"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 police’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.
Excerpt“How’d you know the kitchen’s been ransacked?” Estrada said.
“I didn’t tell you that, and you can’t see into the kitchen
from the entrance.”
“Do you doubt everything you’re told, Detective Estrada?
Must be a very difficult way to go through life.”
“It was perfectly obvious,” I said. “I smelled flour, tea,
and sugar the moment we came in. Those are normal scents in
anyone’s house, but tonight they’re of a strength that
indicates they’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 it’s supposed to be
healthy, but I really don’t care for it.
“We can also assume that our intruder is a nonsmoker and
doesn’t apply perfume or aftershave regularly.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t rained for several days, although
the forecast did call for some, so they didn’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.”
“It didn’t get on the floor,” Estrada said. “But it’s all
over the counter.”
“As the front door appears to be untampered with, and I
don’t hand spare keys for my house to all and sundry, I’ll
assume our intruder came in through the back door. Therefore
the kitchen would be the logical first place to search.”
“Enough, Gemma,” Jayne whispered to me.
“I only want to point out the obvious facts.” I’ve been told
on more than one occasion that some people don’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 didn’t seem like a
suitable time in which to stop thinking.
“The back door’s been forced open, yes,” Estrada said. “I’ll
admit, that was a good guess.”
I was about to inform her that I never guess, but Jayne
elbowed me in the ribs.
“I still think,” Estrada continued, “you know way too much
about what went on here when you were supposedly not at
home. Never mind the dog. She doesn’t seem to have done much
to frighten off an intruder. She didn’t have to be locked up
or restrained while this person broke in and searched your
“That was no curious incident,” I said. “She’s a pet, not a
guard dog. What does she care if someone tosses my living
room as long as they don’t attempt to abscond with all the
“I’ve asked the fingerprint techs to come over right away,”
Ryan said. “This is your home after all. In the meantime, I
need you and Jayne to remain in this room.”
“It scarcely matters,” I said. “My fingerprints are
everywhere. This is, as you pointed out, my house.”
Ryan’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 didn’t want me
reading his face. “Is that so? Looks genuine? Very
interesting. Take them into custody. I’m coming back.” At
last, the police searching the hotel room must have found
the jewelry. Took them long enough.
He put the phone away. “We’re done here, Estrada. For now.”
“Sir,” she said, with a glance at me that I didn’t care for
one little bit. “If I might have a word.”
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.
“You two are not to leave town without my permission,” Ryan
“Don’t talk to the press,” Estrada said. “Or anyone else
“We won’t,” Jayne said.
“We’ll see ourselves out.” 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.
“Do this room first,” Ryan said, “then the kitchen and the
“You got it, Detective.”
“What about my car?” I said.
“Take a cab,” Estrada said.
“I’ll put the dog outside,” Ryan said. “Otherwise, she’ll be
in the way. Come on, girl. Gemma, get that lock on the back
door fixed tonight.”
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 one’s identity and presence can
be so small it can’t be seen by the unaided eye.
“If you don’t mind, ma’am, can you step back, please. Give
us some room to work.”
“You’ve missed that spot there.”
“Thank you so much for pointing that out.”
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