Series: Scottish Bookshop Mystery #2
Published by Minotaur Books on April 4, 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
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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.
I liked Of Books and Bagpipes much more than the first in the series. Delaney has been in Scotland for a while now and has come to care about the people she works with and her friends. I felt like her reason for investigating felt more natural this time around, a combination of natural curiosity and wanting to help.
As a mystery, it worked well. There were plenty of clues and suspects and secrets that went back decades. It takes a lot of unraveling and I was surpised by the whodunnit, although I felt the motive was bit weak. And of course, Delaney gets herself trapped, but I didn’t feel like it was because of stupidity on her part, which was nice. Sometimes female amateur detectives annoy me by taking risks that no sane woman would. Delaney didn’t do that here. She has someone with her when there’s a potential for danger, and always lets someone know where she is going. I like a woman with some common sense.
The characters are an interesting mix. Each has his/her own quirks but they fit well together. Delaney’s bookish voices weren’t too obtrusive. They add an interesting touch to the story. She hears voices from books she’s read that are kind of like her subconscious guiding her. It’s a bit odd, but it works, at least for me. The dialogue is well done. A couple of folks speak in a Scottish dialect, but it was easy to follow and words that were unfamiliar were explained, since they are unfamiliar to Delaney too.
I do admit that a large part of the appeal of this series for me is the setting. What could be a more perfect setting for a cozy mystery than a bookstore in Scotland? It makes me want to visit the castles, and library, and pub. And of course, hang out at the bookstore.