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Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton

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Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton
Series: Scottish Bookshop Mystery #2
Published by Minotaur Books on April 4, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
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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.

About Paige Shelton

Paige studied journalism at Drake College in Iowa. She has only ever wanted to be a writer. She’s had good jobs, bad jobs, great bosses, and terrible bosses, but through it all she has only wanted to write. She’s grateful to have the opportunity now.
Paige and her husband currently live in Arizona and have a college-age son.

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The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton

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The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton
Narrator: Carrington MacDuffie
Series: Scottish Bookshop Mystery #1
Published by Tantor Audio on March 29, 2016
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Mystery
Length: 7 hrs 56 mins
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In need of a good adventure, Delaney Nichols takes the leap and moves to Edinburgh, Scotland, to start a job at The Cracked Spine. She doesn't know much about what she's gotten herself into, other than that the work sounds exciting, and that her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, has given her the opportunity of a lifetime.When she arrives, she meets her new Scottish family; also working at the Cracked Spine are Rosie, perpetually wrapped in scarves, and who always has tiny dog Hector in tow; Hamlet, a nineteen-year-old thespian with a colored past and bright future; and Edwin, who is just as enigmatic and mysterious as Delaney expected.But before she can settle into her new life, a precious artifact-a previously undiscovered First Folio of Shakespeare's plays-goes missing, and Edwin's sister is murdered, seemingly in connection to the missing folio. Delaney decides to do some sleuthing of her own, to find out just what the real story is behind the priceless folio, and how it's connected to the tragic death, all without getting harmed herself.

Even though I had an eARC of The Cracked Spine, I listened to the audio version. I think it was a good choice. I could relax and listen to the words and accents. It was fun to listen to the Scottish lilt in the dialogue. I looked at my digital version, and I think actually reading the accent in print could have been a bit difficult. I would have almost had to read some portion aloud, at least at the beginning, just to get ahold of what was being said.

I love the setting- a bookstore in Scotland, and I enjoyed the plot, unless I think about it too much. Delaney’s off on an adventure that most of us can only dream off, and she’s a nice lady who I enjoyed spending time with. I didn’t quite understand her immediate jump into trying to figure out who killed a woman she had never met, the sister of her new boss who she barely knows, in a town she is unaccustomed to. The fact that she doesn’t know who she can actually trust, whose secrets are harmless and whose led to murder, doesn’t seem to bother her too much. She is a lot less wary than I think most women would be in this day and age, but at the same time, the narrator’s voice made her sound older than she seemed to be. It was a bit disconcerting. And, of course, she manages to put herself in a life-threatening situation, like the typical amateur female detective. Luckily, there’s a man around to save her.

I wanted to really love this one, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. While the eccentric characters and bookshop/warehouse were enchanting, the plot lacked believability for me. This is the first in a series though, so I might give the next one a chance. By then Delaney should be more knowledgeable about the people and places and maybe her involvement won’t seem so contrived.

About Paige Shelton

Paige studied journalism at Drake College in Iowa. She has only ever wanted to be a writer. She’s had good jobs, bad jobs, great bosses, and terrible bosses, but through it all she has only wanted to write. She’s grateful to have the opportunity now.
Paige and her husband currently live in Arizona and have a college-age son.

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