Of Books and Bagpipes: A Scottish Bookshop Mystery
2nd in the Series
Setting – Scotland
Minotaur Books (April 4, 2017)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Kindle ASIN: B01LZ3VIQ9
Delaney Nichols has settled so comfortably into her new life in Edinburgh that she truly feels it’s become more home than her once beloved Kansas. Her job at the Cracked Spine, a bookshop that specializes in rare manuscripts as well as other sundry valuable historical objects, is everything she had dreamed, with her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, entrusting her more and more with bigger jobs. Her latest task includes a trip to Castle Doune, a castle not far out of Edinburgh, to retrieve a hard-to-find edition of an old Scottish comic, an “Oor Wullie,” in a cloak and dagger transaction that Edwin has orchestrated.
While taking in the sights of the distant Highlands from the castle’s ramparts, Delaney is startled when she spots a sandal-clad foot at the other end of the roof. Unfortunately, the foot’s owner is very much dead and, based on the William Wallace costume he’s wearing, perfectly matches the description of the man who was supposed to bring the Oor Wullie. As Delaney rushes to call off some approaching tourists and find the police, she comes across the Oor Wullie, its pages torn and fluttering around a side wall of the castle. Instinct tells her to take the pages and hide them under her jacket. It’s not until she returns to the Cracked Spine that she realizes just how complicated this story is and endeavors to untangle the tricky plot of why someone wanted this man dead, all before getting herself booked for murder.
Paige Shelton has wrapped our protagonist, Delaney Nichols in quite an amazing tale in this follow up to The Cracked Spine.
Now that Delaney has become more at home in Edinburgh her new boss has asked her to visit a nearby castle to retrieve a rare old Scottish comic, an “Oor Wullie.” Her landlord, Elias agrees to take her in his taxi. She is looking forward to handling the task and doing a little sightseeing. When they arrive they appear to be the only ones there. But while she is taking in the view she sees a very unexpected sight, a human foot. She quickly finds out the owner of the foot is dead but sees no apparent cause for his death. While waiting for the police she does stumble across the old comic. She doesn’t know if it is evidence but hides under her coat and takes it with her when they are allowed to leave. She never imagined the web of secrets, lies, and half truths this book was going to uncover. Now if she can just find out the whole truth before she or anyone else ends up dead. Hopefully the bookish voices that speak to her will keep her safe and help her to quickly solve this very complex mystery.
I really do not know much Scottish history of folklore but I was all in as soon as I knew Delaney was headed to a castle. The drafty rooms, the narrow staircases, the battle ramparts, maybe a ghost or two. I was even excited about the dead body and the mystery of his death and finding out who he truly was.
Paige Shelton takes us on a true adventure. This is a complicated mystery that takes many tangents as we follow Delaney on her quest. We meet a bagpipe player, some reenactors putting on plays and a few fishmongers. We also met several people from Edwin MacAlister’s past. The rainy weather of winter played right into to a darker mystery feel. The detailed description of time and place were exquisite. The words invoked such vivid images in my mind.
After finding the body the pace of the story stays steady until some of the clues start to fall into place or are close to Delaney’s grasp. Then the story starts to build to the final exciting reveal that took me totally by surprise.
Another thing that I truly enjoyed was the way the core group of characters has accepted Delaney into their lives. Through her they have become family. Her landlords, the bookstore staff, pub owner/man of her affections, Tom, and his father. Yes, Delaney misses her real family back in Kansas but this new adopted family keeps her as safe as they can in a mystery novel and the relationships she has forged with them will last a lifetime.
This is not your typical cozy mystery, it is so much more. The bits of Scottish history, the Scottish and Gaelic accents, words, and phrases, and the landscapes added to a well plotted mystery make it more than Of Books and Bagpipes. I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to return to Edinburgh to continue Delaney’s journey. This book is headed directly to my “keeper shelf”. Be sure to read The Cracked Spine before you read this one for maximum enjoyment.
Paige Shelton is the New York Times Bestselling author of the Farmers’ Market Mysteries and the Country Cooking School Mysteries. She’s lived lots of places but currently resides in Arizona. Find out more at www.paigeshelton.com
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”