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A Three Book Problem–deductive reasoning in the style of Holmes

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A Three Book Problem

by Vicki Delany

Jayne and Gemma, recurring characters in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery Series, are invited to a retreat at a local mansion. Jayne, who runs a tearoom, is required to cook for the group, and Gemma, who has a Sherlock Holmes shop, is requested to provide atmospheric props. The focus of the event is to be Arthur Conan Doyle’s works about the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Oddly, it seems the participants do not like the host, know each other, or necessarily have an interest in Sherlock Holmes lore.

There is a murder right in front of the two ladies by an unusual method. Gemma, an expert in deductive reasoning, applies her skills in a Sherlock fashion as she tries to ascertain which one of the invited guests benefited from the death of their host.

As I jumped into the series with the seventh book, I think the character development must have occurred earlier. I could not find much appeal to the recurring characters or to the ones who are clearly only a part of this one book. None are likable. The pace of the book is slow and any exciting action is limited to two scenes. I did not guess the identity of the murderer until the end; the climax was handled well. On the whole, this book is missing a zing that a good mystery should have. Sadly there is nothing that makes me want to go back to read other books in the series.

I have read two cozy mysteries by Vicki Delany in her Tea by the Sea series that I enjoyed very much. Delany has experienced success with her Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery Series, so A Three Book Problem may not work as a standalone or just may not have been the right book for me.

I would like to extend my thanks to Netgalley and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 7th in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery Series. I don’t recommend it as a standalone.

Publication: January 11, 2022—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

It was a beautiful fall day, the rising sun shining through trees ablaze in shades of rusty orange, yellow, and red, leaves crushing underfoot, the air crisp and cool, full of the whisper of winter soon to come.

Humiliation, I’ve found, is one of the most powerful motives for murder there is. More powerful than money.

“Are you going to climb the fence again?” Jayne said. “Absolutely not. I have a rule to seek illegal ingress to a property only once.” “What does that even mean?” “It means that in case I had to return, I learned the code.”


  1. Carla says:

    I’m sorry you didn’t connect to or enjoy this book Linda. I have read them all and Gemma definitely takes time to cozy up to. I always enjoy her deductions and how she figures things out, but haven’t read this one yet, so maybe if doesn’t measure up to the others in the series. Nice review and I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nancy says:

    Thanks for your review. I have not read any of her books so I will start with Tea by the Sea… perhaps!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have read the early books in this series, I stopped reading the series because e-books cost, there were others I wanted to read first. They are my wished list. Your reviews always good to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      Thank you, Betty. I agree on the price of e-books. I don’t know if it is something that has gradually evolved or if it is a result of general inflation. Either way, I have certainly seen a jump in the prices of e-books!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gemma can be a lot. But you chose great lines from the book. It’s always hard to jump in the middle. Perhaps next time will be better

    Liked by 1 person

  5. WendyW says:

    I always worry about jumping into the middle of a series for this reason. But, I still end up doing it too often! Happy Reading

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      I understand. Sometimes we read such positive reviews or publisher blurbs that we can’t resist. In this one instance, I feel I made a mistake. I was surprised because it was so bookish and that appeals to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the honest review Linda, I have read other books by Vicki Delaney, but this series does not appeal after reading your thoughts…i only read the books you rate 5/5!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      That’s a heavy burden, but there are so many books out there we do have to be choosy. I actually do try to choose books that I think I will really like, but they can’t all be 5/5. Also some books that are 5/5 based on the author’s skills, research, etc. may not be books that I really enjoy. I try to make that clear in the review if that is the case. Thank you for your feedback and comments; they are important to me as I consider what makes a good review.

      Liked by 1 person

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