Cover Image: The Sign of Four Spirits

The Sign of Four Spirits

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Member Reviews

I love the connection between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Spiritualism. The mystery was engaging and thought-provoking. The weak area of this series continues to be Gemma, the MC. Her portrayal just reiterates why Watson was the narrator, not Holmes.

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I really love these mysteries! I love how Gemma notices and remembers things most normal people would not. Very entertaining series!! Can't wait for more!

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This was a great closed room mystery. The plot was cleverly crafted with several suspects and Gemma has some sleuthing to do. I love the charactersand it was an enjoyable read.
Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Princess Fuzzypants here: Gemma Doyle shares some of the same talent for observation that her ancestor endowed in his famous fictional character. She has proven she is not just a mild mannered book shop owner but a good sleuth in her own right. When a psychic fair sets up shop in New London, Gemma will be drawn into a murder that involves Sir Arthur’s fascination with spiritualism. Did a ghost really kill the medium at a seance or is there a more corporeal villain at large?

Just to keep things interesting there are other conflicts and distractions going on around them and when a second murder is committed, she realizes she might have been sidetracked from seeing the real killer. I did twig to the culprit earlier than Gemma but there was a great backstory that was only revealed at the end. I like the fact that Gemma uses her mind and wits to solve crimes but she and her detective boyfriend Ryan share a mutual respect for the other’s skills.

Four purrs and two paws up.

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Thank you to Netgally, the publishers, and Vicki Delany

When I requested this book I was unaware that it was apart of a series, one that requires you to read the previous books for this one to make sense. I am unable to read all the previous books along with this one before the publish date. Therefore, I will rate this a fair 3/5 stars and will adjust the rating and review when I am able to read all the books in the series along with this one.

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This is book 9 in this series, and I hadn't read the others. There was definitely some history I was missing out on, but overall, I followed everything just fine.

The Sign of Four Spirits involves a seance, a murdered medium, and Gemma Doyle there to help solve the crime. The mystery was well paced, and I genuinely didn't guess the culprit until the reveal.

This is a series I might be interested in going back and reading the previous installments. The characters seemed nicely developed, and I enjoyed the bookstore atmosphere. I especially liked all of the interesting facts about Sherlock Holms and Arthur Conan Doyle mentioned throughout.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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When book store owner Gemma is invited to a seance, she readily declines but when a friend needs her she goes. Her gut tells her something is off and when she is asked to leave the room her senses pick. Suddenly everything erupts, the lights go out and the medium is dead.
An enjoyable who done it that puts your detective skills to the test. A locked room mystery with a number of suspects but then another murder happens and all is not what it seems. Keeps you reading and wondering at the same time.

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I absolutely love Gemma’s personality and how it is infused into each page, each word, and this book was no exception! It was truly such a fun read as were brought back into the world of Gemma Doyle and her propensity for stumbling upon crimes.
While the mystery itself was a little lackluster for me as I easily guessed the murderer early on, I could forgive that fact because of how incredibly fun the character interactions and dynamics are! I’m already looking forward to the next book.

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This is the ninth book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery series. A psychic fair has arrived in West London. Gemma Doyle does not believe in spirits but is coerced into attending a seance to support her bookstore employee Ashleigh & Ashleigh's former pop star mother Bunny Leigh. The dozen attendees arrive at Rebecca Stanton's mansion. To her surprise, Gemma is banned from the seance & she is forced to listen from outside the library. When she hears a scream. Gemma bursts into the room to find someone has been stabbed to death with a unique weapon. All the lights were off as the summer storm raged. Everyone had been holding hands during the seance. So was the killer one of the guests? Or did a real ghost have malicious intent?

Gemma has become a softer, more likable character as the series has progressed. She agrees to help her police detective boyfriend Ryan Ashburton with the investigation. With the help of her best friend Jayne Wilson, Gemma uses her strong powers of observation to eliminate suspects. But then another death occurs & Gemma has to race to save a third person from a similar deadly fate. This was another enjoyable entry in this long-running series.

I received a digital ARC from Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books. All opinions are my own.

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I’m a fan of Vicki Delany’s Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mysteries, and her amateur sleuth, Gemma Doyle. Although Gemma is on the periphery of the scene when the murder occurs in The Sign of Four Spirits, she works her unofficial investigation, using her knowledge of the people on the scene.

