A Three Book Problem
A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery
The seventh installment in a “fast, fun” cozy mystery series “full of Sherlockian lore” and starring “a charming, intelligent heroine as observant as The Great Detective Himself” (Carolyn Hart, New York Times–bestselling author)
Sherlockian bookshop manager and frequent amateur sleuth Gemma Doyle is back on the case when a poisoned dart ends in demise . . .
It’s a crisp, early October weekend, and business is slowing down as fall descends at the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium and adjacent Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room. Wealthy philanthropist and prominent Sherlockian David Masterson has rented Suffolk Gardens House, where he plans to entertain his friends in a traditional English country house weekend.
As the chosen caterers, Jayne Wilson and Gemma Doyle get to work preparing lavish meals and setting up Sherlockian books and props for entertainment. Meanwhile, police detective Ryan Ashburton has taken time away from his duties to assist in the kitchen. It quickly becomes apparent that David’s guests don't like each other—or their host. Plus, some of them aren't even acquainted with the adventures of the Great Detective.
Before Gemma can ponder their relationships a poisoned dart sails through the window of the library, presenting Gemma Doyle with a three-book problem.
Delany's enjoyable seventh Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery (after 2021's A Curious Incident) finds Gemma Doyle, the owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Cape Cod, helping a wealthy devotee of the canon host a Sherlockian weekend at a house rented for the occasion. Aided by her best friend, Jayne Wilson, the manager of Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room, Gemma arranges for people to pose as Victorian servants and provides catering and Sherlockian paraphernalia. Gemma soon picks up on undercurrents of tension among the guests, overhearing snatches of conversations that she gives further scrutiny to after one attendee is murdered. The homicide method, a poisoned dart, is straight out of Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four. Gemma's discovery that the victim was the author of a new theory about the canon's master blackmailer, Charles Augustus Milverton, proves crucial to the subsequent police inquiry. While the plot line has been done better before, Delany does a decent job of capturing the feel and discourse of a gathering of Sherlockians. This is her best series entry to date.