Cover Image: A Three Book Problem

A Three Book Problem

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Dollycas’s Thoughts

David Masterson is a prominent Sherlockian and a wealthy philanthropist and a frequent customer of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. He has decided to invite some friends and other Sherlockians for an English country house weekend at the Suffolk Gardens House. He has hired Gemma and Jayne to cater the event and use items from the Emporium to stage the house with all things Sherlock-related. They have also enticed Detective Ryan Ashburton, Gemma’s boyfriend to join them to help with preparing and serving the food.

David’s “friends” are not what Gemma, Jayne, and Ryan were expecting.  Some appear to know nothing about Sherlock Holmes or act like they are not really happy to be there. Most seem to have ulterior motives for attending the weekend.

While meeting with Jayne and Gemma in the library a poison dart flies through the window screen and penetrated David’s neck and he quickly dies. With the good detective on the premises, the investigation quickly starts but it also puts Gemma and Jayne right in the thick of things. They know the killer has to be a guest of David’s and they aren’t going to miss their chance to question each of them.

Will they be able to throw the book at the guilty party or will the killer book it out of the Suffolk Gardens House and get away with murder?

This is one of my favorite cozy series!

Vicky Delany is a master storyteller. She has created such strong characters that continue to grow and evolve in each book. Gemma and Jayne have such a strong relationship and work together so well. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and even those out. Gemma’s observation skills are extraordinary and Jayne is the sounding board to help the clues fall into place. I am so happy to see Ryan and Gemma’s relationship going so well. He does value her talents even though he would like her to leave the investigating to him and his partner Louise. He is a smart man though and is just happy that Gemma shares her findings and theories with him sometimes with Louise simmering in the background.

The secondary characters were very interesting. As more of the victim’s life/lifestyle was uncovered it was clear to see everyone with the exception of Gemma, Jayne, and Ryan could have had a reason to kill the man. It was like I had a virtual Rolodex as I tried to keep track of all the information provided, shuffling the cards several times moving different people to the top of my personal suspect list. I was still shuffling right up until all was revealed.

The Suffolk Gardens House was a great setting for this basically closed-room mystery although it is an isolated big house with several rooms. The property had been on the market for some time but from the house to the garden it had not been maintained well. The author’s descriptions brought the place to life for me. It also made me imagine what a gem it could be had it been built and maintained better. The garden if taken care of could be amazing.

A Three Book Problem was a splendid who-dun-it with engaging characters full of twists and turns. You truly can’t go wrong with any book written by Vicki Delany. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery. The Game is a Footnote hits store shelves on January 10, 2023.
Was this review helpful?
A Three Book Problem works for all cozy mystery fans, whether they’ve read the first six books in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series or not.
Tea shop owner Jayne Watson was hired to prepare all of the meals for a Sherlock Holmes-themed weekend at the Suffolk Garden House, and she enlisted friends Gemma Doyle and Gemma's boyfriend Ryan Ashburton to assist her during the weekend. When Gemma’s great-uncle Arthur is unable to attend, Gemma takes his place in the weekend’s events. In her dual role as guest and kitchen assistant, Gemma has unique access to the mansion and its inhabitants.
Host David Masterson allegedly selected his guests because of their interest in Sherlock Holmes. The houseguests are an unsettling group, some of which have questionable interest in Sherlock Holmes. Not surprisingly, money is a common pull, and the guests and helpers want to stay close to David to stay close to the money. 
One mansion dweller who wants to get closer to the money murders David with a dart. Gemma is immediately cleared from suspicion, so she is able to gather information for Ryan, who has to leave the mansion and put on his police hat to bring the killer to justice. Will Gemma uncover the guests’ secrets and solve the case, or will this be one time when the killer gets away with the crime? 
Fans of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series will appreciate that the latest book is as fun and fresh as its predecessors, with the right Holmesian touches tying it to Delany’s series. It’s enjoyable catching up with Gemma, Jayne, and Ryan. They’re familiar, but they’re still interesting and developing.

