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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 in Body on Baker Street, the second Sherlock Homes Bookshop mystery perfect for fans of Miranda James and Kate Carlisle.
Creating a Whole New Town
By Vicki Delany
Some books are set in real places. My Lighthouse Library series written under the penname of Eva Gates is set not just in a real town, but in a specific, real-life building. The Bodie Island Lighthouse near Nags Head, North Carolina. You can visit it yourself, have a look around, go inside the lighthouse, even climb the spiral iron staircase 200 steps to the top. It’s all real.
Except it doesn’t contain a library, offices, meeting rooms, and certainly not an apartment on the 4th floor. Those I added myself.
But sometimes a real place won’t do, and then the imagination comes in. For the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, I needed a street called Baker Street, and a town with a name that relates to London or to England. I wanted it to be in New England, and I wanted a tourist destination, which is always convenient for providing a steady stream of victims and suspects.
So I created West London, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, and named the main shopping street Baker Street. At 222 Baker Street, I put the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, and next door at number 220, I opened Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room.
I put my town on a peninsula with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Nantucket Sound on the other, to make it a popular tourist spot and to provide the books with lots of atmosphere.
Now that I had my store, I had to stock it. Books mostly, Conan Doyle originals, modern pastiche novels, non-fiction to do with Conan Doyle and his life and times and contemporaries, a gaslight shelf full of mysteries set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. And merchandise of course, anything and everything to do with the Great Detective and his imitators, from posters and DVDs to tea cups and sewing thimbles. Next door at Mrs. Hudson’s they got busy making scones, sandwiches, and small pastries and serving afternoon tea.
Now that I had my town and my shops, it was time to populate it. Gemma Doyle is a thirty-something Englishwoman, come to Cape Cod to manage her great uncle’s store. She is smart, highly perceptive, has a great memory (for things she wants to remember) and is occasionally lacking in some of the social graces. Her best friend Jayne Wilson owns and operates the tea room. As Gemma pokes her nose in murder cases, Jayne is always loyal but often confused. We have not one, but two, handsome men. Rare book dealer Grant Thompson and Detective Ryan Ashburton. Ryan and Gemma were once in a relationship, but he found it hard to be with a woman who always seemed to know what he was thinking. More cops, dedicated Sherlockians, an intrepid newspaper reporter, fellow shop-owners, and Great Uncle Arthur who never seems to be at home, round out the cast.
The joy of writing cozies, I have found, is the pure fun in it. I’ve had great fun creating the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium and the people of West London, and I hope you enjoy reading about their adventures.
About the Author
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than twenty-five books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. Under the name of Eva Gates, she writes the Lighthouse Library cozy series for Penguin Random House. Her latest book is Body on Baker Street, the second in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series from Crooked Lane.
Vicki is the past president of the Crime Writers of Canada. Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, the Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards.