"The Essence of Holmes Lives On"
Reviewed by Diana Troldahl
Posted July 17, 2017
An incredibly rare piece of Sherlockian memorabilia, a
main character with appealing quirks and of course a
murder combine in ELEMENTARY, SHE READ, the first in Vicki
Delany's new cozy Sherlock
Holmes Bookshop mystery series.
I was first drawn in to ELEMENTARY, SHE READ by the
premise of a bookshop slash gift shop devoted to the
Sherlock Holmes world. I kept reading because I became
attached to the characters, especially Gemma.
Gemma Doyle is a transplanted Englishwoman living in West
London on Cape Cod. Refreshingly candid, Gemma's keen
observation of her physical surroundings makes her an
asset the local police would be wise to utilize. Couple
those skills with her charmingly myopic inability to
understand or follow some social cues, and she instantly
became one of my favorite sleuths.
ELEMENTARY, SHE READ is cozy in the best possible way. It
features an intriguing story line and amateur sleuth with
a compelling reason to take part in the investigation and
who contributes to finding the solution rather than (as
sometimes happens in lesser books) getting in the way of
the real detectives. It is set in a lovingly described
coastal town with plenty of incidental characters.
Holmes enthusiasts will enjoy Gemma's almost Sherlockian
attention to detail as well as the many nods to those who
have created pastiches of the world created by Arthur
Vicki Delany is the author of several mystery series,
including the Constable Molly Smith series, Year-Round
Christmas series, Klondike Mystery series, the Sergeant
Ray Robertson Rapid Read novellas (all written under the
name Vicki Delany) and the Lighthouse
(written under the name Eva Gates.)
Gemma Doyle, a transplanted Englishwoman, has returned to
the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod to manage her
Great Uncle Arthur's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and
The shop--located at 222 Baker Street--specializes in the
Holmes canon and pastiche, and is also the home of
the cat. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable
magazine containing the first Sherlock Homes story hidden
the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the
adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room) set off to find the
only to stumble upon a dead body.
The highly perceptive Gemma is the policeâ€™s first
so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to
clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books
the dead woman's suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole
family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their
inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place
themselves at a second murder scene, it's a race to
the truth before the detectives lock them up for good.
Fans of Sherlock Holmes will delight in the sleuthing duo
Gemma and Jayne in Elementary, She Read, the
and captivating series debut by nationally bestselling
author Vicki Delany.
Excerptâ€śHowâ€™d you know the kitchenâ€™s been ransacked?â€ť Estrada said.
â€śI didnâ€™t tell you that, and you canâ€™t see into the kitchen
from the entrance.â€ť
â€śDo you doubt everything youâ€™re told, Detective Estrada?
Must be a very difficult way to go through life.â€ť
â€śIt was perfectly obvious,â€ť I said. â€śI smelled flour, tea,
and sugar the moment we came in. Those are normal scents in
anyoneâ€™s house, but tonight theyâ€™re of a strength that
indicates theyâ€™ve been recently dumped from their
containers. Overlaid with the odor of rotting vegetables, by
which I assume the fridge door has been left open. I keep
meaning to eat that kale because itâ€™s supposed to be
healthy, but I really donâ€™t care for it.
â€śWe can also assume that our intruder is a nonsmoker and
doesnâ€™t apply perfume or aftershave regularly.
Unfortunately, it hasnâ€™t rained for several days, although
the forecast did call for some, so they didnâ€™t track mud
into the house. The flour! An unforgiveable oversight on my
part. You will, of course, want to take casts of footprints
that have tracked through the spilled flour and sugar.â€ť
â€śIt didnâ€™t get on the floor,â€ť Estrada said. â€śBut itâ€™s all
over the counter.â€ť
â€śAs the front door appears to be untampered with, and I
donâ€™t hand spare keys for my house to all and sundry, Iâ€™ll
assume our intruder came in through the back door. Therefore
the kitchen would be the logical first place to search.â€ť
â€śEnough, Gemma,â€ť Jayne whispered to me.
â€śI only want to point out the obvious facts.â€ť Iâ€™ve been told
on more than one occasion that some people donâ€™t understand
my attention to detail and thus misunderstand the
conclusions I draw from it. I have tried to stop, but I
might as well stop thinking. And this didnâ€™t seem like a
suitable time in which to stop thinking.
â€śThe back doorâ€™s been forced open, yes,â€ť Estrada said. â€śIâ€™ll
admit, that was a good guess.â€ť
I was about to inform her that I never guess, but Jayne
elbowed me in the ribs.
â€śI still think,â€ť Estrada continued, â€śyou know way too much
about what went on here when you were supposedly not at
home. Never mind the dog. She doesnâ€™t seem to have done much
to frighten off an intruder. She didnâ€™t have to be locked up
or restrained while this person broke in and searched your
â€śThat was no curious incident,â€ť I said. â€śSheâ€™s a pet, not a
guard dog. What does she care if someone tosses my living
room as long as they donâ€™t attempt to abscond with all the
â€śIâ€™ve asked the fingerprint techs to come over right away,â€ť
Ryan said. â€śThis is your home after all. In the meantime, I
need you and Jayne to remain in this room.â€ť
â€śIt scarcely matters,â€ť I said. â€śMy fingerprints are
everywhere. This is, as you pointed out, my house.â€ť
Ryanâ€™s phone rang. He lifted one hand, telling us all to
stay in place, and answered. As he listened, his eyes opened
wide. He let out a low whistle, turned, and walked to the
window, so his back was to us. The sneak! He didnâ€™t want me
reading his face. â€śIs that so? Looks genuine? Very
interesting. Take them into custody. Iâ€™m coming back.â€ť At
last, the police searching the hotel room must have found
the jewelry. Took them long enough.
He put the phone away. â€śWeâ€™re done here, Estrada. For now.â€ť
â€śSir,â€ť she said, with a glance at me that I didnâ€™t care for
one little bit. â€śIf I might have a word.â€ť
They went into the hall. Estrada closed the door behind her.
I righted the overturned desk chair and took a seat. Violet
settled onto the floor beside me. Jayne tiptoed across the
room and stood with her ear pressed to the door.
Fortunately, she heard them returning and leapt out of the
way in time to avoid being knocked senseless.
â€śYou two are not to leave town without my permission,â€ť Ryan
â€śDonâ€™t talk to the press,â€ť Estrada said. â€śOr anyone else
â€śWe wonâ€™t,â€ť Jayne said.
â€śWeâ€™ll see ourselves out.â€ť At that moment the doorbell rang.
Ryan opened it to admit a man and a woman with badges pinned
to their shirts. They carried bags of equipment.
â€śDo this room first,â€ť Ryan said, â€śthen the kitchen and the
â€śYou got it, Detective.â€ť
â€śWhat about my car?â€ť I said.
â€śTake a cab,â€ť Estrada said.
â€śIâ€™ll put the dog outside,â€ť Ryan said. â€śOtherwise, sheâ€™ll be
in the way. Come on, girl. Gemma, get that lock on the back
door fixed tonight.â€ť
Estrada left by the front door, and Violet trotted happily
behind Ryan out the back.
Jayne and I watched the forensics people go about their
business. I have to admit, I find it a fascinating
procedure. Absolute proof to oneâ€™s identity and presence can
be so small it canâ€™t be seen by the unaided eye.
â€śIf you donâ€™t mind, maâ€™am, can you step back, please. Give
us some room to work.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™ve missed that spot there.â€ť
â€śThank you so much for pointing that out.â€ť
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