Sherlock Holmes is reinvented as a curious bookshop owner.
British-born Gemma Doyle and her wealthy great-uncle Arthur share a home on Cape Cod, where Gemma is the owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop. Jayne Wilson, her best friend and sometime sidekick in crime solving, is a partner in Mrs. Hudson’s Tearoom. While walking her dog, Gemma spots a fire at Scarlet House, a historic dwelling built in 1648, and calls 911. Her good deed involves her in yet another murder (The Cat of the Baskervilles, 2018, etc.), much to the dismay of Detective Ryan Ashburton, whose on-again, off-again relationship with her is definitely on. After Gemma and Jayne agree to host an invitation-only auction at the tearoom to raise money for the expensive repairs needed to Scarlet House, all goes swimmingly until Kathy Lamb, chair of the Scarlet House board, is found strangled among the valuable items donated for the auction and kept in the storage room at the back of Mrs. Hudson's. The storeroom's outside door is unlocked, but the murder weapon, a pink rope strung with miniature teacups that was being used as decoration for the auction, suggests that the killer may well be among the bidders. Gemma channels her inner Sherlock by casually chatting with the suspects and examining the physical clues. Kathy was not totally welcome as the new chair. Many thought she was using the position to help her get over a nasty divorce and a contentious relationship with her ex’s wealthy wife, Elizabeth Dumont, whose first husband died under suspicious circumstances. Those casual chats turn up a lot of information about past and present animosities that eventually lead to another murder for the brainy Brit to solve.
Each new entry in this series has been better than the last. Delany’s down-to-earth heroine wraps up this investigation with even more than her customary panache.