Today, I’m happy to bring you a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours tour for Body on Baker Street by Vicki Delany. We’ll start off with a guest post from Ms. Delany and then my review and purchase links will be after that.
Creating a Whole New Town
By Vicki Delany
Some books are set in real places. My Lighthouse Library series written under the pen name 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.
Thank you, Ms. Delany for providing a guest post for my blog today! It was interesting reading about your thought processes behind creating the town.
Body on Baker Street is the second book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series. While it’s definitely possible to read this as a stand-alone book, I highly recommend reading the first book, Elementary, She Read as it’s a great start to the series!
I enjoyed this latest installment of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series.
Gemma is a fascinating, yet sometimes annoying character, much like Sherlock Holmes himself. She’s well-rounded and complex, but sometimes her mannerisms are just a little too over the top for me. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but there’s a particular spot in this book that I wanted to give Gemma a “Gibbs-slap” (from NCIS for you non-tv watchers) to the back of the head to try to get her common sense going again before she attempted something totally idiotic!
I love the side characters too. Jayne and Ryan are wonderful. I’m liking Ashleigh more and more as each book goes on. I even like Louise more and more as the series goes on.
The setting descriptions are always well-done. I feel like there’s enough for us to be able to imagine the setting in our mind, but not so much that we’re overwhelmed as readers. That’s a hard balance to find, but I think Ms. Delany does it well in this book.
The plot moves along well. I had no idea who the villain was until he/she was revealed. As Gemma explained her logic behind her deduction, I could see the way the clues lined up, but the villain definitely wasn’t on my radar before that.
All in all, it was a good book. It didn’t have that pizzazz that I look for in a 5-star book and Gemma’s stupidity in some things caused me to give it a 4, but I still recommend it to cozy mystery lovers!
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