Book Reviews, Mystery

Review: Body on Baker Street by Vicki Delany

Publisher: Crooked Lane Book                       Genre: Mystery 
Release date: September 12, 2017                   Pages: 304

A famous author, with a controversial book series centered on Sherlock Holmes, plans a last minute book signing in the small tourist town where Gemma Doyle and her friend and business partner Jayne Wilson run adjoining Sherlock Holmes themed shops. 

The signing takes a turn for the worst when the author collapses during the signing. And one of the town’s most dedicated Sherlockian’s is the main suspect. Despite being told to stay away from the case by her one-time-fiance Detective Ryan Ashburton, Gemma promises to look into the case to try and clear her friends name. All while running a bookshop full into the swing of the summer tourist season.

Body on Baker Street is the second book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series. In the tradition of the genre, you don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy this one. There is some major character backstory referenced throughout the book, but none of it is necessary to enjoying the story or understanding the characters.

Though the crime itself was largely unremarkable, and featured a murder weapon that even Gemma acknowledged to be a staple of the mystery genre, there were enough twists and turns surrounding the suspects and the motives to make the story enjoyable and to keep me turning the pages.

My main criticisms all had to do with the characters and their relationships with one another. These are the things that make me hesitate when deciding whether I will try another book in this series. Though let’s be real. When it comes to a mystery series centered around a Bookshop owner, especially one with a love of Sherlock Holmes, there is a good chance that I will give it at least a two book chance. But I didn’t immediately run to check if the local library has the first book.

I had a difficult time warming up to Gemma. I found her overly arrogant, condescending, and pretentious. And that was after acknowledging that she was to be the series’ Holmes parallel. For me, this trait was overblown almost to the point of me disliking Gemma.

I also had a difficult time believing some of the relationships she had – in particular with the primary ex-love interest Detective Ashburton. In this genre, the main love interests and complications are made clear early on. Part of the fun is being drawn into the relationship side story and rooting for the characters to get together. Perhaps it was because I missed the inciting incidents in the first book, but I just wasn’t drawn into the relationship the way I wanted to be.

And believe me, I wanted to believe it. I really liked Ashburton’s character, the little I got to see of it, and there were a few moments throughout the book where I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the tension to ignite, and then it didn’t. The line wasn’t said and the scene ended before the characters could follow through on the moment.

I had the same criticism with the relationship between Gemma and Jayne. They were so close to being a great Holmes/Watson pair, but it never quite made it there for me. Despite my disappointment, I am not ready to give up the hope that the relationships in this new series could still click.

As is the danger of many mystery books, the story had a number of predictable moments and twists, and there were a few instances where the story bordered on “cookie cutter” fiction. Overall, however, the story was enjoyable, the characters were fun, and the Sherlock Holmes references gave the story a nice frame. I will probably pick up another book in this series before making a final verdict.

I give this book 3 stars.

P.S. Since writing this I found that the first book in the series was already on my wishlist at the library… so that will probably happen at some point

I received a copy of this book from Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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