But all cozy mystery fans rejoice, because those new to the series will enjoy the book as well. It is an entertaining standalone book that provides a complete story that gives new readers everything they need to enjoy it. As someone who joined the series in the middle, I must warn you that you will want to read those earlier books. The setting, characterization, and characters are so enjoyable that it would be difficult to stop reading the series after just one book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing a review copy of the book.
Was this review helpful?
I’ve read a lot of the books in this series now! This is similar to some others in the series- it’s enjoyable and relaxing to read. It’s fun to hangout with the gang again of Gemma and Jayne. A good cozy mystery
Was this review helpful?
Gemma is a tough character to like.  Having read the previous books in this series, she has grown on me. The book was set almost entirely at a nearby country house.  The pace of the book was a bit slow, but the mystery kept me guessing until the end.  I look forward to the next installment.
Was this review helpful?
Vicki Delany’s Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series reaches its seventh installment with A Three Book Problem and it’s still going as strong as ever. Best friends Gemma Doyle and Jane Watson have a great dynamic as well as an uncanny ability to solve the most perplexing of mysteries, and Gemma’s love interest Detective Ryan Ashburton does his bit too. 

This time around, Gemma has agreed to help Jane cater for a swanky weekend house party at Suffolk Gardens House, an event that happens to have a Sherlock Holmes theme. The party is being hosted by David Masterson, a mega rich Sherlockian who happens to be an online acquaintance of Gemma and Jane’s friend Donald, for an eclectic group of guests who don’t seem like they would have wanted to spend time together if they had a choice. 

To her distinct lack of surprise, Gemma discovers that she is neither a natural hostess nor a good commis chef; however, the weekend quickly becomes more to her taste in the most unfortunate of manners when Masterson is murdered with a poisoned dart. With the possible suspects comprising the closed circle of party guests, Gemma determines to track down the killer before the police get a chance to do so.

A Three Book Problem is an action-packed and amusing cosy mystery that is perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes. The central mystery is nicely perplexing and the cast of characters generally engaging. It’s a whole lot of fun to solve the murder mystery alongside Gemma and Jane.
Was this review helpful?
I can’t believe that this series is already on Book 7! I’m still not bored of the characters or the situations they find themselves in – author Vicki Delany always seems to be able to keep things fresh. I love that Sherlock Holmes and his stories take a more centre stage in this book – I mean, yes, Gemma runs the Sherlock Holmes bookshop, but this time she and Jayne are working at a book club dedicated to discussing the Holmes canon so I got to indulge my love of the Great Detective even more than usual.

Gemma Doyle is a great amateur detective and consistently is one of my favourite cozy mystery protagonists. She is intelligent and observant, without being too annoying about it and she has a healthy dose of cynism and caution that serves her well. Once in a while she’ll do something impulsive (or, all the time, if you ask Officer Estrada) but most of the time she stays pretty level-headed. Her bluntness and lack of tact may be annoying to some, but I find it hilarious. Her shop, The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium always sounds like a great place to spend an afternoon.

I also like how many of the supporting characters have developed through this series, including Gemma’s boyfriend, Ryan, and Gemma’s best friend and business partner, Jayne. Plus, no adventure would be complete with a mention of Gemma’s Uncle Arthur, who is often globe-trotting for the most trivial reasons.

The books in this series are always light in tone, descriptive and quick-paced and A Three Book Problem is no exception. I think one of the ways that Delany keeps things fresh with this series is by putting her characters in new settings. While the characters are familiar to the reader, the new setting puts a new perspective on things and makes it all feel slightly new. This time, Gemma and Jayne spend most of the book at Suffolk Garden House, a large ‘country house’ that would be the perfect setting for any Agatha Christie mystery.

And while there is murder afoot, this book isn’t overly-serious, as befits a cozy mystery. Instead, there are some humourous moments and the dialogue never gets bogged down. You get enough information so that you can definitely read this book as a standalone, but as with all long-running series, there’s a more recognition and familiarity if you’ve read more of the series.

As for the murder itself, this is (as always) a spoiler-free zone, so I’ll just say that the murderer was not who I expected. There are some interesting twists and turns to throw the reader off their guard just enough to keep them guessing.

Overall, this was another enjoyable addition to the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series and I’m already looking forward to Gemma’s next adventure.

