A Wicked Welcome to Vicki Delany!

By Julie, moving through February

I’m delighted to welcome the prolific Vicki Delany back to the blog today!

Sherlock Holmes and Me

There is, as we are always being told in creative writing classes, no such thing as a new idea.

It’s all been done before. Take the story of an orphaned boy: a lowly (and lonely) childhood; a hidden, ever-watchful guardian; dangerous times; an eternal enemy; the big reveal of the boy’s true identity; then, armed with knowledge of his destiny, boy saves world.

It’s been written a hundred times, from the tales of King Arthur to Star Wars to Harry Potter.  (Why it’s always a boy, is a post for another day.)

The trick is not to come up with an original idea, because you probably can’t, but to make it your own.

Enter Sherlock Holmes. I don’t have to tell you how popular Sherlock is right now, from movies to TV to more books than you can count. Colouring books, puzzles, mugs.  Old books reissued and re-illustrated, new ones being written.

Favourite characters reimagined.

Make it your own, they say.

And so I created Gemma Doyle and the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium.

I’m a cozy writer and I’m also a keen mystery reader. When I was looking for inspiration for a new series, I thought a bookstore would be fun.  The idea popped into my head: A bookstore dedicated to all things Sherlock Holmes.

When I started to do some research on that, I quickly discovered it’s not such an unfeasible idea.  You could easily stock a store with nothing but Sherlock.  Not only things I mentioned above but all the stuff that goes with it: playing card sets, tea towels, games, puzzles, action figures, cardboard cut-out figures. The list is just about endless. Throw in all the modern pastiche novels, nonfiction works on Sir Arthur and his contemporaries, maybe a few books set in the “gaslight” era. And, presto, a fully operational bookstore. What would a bookstore be without a cat?  In this case, one Moriarty, who has a strange antipathy to Gemma.

I’ve enjoyed stocking my bookstore, and as befits a book about a bookshop, I drop a lot of names of real books.  Many I have read, some I haven’t, but I enjoy fitting the book to the imaginary character buying it.

Because cozy lovers (and me) love food to go with their reading, I put Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room next door, run by Gemma’s best friend Jayne Wilson.

My original intent was that the main character would be a normal cozy character. A nice young woman who owns an interesting bookshop, lives in a pleasant community (in this case, on Cape Cod), and has a circle of friends.

But, by the time I got to page two, Gemma Doyle had become “Sherlock”.

And that’s been enormous fun to write. Gemma has an amazing memory (for things she wants to remember), incredible observational skills, and a lightning fast mind. She is also, shall we say, somewhat lacking on occasion in the finer points of social skills. Jayne is ever-confused, but always loyal.

Like any modern Sherlock, such as Benedict Cumberbatch’s interpretation, Gemma deciphers cell phone signals and finds clues on the Internet. Like any Sherlock, her relationship with the local police is complicated, but in her case it’s because she’s in love with Ryan Ashburton, the town’s lead detective, and he with her, but the relationship is difficult because it’s hard to be with a woman who seems to be able to read your mind. Detective Louise Estrada (Estrada/Lestrade. Get it?) doesn’t trust her one bit.

But Gemma Doyle investigates nonetheless, because:

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

But Gemma Doyle, in the manner of Sherlock Holmes, observes.

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, reimagined as modern young women just trying to get on with life. And solve mysteries.

The newest Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery is now available. In THE GAME IS A FOOTNOTE Gemma and Jayne are invited to spend the night in a historical re-enactment museum, which some say is haunted.  The skeptical Gemma agrees, if only to prove that “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”  Instead, nothing is eliminated and  Gemma is forced to consider that perhaps something beyond her powers of deduction is at work. 

Wicked readers: Are you a Sherlock Holmes fan?  If so, who’s your favourite on-screen adaption?  I’ll go first: No one beats the incredible Jeremy Brett. Not a fan?  Tell us that too.

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S.  Author of more than fifty books, she is currently writing the Tea by the Sea mysteries, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, the Year-Round Christmas mysteries, and the Lighthouse Library series (as Eva Gates). Vicki is the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario. 

Follow Vicki at www.vickidelany.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/evagatesauthor. You can sign up to receive Vicki’s quarterly newsletter at Vicki Delany – Canadian Author of Mystery Novels and Suspense Novels » Contact

35 Thoughts

    1. Quality varies for sure. My favourite Sherlock Movie is MURDER BY DECREE with Christopher Plummer. If you ever run across it, I suggest you try it.

  1. Welcome back to the blog, Vicki! I love the premise of this series. I should send Mac Almeida up Cape to your store to pick up some cozies for her book group.

    I don’t have an opinion on film Sherlock’s, but I was an early fan, reading all the collected stories at age nine or ten. (And then getting nightmares, but that’s another story.)

  2. Vicki, congrats on the new Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery. I have my copy and I’m looking forward to sitting down and reading it. I love the series.

    I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan, both of the original stories and the various original stories being published nowadays that write new adventures or pay homage to The Great Detective. In fact, I just picked up a book called Holmes Coming by Kenneth Johnson that puts Sherlock in modern day San Francisco.

    My favorite Sherlock portrayer, like you, is Jeremy Brett. I also loved Jonny Lee Miller on ‘Elementary’.

    My local library’s Mystery Book Club might be picking The Hound of the Baskervilles for an upcoming month and possibly showing the Basil Rathbone version of the movie to coincide with our monthly meeting as well.

