vicki delany

Book Review: A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany

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A Scandal in Scarlet (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery, #4)A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4+ of 5 stars

A Scandal in Scarlet is the 4th book in the ‘A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery’ series by Vicki Delany. I was introduced to this cozy after reading a different series written by the author (Christmas All Year Round) and am very glad I checked it out. Delany is a wonderful writer whose characters, plots, and settings are a prime example of why I love cozy mysteries.

In this book, Gemma notices a fire in a nearby museum while out walking the dog. To help pay for repairs, she and Jayne host the museum’s auction, but one of the members is killed just before it begins. Was it a rival member who didn’t like the poor woman’s success? Her husband or his previous wife and kids? The nasty shop owner Gemma knows? A burglary gone wrong? Lots of angles for the two Sherlock-wannabees to investigate all the while dating a local cop, chef, old friend, and rare book dealer. Then we must not forget running the tea room, fighting with the store owner across the street who just likes to be mean, and taking care of the cat and dog.

All-in-all, the setting is my favorite in this series. While many of the characters are good, it’s reading about many Sherlock Holmes items that keeps me coming back for more. Delany builds the best descriptions into her plot, effortlessly, so you feel transported into the story. I’m even thrilled when it’s a few pages of narrative or description without much action. It’s just that kind of a book to immerse yourself into.

The mystery was good. Not the best she’s written, but full of red herrings and a clear reason why someone was killed. The second murder threw me for a loop, but that’s just icing on the cake for solving the first one, right? :O Looking forward to the next edition!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: The Cat of the Baskervilles Vicki Delany

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The Cat of the Baskervilles (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #3)The Cat of the Baskervilles by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

When an opportunity to win a free ARC of the 4th book in Vicki Delany’s ‘A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery’ series was offered up earlier in the week, I got my derriere in gear and ordered the 3rd book, the Cat of the Baskervilles, so I could get current. It was an unplanned read for this month but one I’m glad I found time to squeeze in. Let’s hope I win the chance to get an early ARC of the next book.

Delany’s a wonderful writer with a great balance of humor, levity, sincerity, mystery, trickery, and suspense. In this caper, Gemma wants to protect her friend Jayne’s mother, Leslie, who’s potentially guilty of murdering an actor she once knew. One of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock plays is coming to West London (US, not UK), and there’s a stop at Gemma’s Sherlockian bookshop. Unfortunately, during a tea party before the play opens, the lead actor is found at the bottom of a cliff. Suicide? Accidental from being drunk? Or murder? Gemma of course needs to investigate. Detective Ryan wants her to stay away. His partner wants to kill Gemma… perhaps a future plot, Ms. Delany? LOL

I really enjoy the relationships and side stories in this series. Between the always off-and-gallivanting Uncle Arthur (yes, named after the author), the nasty but lovable feline Moriarty (so aptly named), and the shenanigans in the love lives and interfering neighbors to Gemma and Jayne’s stores, it’s always a great read. This book is a traditional cozy, but at about the 85% mark, the case is closed in a way I wouldn’t expect. Surely, it couldn’t be all fluff for the last few chapters… I knew there was a twist coming, and then BAM, it’s dropped. Kudos to Delany for the nice fun surprise. Is it time for my ARC of #4 to arrive yet? Oh please, reading gods…

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Body on Baker Street by Vicki Delany

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Body on Baker Street (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery, #2)Body on Baker Street by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

One of my favorite features of the cozy mystery genre is the ability to weave together multiple themes and story-lines that carry over throughout each successive book in the series. In ‘A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery’ series by Vicki Delany we have just that and so much more. I have read a couple of the author’s series and find myself on a kick to catch up on them all in the next few months so that by 2019, I’m ready for the latest releases. I just finished Body on Baker Street and give it 4.5 stars for its clever plot, witty dialog, and memorable characters.

Gemma and Jayne run a book shop and tea room with an ode to Sherlock Holmes. Gemma’s got an on-again/off-again relationship with a local detective, but it also puts her in conflict with another detective who doesn’t like Gemma very much because of her amateur sleuth activities. It makes for good conflict. In this caper, a famed author holds a signing at the store, but all is not as it seems. The author isn’t truly the author, and her closely-kept staff have bigger connections than we initially realize. The books compromise some characters in the Sherlock Holmes canon which angers a few readers and fans, but it also ignites some passionate ones who love the changes. Which person took their emotions too far and killed the author with a lovely dose of poison?

