(41. - 1066.) A Curious Incident by Vicki Delany - Gemma Doyle is doing her best, though not well, to not be annoyed with Lauren, a young girl, who wants Gemma to help find her lost kitten, Snowball. Proclaiming she is not a consulting detective, Gemma grudgingly agrees to keep her eye out for the cat.
Gemma, part owner of The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, in West London on Cape Cod, has an insatiable curiosity but not for lost cats. When she accidentally finds Snowball her reputation as a detective is secured for an adoring girl.
Shortly thereafter the West London Garden Club descends into violence. The garden of a leading contender for best garden, Sheila Tierney, is cruelly “pillaged”. Sheila, blaming the actual winner, Anna Wentworth, confronts Anna. Blows are exchanged. That evening Anna is murdered. Worried for her mother, Lauren who is Sheila’s daughter, pays Gemma $10.00, as an advance on fees, to find the killer.
The real Sherlock Holmes never had to deal with the tempestuous conflicts swirling beneath the genteel surface of passionate gardeners.
Merely curious, not investigating, Gemma speaks to prominent members of the club and visits the scene of the crime.
As well, she learns by listening:
“Can’t help it. A branch of the West London grapevine runs directly through the tearoom and from there into the Emporium.
Detective Louise Estrada of the West London police maintains her disdain for Gemma. The handsome detective Ryan Ashburton remains uncertain about Gemma. He is conflicted, attracted, distracted, fascinated, unsettled, comfortable, frustrated, at ease and wary of Gemma. In an earlier book her deductive skills led her to announce to Ryan that he was about to propose. The ill fated remarks left her a non-fiancee. Yet Ryan still loves her.
Gemma is caught off guard by Lauren’s hero worship. The 11 year old girl, the child of somewhat indifferent parents, even begins to emulate Gemma.
She completely wins Gemma’s heart when, while helping out at the bookshop, she keeps it tidy. For Gemma:
…. my life and possessions are a mess, but at the shop I need everything to be neat and tidy and well organized. Otherwise, how would I keep track of it all? My worst nightmare is people who take things out of their proper place and put them away incorrectly.
The investigation proceeds amidst the hustle and bustle of West London’s busy summer season. The relationships between the ladies of the club are more complex than Gemma had expected.
I would have preferred more of Gemma’s observational and analytical skills. Her investigation is more snooping around than thinking but the ending sees Gemma at her deductive best. The solution is very clever and appropriately Sherlockian. But for Gemma a killer would not have been found.
I continue to appreciate the characters of the series. All have families. None are desperately dysfunctional. They work hard. They play less hard. They do their best to enjoy life. And Gemma continues to be more intriguing than infuriating.
(The book will be available in early 2021. Thanks to Vicki for sending me a copy.)
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; (2020) - There's A Murder Afoot and
Dressng to Impress