Review: ELEMENTARY, SHE READ, A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery, by VICKI DELANY.

A literate, clever and enthralling contemporary murder mystery with no offensive material.elemshereadcvr

Rated 5 out of 5 stars by Iris Chacon.

This writer received an Advance Reading Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest, objective review.


The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium adjoins Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, at 222 Baker Street, in a Cape Cod town called West London, Massachusetts. Gemma Doyle (no relation to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) runs the shop, but she claims to be no particular fan of Holmesian literature and collectibles. The Holmes fan in the family is her Great Uncle Arthur (also no relation to Sir Arthur), who started the business. Gemma moved from her native England to take over the bookshop when Great Uncle Arthur decided to retire.

While the murder mystery is just fine, with all the suspects, clues, and red herrings a mystery reader expects, the crowning glory of the book is the pervasive presence of Sherlock in all his incarnations. From The Strand magazine to Basil Rathbone to Robert Downey, Jr., and Benedict Cumberbatch, all things Holmesian appear here. A delicious ongoing irony of the story is Gemma’s insistence upon her own apathy towards Holmes while, at the same time, thinking and acting exactly like him. She deduces a customer’s life history with one look when they enter her shop. She has a cat called Moriarty, who is definitely her enemy. She has loved and lost — not Irene Adler, of course, but Ryan Ashburton, a police detective.

Mystery fans will gobble this one greedily, and Sherlock lovers will revel in the many and varied allusions to Holmes stories, movies, keepsakes, and trivia. Are you bored, waiting for the next Robert Downey movie or the next BBC television production with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman? This is the book that will feed your Holmes hunger with humor and intelligence worthy of the great sleuth.


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