*** Thank you to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with an e-copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
Vicki Delany had me with the title, #AThreeBookProblem , and the lovely cover, and the book didn't disappoint.
Although I had not read any of the earlier books in the series, Delany is talented at making the book stand alone for those who have no familiarity with the series. The characters are engaging, the bookish mystery is fun and complex, and it all combines into a fun page-turner perfect for summer reading. Thanks to #NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
This book works well as a standalone or as a part of the series. The characters were likable, though the plot's pacing could have been adjusted somewhat to maintain reader interest. Overall, the book was decent, though it wasn't incredibly shocking, nor did it blow me away. 

Thank you for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of this story!
Was this review helpful?
Cozy mystery that I came into my hands at the right time!  It took a while for me to get to read it, but once I was able to sit in my porch swing I read it in a single afternoon.  Cute story.
Was this review helpful?
Princess Fuzzypants here:  Gemma, Ryan and Jayne are all at Suffolk Hall to participate in a Sherlock Holmes event.  There are fellow Holmes aficionados and an assortment of other characters who are in attendance.  The festivities are cut short when the host is murdered with a poison dart.   In an attempt to discover the killer, Gemma and Ryan learn more about the deceased and the facade of a kindly gentile man is dashed as he is revealed to be duplicitous, vindictive and cruel.  All of which means there is no shortage of people who might have wanted to do him ill.  And it appears they are all in the house.

While Ryan does not want Gemma to investigate, he is eager to listen to her observations and the information she has picked up by talking to those involved.  Even his partner begrudgingly seems to appreciate that Gemma has remarkable skill.  Her attention to detail is almost as good as the great detective.

The story is a solid one with lots of twists and turns.  The characters are interesting and the relationships have all evolved during the course of the series.  Four purrs and two paws up.
Was this review helpful?
Bookshop owner Gemma Doyle and teashop owner Jayne Watson are hired to cater a Sherlock Holmes-themed weekend at a large country home, but the homeowner and party thrower is murdered with a poisoned dart. 

This seventh title in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series features the same main cast of characters from previous books, but the story drags a bit and the country house setting is not as interesting as it could be. The plot dragged after the initial action, making this my least favorite book in the series so far. There are no big character developments, so fans of this series can probably skip it without issue.
Was this review helpful?
This is the 7th book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series. Although you can read this book without reading the previous books, you will miss important character development and backstory. Although most books in this series are set in or around the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium and adjacent Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room, A Three Book Problem is set at a country estate, Suffolk Gardens House, for an event for an eccentric Holmes fan and his invited guests. Jane will be cooking, Gemma serving and providing entertainment and Ryan, forgetting he's a policeman for a few days playing sous chef. When the host, wealthy philanthropist and prominent Sherlockian David Masterson is murdered, Ryan must put his police hat back on to solve the case.

This is a closed door mystery, or should I say, closed estate mystery. Who in the group wanted David dead? Who has the most to gain? Everyone there was a suspect, except Gemma, Jane and Ryan. When David's wife arrives there is also a question of whether she might have paid someone to shoot a poisoned dart at her husband. Gemma is a bit of an odd duck. She has excellent observation skills as well as deduction, but she is also socially inept and often offends people with her straight forward, honest manner. She amazes me with all the small things she sees and the nuances she picks up on. There are many suspects with various motives, so it becomes a puzzle to solve, something Gemma is amazing at. Once again Louise Estrada, Ryan's partner is involved, but she seems to be thawing a bit toward Gemma. Donald is one of my favourite characters as he brings the humour to the story with his Sherlock Holmes personna, he is in his glory in this book. I did not guess the culprit at all, and found the mystery itself well-developed and interesting. I liked that Gemma was not in danger during the showdown, but it was still a great conclusion. Overall this was another fun Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery.
Was this review helpful?
My rating: 3 of 5 stars, I quite liked it.

Book 7 in the series.

I quite liked this one, Gemma has grown on me through the last few books, and I liked the setting. My only complaint was I felt the mystery was too simple, as I figured out who the murderer was early on in the book and why.

But it was still a quick, entertaining, read.

