Gemma and Jayne donate their time to raise money for the rebuilding of a burned out museum—but a killer wants a piece of the auction—in this fourth Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery
Walking her dog Violet late one night, Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, acts quickly when she smells smoke outside the West London Museum. Fortunately no one is inside, but it’s too late to save the museum’s priceless collection of furniture, and damage to the historic house is extensive. Baker Street’s shop owners come together to hold an afternoon auction tea to raise funds to rebuild, and Great Uncle Arthur Doyle offers a signed first edition of The Valley of Fear.
Cape Cod’s cognoscenti files into Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, owned by Gemma’s best friend, Jayne Wilson. Excitement fills the air (along with the aromas of Jayne’s delightful scones, of course). But the auction never happens. Before the gavel can fall, museum board chair Kathy Lamb is found dead in the back room. Wrapped tightly around her neck is a long rope of decorative knotted tea cups—a gift item that Jayne sells at Mrs. Hudson’s. Gemma’s boyfriend in blue, Ryan Ashburton, arrives on the scene with Detective Louise Estrada. But the suspect list is long, and the case far from elementary. Does Kathy’s killing have any relation to a mysterious death of seven years ago?
Gemma has no intention of getting involved in the investigation, but when fellow shopkeeper Maureen finds herself the prime suspect she begs Gemma for her help. Ryan knows Gemma’s methods and he isn’t happy when she gets entangled in another mystery. But with so many suspects and so few clues, her deductive prowess will prove invaluable in A Scandal in Scarlet, Vicki Delany’s shrewdly plotted fourth Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.
A fire at Scarlet House, one of the oldest properties in the Cape Cod town of West London and now the headquarters of the local museum, kick-starts Delany's well-plotted fourth Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery (after The Cat of the Baskervilles). A fundraising auction is quickly organized to offset the cost of repairing the building at Mrs. Hudson's Tearoom. Before Kathy Lamb, a member of the museum board and designated auctioneer, can bring down the hammer on the first lot, she's strangled in the tearoom's storage area. Following in the footsteps of the great detective, Gemma Doyle, who manages her great-uncle Arthur's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, investigates. However, as she observes: "As well as not having a retail business to interfere in the pursuit of his cases, or customers to interrupt his thinking, Sherlock Holmes hadn't been trying to have a love life either." Each of the many suspects has at least one plausible motive. Delany's liberal sprinkling of references to real pastiche novels and reference books makes this cozy a treat for Holmes buffs.