One of Gemma’s employees at Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, Ashleigh, recently reunited with her mother, former pop star Bunny Leigh. Although Gemma has no interest in the psychic fair that’s in West London on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Bunny is interested. She wants Ashleigh to attend a seance with her during the fair, and Ashleigh begs Gemma to attend, and be there for her. Gemma can’t say no to Ashleigh, so she and her best friend, Jayne Wilson, head baker at Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, agree to go together.

It’s an unusual group of people at Rebecca Stanton’s home, including her visiting stepson and his wife, along with Rebecca’s niece, a couple who arrived by boat as tourists, Gemma, and several friends. But, when they enter the library for the seance, there are only twelve chairs, and the medium’s assistant asks Gemma to leave the room because the medium doesn’t need Gemma’s skepticism. Gemma might not be in the room, but she can station herself outside so she can at least hear what’s happening. She can’t see, but she can hear the screams and the call from her friend, Jayne. When Gemma flips on the lights, one of the people in the room is dead. It doesn’t take long for Gemma and several others to realize it was murder.

Ryan Ashburton, Gemma’s boyfriend, and the lead detective for the West London police department, responds to the scene, along with his partner, Detective Louise Estrada. Although it’s a locked room murder, with only twelve suspects, the detectives are stymied, and Ryan admits to Gemma they could use her assistance. As Gemma asks questions, and is in the right place at times, she puts together the clues that lead to the correct conclusion in a surprising case.

I like Gemma, modeled after Sherlock Holmes. In the course of the series, she has become quite a bit more human and likable. By book nine, it’s fun to watch her analyze people, motives, and calculate the likelihood that someone may be a killer. The Sign of Four Spirts is an entertaining story for fans of the canon and its pastiches.

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Sherlock Holmes bookshop series.
Gem a and friends attends a seance which Gamma was ask not to attend but waits out side of the room when she hears a cry for help.after getting in she finds a murder.
In the now unlocked room with many suspects.
Good mystery twists intriguing story and great characters.
Voluntary reviewed.

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Dollycas's Thoughts

Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium owner Gemma Doyle finds herself caught up in another murder mystery when she goes against her better judgment and attends a séance arranged by former pop star Bunny Leigh, with her best friend Jayne, her assistant Ashleigh, and her friend and avid Holmes fan Donald Morris. Donald hopes to connect with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But before the séance begins Gemma is asked to leave the room by Madame Lavalier due to her skepticism, saying it would "disturb some her visitors".

Like any good amateur sleuth, she leaves the room but listens from the other side of the door. While she expected some shenanigans, she didn't expect a scream and a cry for help. Plunging through the door and turning on the lights she finds someone facedown on the table and quickly determines they are dead. There is only one exit out of the room and Gemma didn't see anyone come out. The windows are all locked too. The murderer is in this room! Gemma just isn't sure, is the killer a human being or a spirit?

____

Ms. Delany has penned a classic closed room whodunit in her 9th Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery and given her readers a real treat.

The characters in this series continue to shine. Gemma's sleuthing skills rival Mr. Holmes himself. When she does get a little off track Ryan, her detective boyfriend is there to bring her back. His partner, Detective Louise Estrada hates when Gemma butts into their cases but is getting used to it. Gemma and her best friend Jayne, half-owner and manager of Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room which is attached to her bookshop, meet every day for a "business meeting", but if there is a murder afoot that becomes the prime discussion. Gemma's assistant, Ashleigh has reconnected with her mother, former pop star Bunny Leigh who gets her involved in crazy things like a séance. Both Bunny and  Sherlockian Donald Morris are excited to attend the psychic fair. Donald's attendance is very beneficial for Gemma's bookshop as he promoted it to everyone he talked to as the prime place to get Arthur Conan Doyle's books not only featuring Sherlock Holmes but also his books about spirits and fairies.

There were twelve at the séance table including the victim when the murder occurred. All were suspects but Gemma knew her friends had nothing to do with the murder but may have noticed or heard something important. With seven suspects and an unusual murder weapon, Gemma shares with Ryan and Louise what little she knows about them and how the weapon may have been brought into the room. Then they start their official investigation while Gemma starts her unofficial one. I like that she shares her findings and theories with them rather than holding them back and trying to solve the whole thing by herself. That doesn't mean she doesn't find herself in an exciting showdown with the killer when all the clues snap into place though. I found myself at the edge of my seat as Gemma calmly tried to talk the killer out of their intentions anxious to see what would happen next.

The Sign of Four Spirits is a spirited well-plotted and well-executed cozy mystery with plenty of twists and turns. The well-developed characters easily draw readers into their lives. This story is entertaining from beginning to end. A Perfect Escape!

