Review: Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany

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Overall Score: 9/10

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Fiction

Series: Yes, Book 1

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Source:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Summary (From GoodReads)

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 Emporium. The shop–located at 222 Baker Street–specializes in the Holmes canon and pastiche, and is also the home of Moriarty the cat. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Homes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room) set off to find the owner, only to stumble upon a dead body.

The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, 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 uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good.

Review

Do you like Sherlock Holmes? Do you like a good cozy mystery? If you can answer yes to both these questions, you will adore Elementary, She Read. It’s charming, witty, and smart. This series starter was utterly enchanting. After turning the last page, I added this series to my auto-buy list.

Gemma Doyle moved to the US to take over her uncle’s bookstore, Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. After a mysterious strange hides an extremely rare Sherlock Holmes manuscript in her shop, Gemma tracks her down to return the book only to find the woman murdered. Suspected of the crime, Gemma is determined to use her highly developed powers of observation and deduction to find the real murderer.

The plot of this book is wonderfully intricate and suspenseful. With each new development, I had to reassess my guess of who the murderer was. There was a really nice mix of various unsavory characters and all of their actions were consistent and logical (at least in terms of their characterization). With each new addition, the mystery became more complicated and the stakes became higher. Also, the regular secondary characters (aka the non-unsavory ones) were really developed. Jayne was an interesting foil to Gemma. Their friendship was realistic and I adored it. I would love a best friend with those cooking skills!

There was just a touch of romance in this book and I loved it. It never overwhelms the plot and actually works really well with the mystery (handy when one of the love interests is a member of the policy force). I’m definitely a fan of one of the male characters for Gemma (I don’t want to spoil who but as soon as he appears in the plot, you’re going to love him as well). Hopefully the next book will develop that relationship further.

As for Gemma herself, I absolutely adore her. She has the observational and social skills of Sherlock Holmes but isn’t quite as arrogant or aloof. There are some moments where she shows a surprising amount of introspection, which made her even more relatable. She knows her flaws and how they can affect her relationships (one moment made me a little teary on her behalf).

This was a very excellent beginning to a promising new mystery series. I will be eagerly anticipating the next installment.

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