I loved this one! Gemma Doyle runs a small bookstore that specialized in Sherlock Holmes books, DVDS, and memorabilia. She splits the space with her best friend's tea shop and bakery. During a busy rush, she finds out someone has hidden a valuable magazine among her regular cheapies. Knowing the value, she seeks out the woman who dropped it off to see what's up. Once there, she finds the woman - *gasp!* - murdered, and from there on gets sucked into a whopper of a mystery. Not only is she trying to solve the crime to clear her name from a suspicious detective who clearly WANTS her to be guilty, but she soons discovers her own life may be in danger if she doesn't uncover the fiendish foe.
Love the main character, who is so observant it's creepy and scares others off, much like the original Holmes - yet she's forgetful at hell and is absent minded. Not to mention that while she runs a Sherlock themed shop, she's not even a rabid fan of the author and inherited it. Her fun friend Jayne who runs the tea shop next door is a delightful sidekick - especially the twisted way she gears toward deadbeat boyfriends that drives the MC bonkers. A few funny happenings there with the deadbeat artist hanging around. Throw in oddball characters and characterization wins.
The setting is such fun, even if you're not a Sherlock groupie. Gemma is a clear reader, so she has special reserved reading nooks in the store and at home. The shop has a neighborhood cat who runs the place and loves all guests and patrons - with the exception of Gemma, who gets clawed. The tea shop is fun since it makes me crave scones and strawberry pastries, and unlike some cozies and books it takes the tea seriously. No simple bags, but complex blends and steeping know-how.
What sets this apart is it's an actual, bona-fide mystery. Instead of accidental discoveries adding up to coincidental plotting, Gemma uses her brain to evaluate and take apart every angle. She spends much time investigating and revealing her thoughts and observations to the reader mentally in first person point of view. This walk through the crime, suspects and scenes is one of the most impressive I've seen with a mystery, even compared to non-cozies and straight detective procedurals. Her mind is impressive, even if she's forgetful, and this isn't a mystery that takes you by surprise.
I didn't guess the culprit for the author kept them carefully concealed. Kudos because it wasn't impossible to guess if you'd had a mind to. Despite the fact that Gemma stayed on top of her game throughout, even she didn't guess the villain in time before a final confrontation. Saves may be a little coincidental, but that's okay.
Fun pacing, excellent characters, and a nifty writing style made this one a delight to breeze through. I'll definitely check out more of the series when it continues. Probably my favorite mystery so far this year.