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.
There’s A Murder Afoot: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery
5th in Series
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (January 7, 2020)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Mass Market Paperback (November 24, 2020): 336 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07NKR3F3N
Just in time for Sherlock Holmes’s 166th birthday, the fifth installment in national bestselling author Vicki Delany’s Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery takes Sherlockania to the max with a Holmes convention and historic 221 Baker Street.
Gemma Doyle and her friends travel to London for a Sherlock Holmes convention–but will Gemma’s father take the fall for a felonious forger’s fatality?
The 6th of January is Sherlock Holmes’s birthday, and lucky for Gemma Doyle, January is also the slowest time of the year at both the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, and Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room. It’s a good time for Gemma and her friends to travel to England for a Holmes Convention. For Gemma, the trip provides an opportunity to visit her parents, Jayne Wilson is excited about seeing all the sites London has to offer, and Ryan Ashburton just wants to spend some time with Gemma. But the trip is immediately derailed when Gemma’s father Henry recognizes his brother-in-law Randolph Denhaugh, who disappeared more than thirty years ago on the night he stole a valuable painting from his own parents.
Henry, a retired detective with Scotland Yard, has been keeping tabs on the man’s career as a forger of Old Masters and he warns Randy to stay away from his family. It’s up to Gemma, with the help of her friends, to plunge into the “lowest and vilest alleys” of London to save her father from prison.
Gemma, Jayne, Ryan, Donald, and Grant have traveled across the pond for a Sherlock Holmes Convention where Gemma is a featured speaker and she will accept an award on her Uncle Arthur’s behalf. She will also get to spend some time with her parents and her sister Pippa.
She also meets another member of her family, her mother’s brother, Randolph Denhaugh. The black sheep of the family, he disappeared 30 plus years ago after a valuable painting was stolen from her parent’s house. Gemma’s father, Henry, a retired Scotland Yard detective tried to keep tabs on the man who is said to be an art forger of the Old Masters. He wanted Denhough to stay away from his family but he never imagined he would be killed and that Henry himself would be the prime suspect.
Gemma has had a little experience as an amateur sleuth and she sees she is going to have to find the real killer herself because the lead detective has already decided Henry is guilty. Thankfully she has her friends along to help her and maybe her sister Pippa too. They are all committed to keeping Henry out of prison and won’t be flying back to the states until the real culprit is caught.
I loved that these characters traveled to London and that we were able to meet Gemma’s parents and sister. Gemma really traveled around to follow each clue to prove her father’s innocence. I found it quite funny the lengths she went to to keep her friends occupied when they weren’t helping her with the case. Donald was in his glory checking out the Sherlock Holmes sights and Grant became quite smitten with Pippa. It was nice to have Henry and Ryan hit it off and also that Jayne and Gemma’s mother Anne became quite close. Ryan didn’t like that Gemma was off investigating but he knew he couldn’t stop her. Pippa really pushed for Gemma to take on the case and she really couldn’t refuse.
The people back in the states were not forgotten. Gemma and Ashleigh checked in regularly with each call bringing more worry to Gemma. Arthur was definitely not the right person to leave in charge but one of the mishaps made me laugh out loud.
The mystery was a complicated one. Randolph Denhaugh was a man with few friends and plenty of enemies. Pippa was a woman of mystery herself which added some very intriguing twists to the story. She quickly became my favorite character in this book.
As a reader, I donned by virtual deerstalker cap to try to solve the whodunit before Gemma could but I failed miserably. Ms. Delany plotted this story out beautifully and totally surprised me with the big exciting reveal. The whiplash twist was great and pulled me to the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed the brisk pace of the story, there was always something happening.
There’s A Murder Afoot is now my favorite book in this series. I loved the realistic characters and the way Gemma’s friends really supported her throughout the whole adventure with only a few minor complaints. Their vacations definitely didn’t go as planned and I believe all the relationships grew stronger because of that.
Ms. Delany’s vivid descriptions of time and place really made me feel like I was tagging along with the characters the entire way. I do hope Ryan and Gemma get a real vacation soon and that this is not the last we see of Anne, Henry, and Pippa.
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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.”