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I had this one but it even after downloading to my kindle it wouldn't work, so had to wait till it came out to read it.
I enjoyed this one as it's my favorite series so I always have fun with the characters. Loved how the lady doing the seance didn't want Gemma in there with them but she still managed to figure things out.

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I read all the books leading up to this ARC and I am glad I did, this is a great series! I can't wait until the next installment comes out! Vicki Delany is one of my always-read authors now! I can't wait to see where Gemma and her detective end up!

#TheSignofFourSpirits
#NetGalley

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The Sign of Four Spirits by Vicky Delany is the ninth book in Sherlock Holmes Bookstore Mystery as such a treat as always. It can be read as a standalone without any problems.

Story is very interesting and well presented, with clues clearly left for readers to follow.
I love both MC and all side characters, they are such a fun group to read about. Very solid characters, smart, realiable and relatable.
It is steady paced, without any boring or stalling parts. The language is easy to read.
I enjoy every installment and read it as soon as it comes out.
Real pleasure.

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This is yet another lovely installment in the series and I was happy to spend some time in the world these characters create. This adventure centers around a medium and a seance gone bad, as a part of a psychic fair that comes into town. The same wonderful witty banter can be enjoyed throughout this one, and I even love the characters that are designed to be a bit grating. It's a colorful cast that always seems to get their killer in the end somehow. The descriptions of psychic adventures were snarky and fun, which seemed appropriate considering how Sherlock would have felt about it all.

I will say that the audiobook for this didn't do it justice, and it felt like it was trying to make it seem overdone and campy (more than you want it to). The voice acting would have made me stop reading this book if I wasn't already attached to the characters and wanted to continue in the series. So, don't be tempted to get the audiobook - please stick with the ebook or physical read.

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The timing for me to read The Sign of Four Spirits by Vicki Delany was kismet. The Sisters in Crime Grand Canyon chapter had her as their January guest speaker open to all SinC members and held over Zoom. I've seen Vicki speak in person and her fortitude in writing seems unparalleled. She's written over 50 books!

For this review, rather than simply gush about how much I love this series set in a fictional Cape Cod town which sounds like my idea of a perfect life, I'll break down a bit of how the author structures this mystery plot.

Characters:

Gemma Doyle is the main character and a descendant of the great Sherlock Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. She uprooted her life to co-habitate with her Uncle Arthur who is hardly ever home. Delany has created a sleuth much like her inspiration, Sherlock Holmes. Over the course of the series, Gemma begins to learn that she can be rough around the edges, a bit unfriendly and gruff. However, Gemma is a softer and kinder version of Sherlock. She has two dogs at home, Violet and Peony; plus a black cat, Moriarty, who lives at her Sherlock Holmes bookshop and emporium. Gemma also makes time for romance. At this point (the ninth book of the series), Gemma is dating a police detective.

Gemma has all of the acute awareness of her surroundings. She knows there are seventeen steps up to her office. She can tell if there's a stray hair on someone's coat. She'll notice everything from mud on sneakers to how many glasses are in a room. When it comes to finding any evidence and unmasking offenders, Gemma doesn't always have time for a plan.

As an Easter Egg, her shop cat, Moriarty does not like her. They tolerate each other and have affection, but it's not on display the way Gemma loves her energetic dogs, Peony and Violet.

Jayne Wilson fills in as Dr. John Watson. Jayne runs the teashop side of the Sherlock-themed enterprise. She's a chef/baker, an employer, a best friend to Gemma, and a fiancée to a restaurant chef. Needless to say, Jayne has her hands full even before she gets intertwined into the West London mysteries. She's the Yin the Gemma's Yang. Her role is important in providing the protagonist with reminders about being more approachable. She also ends up providing necessary sparks through casual conversation that ignite Gemma into putting the puzzle pieces together.

The Four Spirits:

This story revolves around a séance that takes place in large manor/mansion on the Cape. The spirits that allegedly come through are connected to individuals present. Madame Laval, the medium, could have done some preliminary work to find out who the attendees would want to contact, but there's one voice that comes a shock and no one claims to know who it is until the climax.

General Themes:
Greed
Murder
Young people needing to find their own way vs. parental expectations
Plotting and Pacing:

Many people who want to write a book (mysteries, in particular) tackle them as if they have to reinvent the wheel. Outlining may not work for everyone, but I do not understand how someone starting out wouldn't even have a beat sheet or scribbled notes about when events must happen in order for the story to move along. After 50 books, I don't know if it's necessary for an accomplished mystery writer like Delany to make an outline.

