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.

Monday, November 30, 2020

A Curious Incident by Vicki Delany

(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
ressng to Impress


  1. I give Vicki Delany a lot of credit, Bill, for having multiple series as she has. In all three series, she creates interesting characters and solid mysteries. That takes talent. And I couldn't agree more that it's nice to have characters who aren't sunk in dysfunctional problems. I appreciate being reminded of her work.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Vicki has an amazing imagination creating all those sleuths and characters. I sometimes wonder if writers find it easier to create dysfunctional characters.

  2. Bill, I have read the first book in the Constable Molly Smith series and have the second one to read sometime in 2021. I will probably try some of her other series as Eva Gates eventually.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. I have liked the Lighthouse Library and the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series the best.