As characters, Gemma and Jayne are both likable and well-drawn. Jayne is the more reasonable one as Gemma thinks of things like breaking into a policewoman’s desk to find clues. That’s guts! The cat wandering the store makes for fun antics. The literary tones and references always make me smile. I enjoy the side stories and always look forward to the red herring clues. With at least 5 or 6 possible suspects, each has a true motive and were near the tainted water bottle. It makes for a solid mystery where it’s less about alibis and more about who couldn’t help themselves but commit murder.

Delany’s style is always fun and easy to read. It’s got chops, too. I enjoy the story’s developmental progress as it draws us in. I am reading the next book in the series in a few weeks so I’ll be ready for the one she is about to publish – number 4, A Study in Scarlet!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Hark the Herald Angles Slay by Vicki Delany

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Hark the Herald Angels Slay (A Year-Round Christmas Mystery, #3)Hark the Herald Angels Slay by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Merry Wilkinson left NYC about a year ago after a disastrous break-up and returned to her hometown of Rudolph in upstate NY. Rudolph is a town where it’s always Christmas. In this third caper of the ‘A Year-Round Christmas Mystery’ series by Vicki Delany, Merry’s ex-bf comes to tell her he wants her back, but then he ends up strangled to death in her office. Hark the Herald Angels Slay was a really fun read I devoured in about three hours, and it’s earned a solid four stars. I probably should have saved the read for closer to Christmas, but if it’s year-round, and I’m trying to catch up on all the series I love, why would I wait!? LOL

Delany always delivers whether it’s humor or characters standing out, fantastic settings or overall mystery, I am embroiled in her cozy plots. This one offered lots of suspects when the entire magazine crew where Merry used to work tags along with her ex-bf as part of a spotlight on Rudolph. There were also a few surprising connections to other folks who lived in Rudolph to the magazine which made for great red herrings and potential danger.

I like that it’s told in first-person because we can feel a stronger connection to Merry. Her parents are fun and quirky. The store / shop setting is very fun to have people in and out as good side stories that move the plot along and offer interesting moments where as readers we wonder ‘how might this connect to the story?’

I’m moving on next to another of Delany’s series about Sherlock Holmes bookshop!!!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Review: Elementary, She Read

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Elementary, She ReadMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Vicki Delany‘s Elementary, She Read, the first in a new “Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery” series. I’ve read a few other books by this author, jumping at the chance to read this new series, as I really enjoy her ability to immerse you in the setting of a quaint and charming little town full of memorable characters. And it did not disappoint.


Story

Gemma is a transplant from England, now residing in West London on Cape Cod in Massachusetts as part-owner of her uncle’s Sherlock Holmes bookshop and new friend’s traditional tea shop. When a busload of mystery loving grannies invade their stores, and a rare edition of a magazine turns up hiding on the bookshelves, Gemma knows something is not right. She tracks down one of the women, but finds her murdered in her hotel room. The police suspect Gemma, as her story of “Good Samaritan to return the magazine” cannot possibly be true. When she learns the woman was serving as a nurse in a very rich family of known Sherlock Holmes book collectors, the story gets even more puzzling. But it’s when another death puts her back in the spotlight that Gemma begins to worry she may be put in jail for a crime she had nothing to do with. Using her own highly-skilled research and investigation techniques, Gemma solves the case but almost goes down as one of the victims.

Includes a few side stories with her friend Jayne, her former boyfriend the cop and a few interesting neighborhood characters who either love her or hate her! Oh yeah, and her dog and cat who are quite a hoot.


Strengths

I always enjoy the first in a new series… to see how the author introduces characters, builds a setting and invests in the themes and motifs which will guide the future books. Vicky Delany does not disappoint, as this one looks to be as strong as the “Year Round Christmas” series. Delany has a knack for creating vivid and personable characters. Sometimes you don’t really care for the character, but not because the character is poorly written — it’s always because she packs a punch in finding ways for you to hate people and love them at the same time. That’s how I felt about the new detective who showed up to crack the case. The woman must have a soft spot somewhere, but Gemma can’t find it. And I wanted to slap the cop on many occasions for her rude behavior. Good writing makes you feel that about someone in a story.