I truly hope to see more of Gemma.
Was this review helpful?
⭐⭐⭐

I enjoyed this one, but it didn't blow me away. I enjoyed the setting and the Sherlock Holmes angle. It held up well as a standalone (always a bonus). The characters were likable. I didn't find Gemma to be too annoying. The mystery kept me guessing. I found the romance between her and Ryan a little strange. Normally I don't love a lot of romance stuff in my cozies, but I found it odd that they are a couple (sleeping together) but didn't touch or kiss or anything in front of others. It just struck me as odd. 🤷🏻‍♀️ My other issue was I just found it all a bit dull and long winded. So a bit of a mixed bag, but I enjoyed it enough that I will request the next book in the series and see it is better overall.

<b>SIDE NOTE:</b> This book had formatting issues I found annoying. Missing characters combos "FF, TH, FI..." which made it a chore to read. It is also the 4th or 5th book this year that has had this same issue. I wish NetGalley would figure out what is happening. 🤷🏻‍♀️

**ARC Via NetGalley**
Was this review helpful?
A Three Book Problem is the 7th in the Sherlock Holmes bookshop series and it takes Gemma Doyle and Jayne Watson away from their usual environs of the bookshop and tea room to a Sherlockian English countryside manor.

Gemma and Jayne are catering a weekend event hosted by Sherlockian David Masterson.  David has invited many people to this gathering, but as we soon find out, they all don't really like each other or David Masterson, and several do not appear to be true Sherlockians.  Gemma of course finds this intriguing in itself but nothing is more intriguing than David Masterson's murder right in front of Jane and Gemma by poison dart.   True to form, Gemma uses her considerable skills in observing her surroundings and parsing out problems, ultimately identifying who murdered their host, which to this reader was a complete surprise.

There are so many possible suspects in this mystery!  As Gemma uncovers clues it is revealed that many of the guests have reason to want David Masterson out of their lives.  Along the way each of the guests is described in detail, causing you to develop a like or dislike for each of them and being certain you've identified the murderer...until Gemma uncovers something else!.   Through keen observation and thought, Gemma uncovers several clues and observations that the police have missed.  Unlike other cozies, Ryan welcomes Gemma's input and his respect for Gemma's thought processes is apparent.

Any fan of Sherlock Holmes will like this series, and A Three Book Problem is an enjoyable addition.  I will look forward to reading book 8!
Was this review helpful?
Much like Sherlock, Jemma must use her deductive reasoning and her smashing English accent to look at all the signs, as there are more than four, when the party host becomes the victim of a darting.  A most unusual gathering of people to supposedly discuss the Cannon while in period dress at a mysterious Victorian home. It also seems that this group has very little good to say about their host. Jemma has a bit of an advantage over Sherlock, she has baker/cook extraordinaire Jayne Wilson, her best friend, for a Watson, and Detective Ryan Ashburton, her very clever and handsome boyfriend instead of Scotland Yard. No one is above suspicion and everyone has a motive, or at least the appearance of a motive, even the widow who seems a tad too dramatic about her great love and loss. Excellent read with red herrings, brilliant deductions and perfectly paired with mini mushroom tarts.
Was this review helpful?
Business is slowing at the Sherlock Holmes bookshop and Emporium and adjacent Mrs Hudson’s Tea Room. Wealthy philanthropist a prominent Sherlockian David Masterson rents Suffolk Gardens House where he plans to entertain his friends in a traditional English country house weekend. As the caterers get to work preparing lavish meals and setting up books and props for entertainment. While the police detective has taken time away from his duties to help in the kitchen. It quickly becomes apparent that David’s guests don’t like each other or their host. Some aren’t even acquainted with the adventures of the great detective. Before Gemma can ponder the relationships a poison dart sails through the window of the library presenting Gemma Doyle with a three-book problem. Can she figure out where the dart came from and who is involved. A very enjoyable story with great characters and an enjoyable plot to the story.
Was this review helpful?
This was a well written cozy with an interesting storyline. I enjoyed the characters and enjoyed visiting with them again.  
Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
I would love to say this book was good, to do it justice, but I refuse to fill in the blanks anymore too many missing letters.
Was this review helpful?
I love this series as the mysteries are always interesting and well plotted. i'm not a fan of Gemma but I like the other characters.
That said this is a gripping and entertaining story featuring a solid mystery that kept me guessing.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Was this review helpful?