I'm pleased to welcome Vicki Delaney to the blog today. Vicki pens the new Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series. ELEMENTARY, SHE READ, the first in the series was released March 14th.
Kathy: In ELEMENTARY, SHE READ Gemma Doyle, comes to Cape Cod to manage her Great Uncle Arthur’s Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. Are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes?
VD: Absolutely. I won’t say I’m a devoted fan, and I’m no fanatic, but I have read all the original books. I love the Jeremy Brett Series and the new BBC Sherlock. I also enjoy many of the modern pastiche novels and the numerous short story collections featuring the Great Detective himself or some new incarnation of his skills.
Kathy:Throughout the years there have been many references and adaptations of Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle's detective in movies, television, and books. Do you have a favorite? (While I wouldn't consider his the best portrayal, I am partial to Data's Sherlock and the incarnation of Moriarty in a few episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation.)
VD: My favorite Sherlock is Jeremy Brett and I love Benedict Cumberbatch’s character. Data was defiantly a good one.
Kathy:Do you collect any Sherlock Holmes memorabilia?
Kathy:What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
VD: I love the real-life aspect of cozies. The small town, the close community, the good friends. The food! There’s an optimism to cozies that is a welcome relief from so much of popular culture (and reality) today. The crime will be solved, the guilty brought to justice, friends will be loyal, and true romance might be right around the horizon.
Kathy:Do you write in any other genres?
VD: I’ve written in many different sub-genres. Everything from psychological suspense to modern Gothic thrillers, a police procedural series, historical fiction, and now cozies. I also write novellas for adult literacy.
Kathy:Tell us about your series.
VD: The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series is the newest. The highly perceptive Gemma Doyle owns the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Cape Cod, and her ever-confused friend Jayne Wilson runs Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room.
I also write the Year Round Christmas cozy series from Penguin (WE WISH YOU A MURDEROUS CHRISTMAS), the Lighthouse Library series (under the pen name of Eva Gates) also cozy and also from Penguin (READING UP A STORM). The Constable Molly Smith series from Poisoned Pen Press are a bit on the darker, edgier side (UNREASONABLE DOUBT). In April my third novella featuring Sgt Ray Robertson, an RCMP officer working for the UN, will be out. It’s titled BLOOD AND BELONGING.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
VD: I’ve really enjoyed writing Gemma Doyle, the protagonist in the Sherlock Holmes bookshop series. Gemma is somewhat Sherlockian, reimagined as a modern young woman.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
VD: Sherlock Holmes! And all the books, movies, and TV shows about him.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
VD: ELEMENTARY, SHE READ will be my 24th book. As soon as I had the idea, I knew it would find an audience.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
VD: As it happens, I just did that this weekend! Some of my writer friends were travelling to the Ontario Library Association conference in Toronto, and my place is about half way for them. So they stopped by for dinner and to spend the night. Mary Jane Maffini (AKA Victoria Abbott) Linda Wiken (AKA Ericka Case) and Barbara Fradkin. Another writer who lives nearby popped over for dinner. That was Janet Kellough. We had a great time!
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
VD: I am almost finished JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER by Jodi Taylor. Not a crime novel, but an absolute blast about time travel. Clever and witty and a lot of fun.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
VD: I read a lot and I do jig-saw puzzles, particularly in the winter. In the summer I work in the garden. I don’t have a TV, but I like to watch a bit of Netflix most evenings after dinner. I am quite a good cook, if I do say so myself. I love to bake, but don’t get much of a chance.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
VD: Milk for coffee. Coffee. Ketchup. Eggs.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
VD: The second Sherlock Holmes book is already in production and will be out in September. It’s called BODY ON BAKER STREET. I’m almost finished the third. Here’s hoping there will be many more.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
VD: The people I have met and the friends I have made. By far my favorite thing. I’ve been lucky enough to travel regularly to conference and meet readers and I’ve made many good friends. See above dinner party.
ELEMENTARY, SHE READ by Vicki Delaney
The First Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery
Gemma Doyle manages the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium for her great Uncle Arthur and is part owner of the adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room, run by her friend Jayne. After a bus tour leaves the shop Gemma discovers a magazine among the disarray the crowd left. The magazine is not part of her stock however, and it looks to be an exceedingly rare edition possibly worth a fortune! Gemma uses her keen perception and deductive reasoning to find the woman who left the magazine. With Jayne along, Gemma does find the woman-murdered in a hotel room. Finding herself a prime suspect, Gemma looks to solve the mystery herself, but will her inquiries solve the murder or make her another victim?
Vicki Delaney took a calculated risk with Gemma Doyle. In cozies the protagonist is generally someone readers can relate to, someone we like, someone with whom we'd want to be friends. Yet in Gemma, Delaney created a character quite similar to Sherlock Holmes himself. Someone so observant, so honest, and above most social niceties as to be distant, aloof, and not very likable. While these qualities make for a great detective they don't exactly promote friendship. If readers don't care for the protagonist, will they not care what happens to her? Is there no vested interest? I believe the author's risk paid off, however. While I may not care for Gemma my analytical mind became engrossed in the mystery and the methods Gemma employed to solve it. As the story progressed I also found myself warming up to her a bit and by the end I did care what happened to her.
ELEMENTARY, SHE READ is a finely crafted mystery imbued with the spirit of Sherlock Holmes. You don't have to be a Sherlock fan to enjoy this series, but if you are you'll appreciate it even more!