Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A Curious Incident by Vicki Delany

"I am not a Consulting Detective," Gemma Doyle reluctantly tells 10-year-old Lauren Tierney, when the little girl comes to the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium to beg Gemma to find her missing cat, Snowball. Gemma might not be able to follow the clues to find the cat, but her dog Violet follows her nose to locate the missing kitten in a neighbor's garden shed. Gemma and Violet proudly return Snowball to her grateful owner, and Gemma basks in praise for a job well done. But a few days later Lauren is back with ten dollars in hand, wanting to once again hire a consulting detective, and this time for a far bigger job: Her mother has been accused of murdering her garden club rival.

Sheila Tierney's garden, which everyone said was the one to beat for the West London Garden Club trophy, had been vandalized the night before the club's early summer tour. Sheila confronted her former friend and gardening partner Anna Wentworth in a towering rage, and the women nearly came to blows. Later that night, after having won the trophy for best garden, Anna is found murdered and Sheila Tierney is the police's prime suspect.

Despite herself, and despite the disapproval of her police detective boyfriend Ryan Ashburton, the game is once again afoot, and Gemma finds herself and Jayne Wilson using their powers of deduction to ponder yet another curious incident.

Series: Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #6 | Publisher: Crooked Lane Books |Release Date: January 12, 2021 | Genre: Cozy Contemporary Mystery | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4 Cups

Bookshops, Sherlock Holmes, and a garden to die for? It was just as intriguing as it sounds.

Here’s what’s going on. When a young girl comes to Gemma to find her missing cat, Gemma never expected that the girl would return begging her to clear her mother of a murder charge. Unable to say no, Gemma soon finds herself trying to figure out if Sheila’s vandalized garden was motive for her to murder her former best friend and garden club rival, Anna.  While Sheila swears she’s innocent her actions, and the fact she possibly skipped town leaving her daughter on her own, has Gemma wondering if Sheila truly is guilty. To make matters more interesting, Gemma now finds herself looking after Sheila’s daughter, Lauren, while trying to catch a killer.

This cozy mystery was a pleasant surprise. While I’ve read—and enjoyed—a few of Vicki Delany’s Year Round Christmas Mysteries, this was the first in her series that I’ve read. I was a bit worried because this is the sixth book in an established cozy mystery series but I had no problem following along.

Gemma was an easy character to like. She’s rather unique and has clever reasoning as well as brilliant observation skills. And while these traits annoy some, I found that they made her rather interesting. The secondary characters, Gemma’s best friends, were just as fun and intriguing and gave this book a bit more depth.

Like most cozy mysteries, there is a love interest for Gemma, which so happens to be police detective, Ryan. Because I started so far in with this series, the relationship was established and it was nice to see a healthy adult relationship rather than a constant love triangle.

The mystery in this one wasn’t difficult to solve and I had an inkling from the start but I still enjoyed watching Gemma’s process of elimination. I also enjoyed the red herrings thrown in.

While this is a cozy mystery, this book was also very character driven yet I didn’t feel as though one aspect was more prominent than the other. They blended brilliantly to make one of the most well-rounded, fleshed out cozy mysteries I’ve read.

Overall, I enjoyed this one. There are references to Sherlock—both the books and the show—and it has a similar tone with the original Sherlock books. I look forward to reading the previous books in the series as well as seeing what types of investigations Gemma gets involved in in future novels. 

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