Elementary, She Read

elementary she read

Elementary, She Read
A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery, #1

Vicki Delany
Crooked Lane Books, 2017

From the dust jacket, “Gemma Doyle, a transplanted Englishwoman, has returned to the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod to manage her great uncle Arthur’s Emporium. The shop—located at 222 Baker Street—specializes in the Holmes canon and pastiche and is also the home of Moriarty the cat. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Holmes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room) set off to find the owner, only to stumble upon a dead body.

“The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, the dead woman’s suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place themselves at a second murder scene, it’s a race to uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good. Vicki Delany’s outstanding series debut is sure to charm the most discerning fan of the great fictional detective.”

What an enjoyable book to read! It was a fast paced read with some good twists and turns. I liked the setting – a bookstore with an adjoining tea room and a pretty New England town. My dislikes are minor – the history between Gemma and the handsome detective confused me at first. I thought that there was a previous book with the two of them in it but once I was satisfied I was only reading history, I wasn’t confused any more (I guess that’s really more of a like than a dislike – so well written was their background story!) I also didn’t like (at first) the fact that the only cat in the series, Moriarty, loved everyone else except for Gemma, whom he thoroughly hated. Then as I thought about it, I realized that Moriarty (the character) would never like to Sherlock Holmes, so it stands to reason that the cat Moriarty wouldn’t like Gemma, the Sherlock-like human. So, that’s also more of a like – another example of fine writing! (I also didn’t like the character of the female detective, but she was very well written to be mean and that’s good!)

As in all the cozies we’ve read, the violence takes place off stage – which we like – and the gory details are left to an absolute minimum. The mystery was good and although my initial suspicions about the murder were correct, I wasn’t absolutely sure until the big reveal. I will be reading the next book in this series.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws for a cozy atmosphere in which to learn more about the fans of Sherlock Holmes!




The Baker Street Translation

baker streetThe Baker Street Translation
A Thomas Dunne Book for Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2013
Reggie Heath is a barrister in London, circa 1998, leasing the offices at 221-B Baker St for his law practice. Does the address seem familiar? It will if you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes! As part of the lease agreement, Reggie must receive and answer all the mail that comes in addressed to Sherlock Holmes. (The standard response is supposed to be that Sherlock is now retired and no longer actively pursuing investigations preferring beekeeping to crime solving.) One day an old Chinese gentleman shows up at his office looking for Holmes and unwittingly involves Reggie, his girlfriend Laura, and her former boyfriend, Buxton, in a murderous plot by anarchists, kidnappers, and toymakers!!
When I picked up the book I didn’t realize it was the 3rd of a series and the characters were already established in their literary lives. As I continued to read – thrown off a little by the seemingly insignificant first couple of chapters of seemingly random events – I realized this book was not the first and felt a little short changed. The novel can stand on its own, but only just. To get to know the characters better I would have to go back and read the other books and that’s the trouble with some serials. I find nothing wrong with reading serial novels, but I do prefer if the books are able to stand on their own without their predecessors. Anyway, the mystery is good and had me guessing mostly to the end. Will I go back and read the previous 2 books? Probably not as there are over 200 other books on my to-read list and I didn’t connect with the characters. Especially Reggie – he was particularly annoying because he was too young to be such a curmudgeon. It was a good thing I read the whole thing in about 4 hours because if I had put it down I would have been hard-pressed to pick it back up!
Rating  2 paws
041716aReviewer: Toby
We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge, 2016
Topic: Read a Book on a Library Display (mom found it by wandering around the library!)
Click on the logo below to go to our SRC page!!
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Death Cloud

8761456Death Cloud

Andrew Lane
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011

Death Cloud is the first book in the “Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins” series; I previously reviewed Rebel Fire which I read out of order. Having read this book makes the first few chapters of Rebel Fire a bit more meaningful. Anyway, this book introduces us a  14 year-old Sherlock who is an outcast at his boarding school, mostly because he is smarter than everyone else – including some of the teachers who resent him. He is looking forward to going home for the Summer of 1868 when his brother, Mycroft, shows up and says their father is on his way to India, his mother and sister are too ill to look after him for the summer and he, Mycroft, is too busy with work. So Sherlock gets booted to a distant relative of the family where he thinks he is going to spend a perfectly boring summer with two old people and one very resentful house keeper. Boy, is he surprised at what happens!!

