air (along with the aromas of Jayne’s delightful scones, of course). But the auction never happens. Before the gavel can fall, museum board chair Kathy Lamb is found dead in the back room. Wrapped tightly around her neck is a long rope of decorative knotted tea cups—a gift item that Jayne sells at Mrs. Hudson’s. Gemma’s boyfriend in blue, Ryan Ashburton, arrives on the scene with Detective Louise Estrada. But the suspect list is long, and the case far from elementary. Does Kathy’s killing have any relation to a mysterious death of seven years ago?
Gemma has no intention of getting involved in the investigation, but when fellow shopkeeper Maureen finds herself the prime suspect she begs Gemma for her help. Ryan knows Gemma’s methods and he isn’t happy when she gets entangled in another mystery. But with so many suspects and so few clues, her deductive prowess will prove invaluable in A Scandal in Scarlet, Vicki Delany’s shrewdly plotted fourth Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.
Gemma Doyle owns the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop on Baker Street in West London Massachusetts. While out walking her dog, Violet one evening outside of the West London Museum she smells smoke. The fire department arrives and saves most of the house but the furnishings and collectibles are destroyed. To rebuild and refurnish the Scarlet House an auction and tea is held at Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room with prizes donated by the Baker’s Street shopkeepers and other friends of the museum.
After the tea service ends the auction is set to start everything comes to a halt when museum board chair and auctioneer Kathy Lamb is found dead in the storeroom. Police arrive to an entire room of suspects including the deceased ex-husband and his new wife. One of the shopkeepers, Maureen MacGregor, is pegged as the prime suspect though because of a verbal altercation with Kathy prior to the start of the tea that was witnessed by everyone. She has asked Gemma to help prove her innocence. This doesn’t make her boyfriend, Detective Ryan Ashburton, or his partner Detective Louise Estrada happy but with the vast array of suspects, her insights could be helpful.
Gemma Doyle is a fantastic protagonist. She has a keen sense of observation, is smart and independent, and speaks her mind, sometimes to her own detriment. She may be viewed as a little harsh but by this fourth book in the series, she is softening a bit. I think we have the good detective to thank for that. He has learned she can be helpful in solving his cases because she sees and picks up on things other people don’t. Her friend Jayne is the perfect Watson to her Sherlock. Gemma sometimes forges ahead quickly while Jayne does her best to keep Gemma out of trouble. Gemma has a unique assistant in Ashleigh that frees her up and gives her plenty of time to sleuth out clue after clue.
The author has written a very complicated mystery. The deceased wasn’t well-liked and at times was as subtle as a bulldozer when it came to the changes she wanted to make at Scarlet House. Hence, the plethora of suspects. The investigation takes Gemma and Jayne from one end of Baker Street to the other and visiting not one but two yacht clubs. The current mystery may have ties to an old cold case which brings even more intrigue to the story. I was totally kept guessing until the very end and then wanted to kick myself. The K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) theory totally applied in this case and I missed the clues completely.
The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium and the attached Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room sounds like a fabulous place to visit for Sherlock Holmes lovers. Gemma carries several book titles and all types of memorabilia related to all the versions that have evolved over the years. Someone is always taking a new twist on the famous fictional detective and his sidekick.
A Scandal in Scarlet is an excellent addition to this series. As a fan of the Basil Rathbone Holmes portrayal and a fan of Vicki Delany, I don’t know how I got so far behind on this series but I am working to rectify that now. I hope to read and review There’s A Murder Afoot and A Curious Incident soon.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”