A Three Book Problem – Vicki Delany

“‘You’re sure we didn’t go through a warp in the space-time continuum and end up in Jolly Old England?’

Gemma Doyle – not related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – co-owns and runs a Sherlock Holmes-themed bookstore in Cape Cod. However, in this book Gemma, best friend Jane, and most of the action, takes place in Suffolk Gardens House, built to look like an old-school English country estate. This makes it perfect for a weekend of Sherlock-related chat, games, movies … and of course, murder!

I went straight into this from the previous instalment, A Curious Incidentand that perhaps leads to a slightly lower mark for this one. It’s still my favourite book-themed cosy mystery series, not least because it is a mystery first with the genre trappings (a little romance, pets, scones, etc) kept firmly as background. However, I found the plot just a little derivative – mystery standard, if you like – compared to previous novels.

We start with a disparate group being gathered in a big house for a party weekend, only for tensions to start to show almost instantly. Why these people, especially when several seem to have no interest in Sherlock Holmes, which was supposed to be the theme? Gemma is soon trying to figure out motives for attendance, and of course who had motive for murder.

I still love Gemma as a main character, she’s a little unsocial and very logical. Still, I don’t think this one finds her at her best, as the plot requires her to be almost abrasively nosy into the other guests’ personal lives.

Still, it was – as ever with the series – a fun read, and I wish other cosy mysteries got the balance as right with the different elements.

NetGalley eARC: 320 pages / 19 chapters
First published: 2022
Series: Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery book 7
Read from 11th-15th January 2021

My rating: 7/10

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