Sherlock Holmes has been done before. But this is done in a lighthearted way, such that it’s not over-the-top, rarely boring and usually well-integrated. You learn a little about Doyle, 19th century England and various other historical tidbits all the while enjoying the differences between American and Britain. Plus there are several goofy moments where you can picture the scene happening at some point in your own life. Might even make you want to become a Sherlock-follower yourself!


Suggestions

The book was consistent, just like all of the rest of Delany’s novels that I’ve read before. It’s a good read, full of great characters, but… I want to see Delany push it a little further next time and have a very complex mystery with more players about the town. Introduce more families, show more connections, bring a bit more of England to Massachusetts… Transport us somewhere different where we want to find ourselves lost in. We’re right on the cusp, and I’m betting book two in this series will do it.


Final Thoughts

Good plot. Fun characters. Clever writing. Everything you need in a basic murder mystery with a splash of something new and exciting. A definite read for fans of the author and genre, and a good intro to the cozy for those not ever having the pleasure of encountering one before. Plus… who doesn’t love a book about famous authors and detectives?

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Review: We Wish You a Murderous Christmas

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We Wish You a Murderous Christmas
We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4+ stars to Vicki Delany‘s We Wish You a Murderous Christmas, her second novel in the “Year-Round Christmas Mystery” cozy series. Whether it’s Christmastime or not, you need to unwrap this gift and dive into the great fun packaged into this holiday treat.


Story

Rudolph, New York, also known as America’s Christmas Town, is home to the famous Yuletide Inn which has been a staple of this adorable village for years. When one of the owners has a heart attack, his son Gord moves back home to help take care of his father and the Inn until he recuperates. Unfortunately, Gord hasn’t changed since he was a kid growing up in Rudolph and still has a ruthless, money-hungry attitude which leads to one of his enemies stabbing him with a knife from the Yuletide Inn. Gord was secretly looking for ways to cut costs and make the Yuletide appear even more profitable for a potential buyer.

Merry Wilkinson, daughter of Rudolph’s previous mayor, also moved home recently but she came back full of Christmas spirit hoping to help revive the town and grow their tourist industry. When her father (also known as the town’s Santa Claus) is suspected of murdering Gord in support of his long-time friend who had a heart attack, Merry is on the case. She conducts her own “off the books” investigation working closely with her friends and family to try to uncover as much about Gord’s life back in California before he moved home to Rudolph.

With a cast of at least 6 to 8 suspects, including a rival town that hopes to sink Rudolph so they can be the tourist capital of upstate NY, Merry has her hands full trying to figure out who is telling the truth and who lacks all Christmas spirit. Add a few side stories (blossoming romance with 2 suitors, a hunky new chef who’s lusting after her best friend, a Santa Claus being fired from his job due to being the primary suspect and the on-going battles with the current mayor and a rival shop owner) and you’ve got quite a mystery to solve.

In the end, Merry of course solves the case with her friends and family’s help, but it ends in a risky unexpected confrontation where someone pulls a weapon with intent to harm Merry and her family. She survives, helps the local police capture the criminal and also walks right into the next mystery about to unfold in the third book to launch in this enjoyable series.


Strengths

1. The cast of characters is dynamic and complex. Sometimes an author will create too few characters or cast too wide a net such that you can’t keep track of all the options. Even with 6 to 8 potential suspects in this story, each person is well-described, has distinct motives and pops up throughout the stories in all the right places. It’s easy to keep track of everyone which also makes it very easy to figure out who you like and who you don’t like.

2. Who doesn’t love Christmas? Ok, so if you don’t, then why are you reading this book? Nevertheless… it’s the perfect balance of story and backdrop setting: you can enjoy the story without realizing it’s all about Christmas or you can totally immerse yourself in the drama and mystique of the holiday. The settings and descriptions really add to the story and help you believe in a town that thinks about Christmas all year long. You want to run out now to visit it even though it’s Halloween (OK, it is for me when I just read the book)… but you also want to meet the people and see the village store windows.

3. The story is complex. It winds around in all the right places. And it drops tons of red herrings not only in this book, but back in book 1. (If you haven’t read book 1 in this series, you MUST read that one first and then read this one – you’ll enjoy it even more knowing what you missed previously).


