About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

There’s a Murder Afoot by Vicki Delany

There’s a Murder Afoot by Vicki Delany - Gemma Doyle of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium in West London, Massachusetts has returned home to London, England for a Sherlock Holmes convention. When fictional sleuths travel it can be a challenge for series as continuing characters will be absent. Delany solves that problem by having most of her cast going with Gemma to the convention.

Gemma is in fine form early in the book showing off her observational and analytical skills. She has gained a modest grasp of discretion. She less casually revals to the less brilliant their limitations.

Through Gemma going home we meet Gemma’s parents, Henry (retired police officer) and Anne (active barrister), and her older sister Pippa (mysteriously important government official). Pippa is suitably imperious and brilliant and connected. She is a fine modern day Mycroft. Unlike Mycroft she has an interest in having personal connections, relationships are infrequent and romance is rare.

At the convention Gemma is startled to meet Uncle Randolph “Randy” Denhaugh, the black sheep brother of her mother’s family. Reviled for his past behaviour and cast out by the family Randolph has great charm and significant artistic talent. 

At the convention the devout roam among the vendors of Sherlockian merchandise. There is an inexhaustible selection.

Gemma draws a standing room crowd for an address on her American store which is focused on the Great Detective. The listeners murmur approval when she tells of her efforts to provide Americans with a proper cup of tea.

Uncle Randy draws attention for the number of people with whom he has confrontations during the convention. One contretemps is with Henry. When Uncle Randy is slain at the convention banquet suspicion falls upon Henry. DI Sam Morrison is a master of police tunnel vision. The sisters are disdainful of his investigatory abilities.

Gemma and Pippa instantly, but only temporarily blunt the police focus on father and commence their own investigation.

Gemma is aided by the lovely Jayne Wilson with whom she shares ownership of the Mrs. Hudson Tea Room which is attached to the bookstore. Jayne’s innocent features mask a clever woman.

There is no need for forced entry to snoop. Pippa’s authority is such that doors simply open. Pippa has such presence she could sustain another series.

For Gemma’s boyfriend, Ryan (police officer at home), it is a frustrating time. He is accustomed to leading investigations. As a visitor to a foreign land he cannot unsuccessfully tell Gemma to butt out of his investigations as he does back in Massachusetts and he can hardly complain about her helping her father.

Gemma’s investigation leads to Uncle Randy’s participation in the murky art underworld. His skills as a painter have not been used on original creations.

I did find it hard to believe Henry could be the prime suspect. Even to the close minded Morrison the evidence of Henry’s guilt was slight.

There’s a Murder Afoot is a good book. Gemma is a gifted practitioner of Sherlockian investigations. She demonstrates that the 19th Century investigatory talents of Holmes are as useful in the 21st Century.

Gemma is also a wonderfully likeable character. She has an independent spirit but is not a reckless investigator. I expect many more of her adventures will be published.
Delany, Vicki -

     1.) Const. Molly Smith - (2013) - A Cold White Sun

     2.) Fiona MacGillivray - (2014) - Gold Web

     3.) Writing as Eva Gates the Lighthouse Library Series 
     with Lucy Richardson - (2014) -  By Book or by
     Crook and Bodie Island Lighthouse; (2015) - Women v. Men in
     Clothing Descriptions

     4.) The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries with Gemma
     Doyle - (2017) - Elementary, She Read and Fictional and Real
     Life Bookshops and Sherlock and Where is "Gemma" From?
     (2018) - Body on Baker Street and The Inspiration for Body on  
     Baker Street


  1. I give Vicki Delany a lot of credit for the variety of different series and characters she's written, Bill, and this is a good example. I also like the fact that she can create lighter crime fiction without making it too 'frothy.' That takes skill. And what's not to like about the bookshop context!?

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Vicki has an amazing imagination. I agree "froth" is not a part of her writing. And who could be a better sleuth than the owner of a mystery bookstore?

  2. Bill, this sounds like a clever and an entertaining mystery. The cover and the title suggest as much. I think Gemma's character as a modern-day Sherlock and the other animated characters add to the pleasure of reading the book.

    1. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. It is a good mystery. Vicki does a good job of putting just enough of Sherlock into Gemma.

  3. I am still interested in continuing the Constable Molly Smith series, but I haven't read any other of her series. This series sounds like it would be interesting and entertaining.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. Out of the books of Vicki's I have read from 4 different series I like this series the best.

  4. I think there are other books from her - Whiteout for example - that I'd try before this one.

  5. Col: Thanks for the comment. Vicki has provided readers with lots of choice. As set out above I have read books in 4 different series.