His new friend, Matty Arnatt, witnesses what looks like a cloud of smoke covering a man’s body and then when it goes away the man is covered with pustules and boils – and is dead. Then Sherlock witnesses the same thing. From there the two boys find out what’s going on and in the process, Sherlock is kidnapped three times, drugged with laudanum, almost burned to death, is beaten up several times, whipped with a metal-tipped bull whip, kills a man and blows up a fort. Quite a boring summer, huh?

The villain is quite pathetic, creepy, amoral and gross. The villain in Rebel Fire was as well. I wonder if this is going to be a theme throughout the series?

I really liked this book and look forward to reading the other seven!! in the series. The story is nonstop action, giving hints of the future detective – and we even learn why he loves bees so much!! This series has been endorsed by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate, so it meets their high standards. Well-written, well-researched and well-done!!!

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws

cropped-nov-18a-2006.jpgReviewer: Toby

Interview with Andrew Lane (author of Young Sherlock Holmes: Death ...  Andrew Lane

Young Sherlock Holmes Young Sherlock Website


And of course, I have to include my mancat crush, the very cool Benedict Cumberbatch, as Sherlock Holmes (although Jonny Lee Miller is coming up a close second).

Rebel Fire

Rebel Fire
Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins

Andrew ‘Andy’ Lane
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011
Originally published in the UK as “Red Leech”

Ever since mom started watching Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes on PBS, we have become enamored of his stories! While searching for a book whose title begins with “R” I came across this one in the library. It is the second one in the series and although I was lost in the beginning when the author referenced events that happened in the first book, I quickly caught up. The year is Sherlock is on the trail of an American assassin whom was thought to be dead. What is he doing in England? And why are those other violent men with him? And, what is so special about the small box they are transporting as well?

Main Character
*Sherlock Holmes, of course, in his early teens but already showing the mind of the genius that is to come. He over hears an conversation between his brother, Mycroft and his American tutor, Amyus Crowe regarding this American assassin, wondering why he’s in England. They talk about a place where this man may be staying so Sherlock and his buddy, Matty, take off on horses to check the house out. As a result, Sherlock is almost killed, Matty is kidnapped and taken to America, with Sherlock, Amyus and Virginia, Amyus’ teen daughter following close behind. Once in America, Sherlock and Virginia set out to rescue Matty only to be kidnapped themselves, barely escaping death at the jaws of some komodo dragons. Interested? I hope so!!

Secondary Characters
*Matthew “Matty” Arnett, Sherlock’s best friend. He is kidnapped by the bad guys to keep Sherlock from chasing after them. They take him to America and promise to let him go once they’re sure they’re not being followed (yeah, right, they’ll probably kill him!).
*Amyus Crow, an American who is tutoring Sherlock as a front for working as a secret diplomat to England.
*Virginia Crow, Amyus’s daughter, whom Sherlock is attracted to but is unable to act on those feelings.
*John Wilkes Booth, the quintessential American assassin, thought to be dead, is very much alive and very insane.
*various henchmen, Grivens, Berle, Ives, Rubinek, all crazy men ready and willing to kill.
*Duke Balthassar, really crazy man who is going to use Booth as a figure head to swell the Confederate Army’s ranks and attack the Union again. He is ruthless, gross, inhuman and inhumane.

 This book is really good. Adventure, intrigue, very fast pace and Sherlock – what’s not to love? There’s a lot of foreshadowing of the adult Holmes’ skills of deduction and thought process. On a side note, this series is the first Young Sherlock Holmes series to be endorsed by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate! I can’t wait to read the other books!!

 Rating: 4 out of 5 paws

selfie 092015ddReviewer: Toby

Andrew Lane  Andrew Lane

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I had to include a photo of B.C. – I’ve got a bit of a mancat crush on him!!