If Gemma Doyle hadn't been walking her dog late at night, the West London Museum might have burned to the ground. Thankfully, no one is inside, but damage to the museum's historic house and priceless collection of furniture is extensive. Local business owners come together to hold an afternoon auction to raise funds to rebuild, and Gemma's Great Uncle Arthur donates a first edition of The Valley of Fear.
Everyone has crowded into Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room for the auction, but it never takes place. Museum board chair Kathy Lamb is found dead in the back room, and the search is on for her killer. The suspect list is long and even though Gemma has no intentions of getting involved in the investigation, one of the suspects asks for her help. Gemma's boyfriend, Detective Ryan Ashburton, isn't happy about it, but Gemma's powers of deduction are going to prove invaluable in solving the murder.
It's the busy tourist season in this fourth book in the delightful Sherlock Holmes Bookshop cozy series, and I really think Gemma should give her assistant Ashleigh a raise. As soon as Ashleigh turns up for her shifts, Gemma is out the door on her investigations, leaving Ashleigh up to her eyebrows in customers. Yes, the young woman definitely deserves a raise, but since I enjoy Gemma's sleuthing so much, I really don't want her to spend all her time in the bookshop either!
One of the bonuses readers get in A Scandal in Scarlet (and the other books in the series) are wonderful recommendations for other books to read. You can't go wrong by following Gemma's suggestions-- and I have to admit that Delany's descriptions of the series' Cape Cod setting make me want to start packing and head east for a long visit.
As always, the author provides a well-paced, solid mystery with plenty of misdirection to keep readers guessing. Actually, there are two mysteries to solve, and I was totally wrong about the solution to the seven-year-old crime. (Love it when that happens!) The cast of characters is strong, too. Eagle-eyed Gemma is just prickly enough to keep readers amused without annoying them too much, and Jayne is the sidekick every amateur sleuth needs. She will follow Gemma anywhere because-- as Jayne says-- "Someone's got to keep you out of trouble." And-- hopefully-- Vicki Delany will keep us supplied with tales of Gemma's investigations for a good long time to come.
A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany
Crooked Lane Books © 2018
eBook, 320 pages
Cozy Mystery, #4 Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery
Source: Net Galley