    1. There is so much new stuff being written today it was easy to stock my fictional bookstore.

  3. Yes, Jeremy Brett was a perfect Sherlock! I also like Benedict Cumberbatch but I just couldn’t take Robert Downey, Jr. seriously. We need lots of real-life Sherlocks in the world today!

    1. Three cheers on your latest release, Vicki! I’m a Hors fan, but must confess I don’t have a favorite screen adaptation. There are too many to choose from!

  4. Can’t wait for the opportunity to read “THE GAME IS A FOOTNOTE”. As with all your books, I know I’m going to love it even before I read the first page. Great cover!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. Love this concept! Yes, big Holmes fan. One of my proudest moments was the day I bought the collected works. Talk about a binge read! My favorite Holmes? Enola Holmes. She’s a delight.

  6. Congrats, Vicki. What an interesting concept.

    Yes, to being a Sherlock fan. Like you, Jeremy Brett is my gold standard, although I enjoyed the Benedict Cumberbatch version (except that very puzzling last season left me a little cold). I have really enjoyed the Enola Holmes movies as well.

    1. I agree about the last Season of Sherlock. They tried to be too clever and failed. .

  7. What a cool concept you have! I dig all the new Holmes homages, but I also enjoy different interpretations of Shakespeare, too.

    I like Benedict’s modern day portrayal, Robert Downey Jr’s interpretation of Victorian sophistication and fisticuffs, and Jonnie Lee Miller’s British expat in recovery in NYC on TV’s “Elementary.”

    As for the latter, I also admit I coveted Dr. Joan Watson’s outfits.

  8. I do love your series and can’t wait to dive into the latest!

    Sherlock Holmes is my passion and I have quite a library of fiction and non-fiction devoted to him. I’m partial to the original HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band,’ and James Lovegrove’s Holmes novels. And of course…Jeremy Brett’s my favorite Holmes!

  9. Welcome, Vicki!!!! Your absolutely FUN-tastic cozy mystery series are all exciting, full of intriguing plots and excellent brain-teasers :-). I love your Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series is superbly written, and I am already eagerly awaiting the next one…no pressure 🙂 I used to think of Sherlock looking like so many old actors, but when Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed him in recent years, he pops into my mind now… Thank you for so many hours of fun reading. Congratulations on your latest, and on all the future books you will entertain us with. Luis at ole dot travel

  10. I love this series, but as to your question, Basil Rathbone will forever be Sherlock, to me. Jeremy Brett did a a decent job, and I love Cumberbatch. I even enjoyed Robert Downey, Jr.’s escapades as Sherlock, but Rathbone personifies the Great Detective, in my opinion.

  11. I am a died in the wool fan of all things Sherlockian. I am a member of the Bootmakers of Toronto, and have more ACD books and pastiches than I can count. I’m in love with The Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore in Toronto (unfortunately closing because the owners are retiring after 40 years.) And I don’t live anywhere near Toronto; I’m in southern Pennsylvania.

    I love this series and want to visit your Sherlock Holmes Bookshop. Will me calling Aaron’s Bookstore in Lititz to order The Game is Afootnote.

    1. Have we ever met Ginny? I was at the September conference at the Toronto Public Library, and i’ll be speaking in person and on Zoom to the Bootmakers in April.

      1. Oh, how I wish we had met! We were scheduled, had all the reservations, to attend the conference and then my husband got very sick. He survived (barely), but we sure missed going to Toronto. Looking forward to seeing you on Zoom!

  12. Oh, I forget to mention, I have all the older Sherlock Holmes movies and TV and radio series. Nobody, but nobody, is Sherlock Holmes except Basil Rathbone.

  13. I really should read more Holmes and maybe watch a few movies. For a mystery reader, I am woefully unknowledgeable about the character.

  14. Yes, I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes! I read most of Doyle’s books many years ago and was fascinated by his logic and reasonings. Believe it or not, I have not seen any of the Sherlock Holmes movies. Once I saw a brief part of one of the movies and was disappointed in the way in which the characters were portrayed, so I gave up and did not watch the movie. However, I was delighted to discover Vicky Delaney’s Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series! I cannot get enough of the series, and I have read them all except for the latest one that has just come out. If anyone has not yet begun to read the series, please, PLEASE start with the first book and read them all in order! You will love the character development!

  15. Welcome to the Wickeds, Vicki! I do love Sherlock, both in print and on the screen. I am very happy with the modern versions, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Downey, though in the modern versions I am a particular fan of the Watsons.

  16. I love this series. Gemma Doyle is a hoot, I can’t wait to read it. Oh, and my favorite Sherlock is Benedict.

  17. Jeremy Brett is absolutely my favorite Sherlock. I used to watch it all the time, I think it was on PBS.

  18. I do not recall every seeing a Sherlock Holmes show. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  19. I’m a big fan! My favorite is Benedict Cumberbatch, just love that show. Last fall I got to see A Sherlock Carol off Broadway, it’s a mashup of Sherlock Holmes and A Christmas Carol and a real delight. If you’re in the NYC area in the fall, you should see it.

  20. Definitely Jeremy Brett. I really liked Benedict Cumberbatch in the first two seasons of that version, but not after that.

  21. I have a great fondness for “The Secret Garden” simply because the hero is a girl. Every other book of that era was/is a boy.

Comments are closed.