Suggestions

1. The character of Jackie… I’m a little uncertain of how I feel about her. In the first book, I liked her even when she occasionally rubbed me the wrong way in how she treated Merry, her boss. I blamed it on her boyfriend’s (Kyle) influence; however, in this book, Jackie supported Kyle too much over the whole replacement Santa storyline. I am not sure if I’m supposed to like her or dislike her – and I’d like to figure that out sooner rather than later. Perhaps she’s being saved for a future book, which would be fine – but I’d like to see a different balance here — either good or bad. There are already a few other women who are part love / part hate (Betty, Sue-Anne, etc.)

2. I want more of Merry’s siblings! We hear about the three of them but never see them. Get them to Rudolph soon please…..


Final Thoughts

As far as cozies go, this one is very good. You can immerse yourself in the entire book and really feel as if you are part of the story and the setting. If I had to pick a cozy series that would help get more readers to the genre, this could be an option. Readers would have to be good with a “Christmas” theme, but as far as characters, plot, setting, romance, fun, et al, this is at the top. If you read book 1 and were on the fence, you must check out book 2. If you haven’t read this series, start with book 1 (Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen) and then read this one. It’ll take a few hours for each book and it’s well worth it.

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Review: Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen

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Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3 1/2 stars (rounded up to a 4) to Vicki Delany‘s Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen, her debut novel in the “A Year-Round Christmas Mystery” series. Some people love Christmas so much that they need an entire book series dedicated to it; and if you’re one of those people, you’ll enjoy this one even if you’re reading it at Halloween!


Story

Rudolph, New York, a small town on the southern shores of Lake Ontario near the Canadian border, was named for someone who turned out to be not-so-name-worthy in the end. The town mayor, Noel Wilkinson, suggests telling everyone it was named after the famous reindeer and thus, Christmastown is born — except, there are a few of these towns across the country and the neighboring towns aren’t always thrilled when their town is suddenly considered second rate. When a semi-famous writer stops in Rudolph to publish a piece in a widely-read magazine about all the wonders of the Christmas village, he quickly sets the town a buzz… but when he turns up dead after eating at a local restaurant, Rudolph gets a bad reputation. Was it a neighboring town hoping to steal the glory? Was it a current resident with a unknown grudge? Or was it a personal vendetta from some outsider that just happened to occur in Rudolph?

Merry Wilkinson and her family and friends of Christmas-loving lore are on the case so they can protect their income and their town from utter disaster. Along the way, we meet her opera-loving mother, Santa Clause double dad, best friend who is accused of the murder, two eligible bachelors for Merry to choose from, a former frenemy police officer, the newly transported Chicago detective, a quirky mayor, a bitter neighboring store owner, a rival-politician and the fun-loving staff of Merry’s high-end Christmas decor shop. With a few side-stories about each of the main character’s personal lives, a new series all about the wonderful world of Christmas is born. In the end, Merry solves the case and makes friends with the police so she’s ready to solve another one in the future.


Strengths

For a debut novel, it gives a really well-rounded summary of the town and characters. For readers new to the cozy mystery genre, it will be the perfect intro. Characters and setting are clear and vivid. Multiple suspects for the whodunit. Several backstories dropped with different angles to continue on in the future. And if you’re a fan of holidays, this one will make you smile. I was slightly worred that the Christmas theme could be annoying (I love Christmas but an entire book series?); however, Delany offers a good balance of story and setting so you can tune out or in as much of the descriptions as you want.


Suggestions

There are a few holes in the story or pieces of the plot that should have been more tightly addressed. Merry doesn’t quite seem like someone who would give up her life in NYC and come back home just because of a situation with her boyfriend and job. I would have expected her to try to find other jobs in NYC but this whole area is covered a bit too quickly. When she does come back home, it seems like everyone just forgets she left Rudolph and everything picks back up again. I understand small town atmosphere, but I think a little more focus could have been added here.


Final Thoughts

There are a lot of mystery fiction books and authors to choose from, and once you settle into the cozy sub-genre, you still have a lot that could spark your interest. This one has a very clear theme that will either hook the audience or it will not. If you are a fan of holidays or Christmas or anything that comes with it, then you’ve got a good series to get started with. The author has just published the second in the series and I will be reading it later this week. Definitely worth continuining on…

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