Gemma Doyle and Jayne Wilson are busy managing the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Baker Street and adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room in anticipation of the store’s upcoming book signing with the illustrious Renalta Van Markoff, author of the controversial Hudson and Holmes mystery series. But during the author Q&A session, dedicated Sherlockian Donald Morris verbally attacks Renalta and her series for disgracing Sherlock’s legacy, only to be publicly humiliated when the author triumphantly lashes back and gains the upper hand. That is until Renalta collapses on the table–dead. Donald insists he didn’t do it and pleads to his friends to clear his name. Fortunately, Gemma and Jayne have no shortage of suspects between author’s bullied personal assistant, her frustrated publicist, the hapless publisher, a handsome rare book dealer, an obsessively rabid fan, and a world of other Sherlock enthusiasts with strong objections to Renalta’s depiction of the Great Detective. It’s up to the shrewd sleuthing duo to eliminate the impossible and deduce the truth before the West London police arrest an innocent man.
*Synopsis and photos courtesy of Goodreads.
*Thank you to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
As someone who was once so hooked on the TV series Sherlock, Body on Baker Street immediately caught my attention. It is my first from this author so I don’t know what to expect. I’ve always enjoyed a good cozy mystery story and I’m so glad this one has been so much fun to read. It is the second book of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery and despite not reading the first book, the story is pretty much easy to follow as it can be very well read as a standalone.
After moving to West London, Massachusetts from England after the divorce with her cheating husband, Gemma Doyle is now a co-owner and manager of a bookstore which primarily sells Sherlock-inspired books and merchandise. Out of nowhere, the famous author of Hudson and Holmes mystery series, Renalta Van Markoff, scheduled at the last minute a book signing event on her shop and Gemma won’t let that opportunity pass given how big the author’s followers are. Even with the late booking, fans and critics alike gathered on the day of the event. Gemma can already tell that the event is a success despite Renalta having a heated argument with Donald, a hardcore Sherlockian who thinks Renalta’s novels are disgracing not only Sherlock’s but also Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legacy. Until Renalta dropped dead in the middle of the signing. Gemma is pretty sure that Renalta was poisoned and Donald was ruled out as the main suspect. But he vehemently denied the accusation and asked for Gemma’s help to look for the real killer. And though Gemma is not a part of the police force, she promised to help Donald prove his innocence with the help of her best friend Jayne. But in spite of Gemma’s great observation skill and attention to details, she was stuck with a handful of suspects and it is just a matter of time before the police lock up an innocent man.
Oh, I love this book! I love the plot, the characters, the setting, the twist, the mystery, the wit. All of it. Gemma is an effective amateur sleuth with her amazing skills in elimination and deduction though sometimes she appear to be conceited and unaware of it as Holmes was. She’s a smart, strong and independent woman which makes her character more appealing. Even the other characters are remarkable. There’s Jayne, Gemma’s best friend and partner, not only in the business but in solving cases as well. She’s the Watson to Gemma’s Sherlock, for sure. Renalta is also intriguing albeit annoying at times. The suspects for her murder are interesting as well and it’s entertaining how Gemma handled them to get to the truth. I just don’t understand how this one female police officer, Detective Estrada, hates Gemma so much that it made her judgment be clouded because of her dislike towards Gemma. And it also made her character really unlikeable.
I love how the setting is so Sherlock-like. The bookstore is in 222 Baker Street in West London and was named The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium that sells a lot of Sherlock-inspired books and merchandise. Beside is Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room managed by Jayne. Gemma owned a cat named Moriarty. It’s heaven to all Sherlockian! The premise is also so interesting and not short of mystery as to who the killer is. And speaking of mystery, it is very well constructed that it made it not so easy to guess whodunnit as I had initially thought. There are strings of suspects and each has a motive for wanting Renalta dead. The author managed to give each suspect a benefit of the doubt and every clues thrown in and secrets revealed will confuse the reader even more. I was way off in my guess the whole time which made the reveal surprising.
I really did have fun reading Body on Baker Street and I’d say it can easily be one of my favorite cozies. It is a well-written, fast-paced, entertaining read that will appeal to cozy mystery lovers out there as well as fans of Sherlock. I sure will look for the first book and will watch out for the third installment.