Since I read from a digital review copy, my notes on plotting are in percent-completed not page number:

21% first victim murdered;

41% some details of Gemma's history are sprinkled in to get new readers caught up;

42% a major insight to how certain attendees of the séance (scene of first murder) were connected;

48% biggest motive for the second of the murders revealed;

56% motive for why some people were at the séance in the first place and red herring that first victim might have been a case of mistaken identity;

63% prime suspect eliminated from the list;

71% dramatic action leading to the second murder;

78% the original prime suspect lands back at the top of the list for the first murder which is negated a short time later at 80%;

82% protagonist intuits that someone else may be in grave danger which could lead to a third murder; this pushes her to bolt into action;

86% climax; the protagonist and murderer have their faceoff to get all the explanations and reasons out into the open; this leads to some resolution;

87% (chapter 25 of 27) this is chapter where the protagonist gets her "Agatha Christie Moment" assembling people including the police to bring down the murderer;

The wrap-up follows in the last two chapters.

This breakdown shows the development Delany took to move characters through their arcs. This is not, by any means, a detailed breakdown, merely highlights. Things come together for everyone who had their own side stories.

Summary:

Vicki Delany's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series can be used as a masterclass outline for How to Write a Cozy Mystery. Gemma Doyle continues to be a character full of intuition and keen observations.

Rating: 5 stars

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What a fun installment! While this series doesn't need to be read in order, it does enhance the experience if you're already familiar with the West London gang. I absolutely love all the friendship vibes in this series, and this book really let the relationships shine. In a unique setup for a mystery, all we (and Gemma) can do is listen to the leadup and aftermath of the crime, and work from there to figure out what's happened. A famous psychic with seemingly no attachment to anyone present is dead, and (in a truly shocking move) Detective Ashburton actually asks for Gemma's help in solving the case. 🤣 I really liked this installment! Not my favorite in the series, but a very fun one nonetheless. Four stars from me!

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.**

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I always love how Vicki Delany is able to sprinkle interesting and cool facts about Sherlock and Doyle into her stories.
The mystery remained, just that, until the reveal. I was not able to guess who the killer was but it all made sense once you found out the who and why.
I am looking forward to reading the next installment in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series.

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Book Review: The Sign of Four Spirits: A Delightfully Engaging Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 Stars

Vicki Delany's ninth installment in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series, "The Sign of Four Spirits," is a captivating and charming addition to Gemma Doyle's sleuthing adventures. With an adorable cover that draws readers in, this book delivers an enjoyable and well-paced mystery that will keep fans of the series entertained.

The story begins when a psychic fair arrives in West London, much to Gemma's dismay. As the owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, she initially wants nothing to do with it. However, an enthusiastic Sherlockian named Donald Morris convinces her to attend a séance along with her best friend Jayne, store assistant Ashleigh, and former pop star Bunny Leigh.

To Gemma's surprise, she is banned from the séance and forced to eavesdrop from outside the room. As she listens, she hears a cry for help and witnesses a murder taking place inside the locked room. Gemma finds herself once again stepping into the role of detective as she unravels the mystery of the murderer's identity.

Delany's writing is engaging and skillful, effortlessly transporting readers into the atmospheric world of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop. The setting is vividly described, and the author's attention to detail immerses readers in the streets of West London. From the cozy bookshop to the intriguing psychic fair, each location feels authentic and adds depth to the story.

The pacing of the book is well-executed, keeping readers on their toes as Gemma investigates the murder. Delany expertly balances moments of suspense with lighter moments of camaraderie among the characters. Though the mystery might not be the most challenging to solve, it is still satisfyingly laid out with enough twists to keep readers engaged until the final reveal.

One of the highlights of this series is its well-developed cast of characters. Gemma Doyle is a relatable and likable protagonist who effortlessly carries the story. Her interactions with Jayne, Ashleigh, and Bunny bring humor and warmth, making them feel like old friends. Delany skillfully weaves their relationships into the narrative, enhancing both the mystery and the overall reading experience.

In conclusion, "The Sign of Four Spirits" is a delightful addition to Vicki Delany's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series. With its adorable cover, engaging writing, and well-paced plot, this book is a must-read for fans of cozy mysteries. While not the most challenging mystery to solve, its charm lies in its characters and atmospheric setting. I eagerly look forward to diving into the next installment of this captivating series.

⚠️This review was written based on personal opinions and experiences with the book. Individual preferences may vary⚠️

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