Series: Scottish Bookshop Mystery #5
Published by Minotaur Books on April 7, 2020
Genres: Cozy Mystery
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Delaney Nichols is confident she’s doing what she loves—case in point, just one day after returning from her fabulous European honeymoon, she’s eager to get back to the Cracked Spine, the bookstore where she works. But as she disembarks her bus and hurries toward the shop she and another woman collide, sending a stack of books the woman is carrying to the ground.
Delaney’s hapless victim’s name is Mary, and the two women can’t help but notice that they bear an uncanny resemblance to one another. According to Mary, they both also look like the long-beheaded Mary Queen of Scots. Even stranger, Mary believes she is the reincarnation of the Scottish queen. But peculiar as Delaney’s doppelganger is, she doesn’t have time to dwell on it: on her arrival to the bookshop, she learns the Edinburgh city council wants to close the Cracked Spine, citing code violations, and she’s determined to stop them.
But when Mary’s husband dies in a car explosion—and Delaney learns he was the very member of city council who proposed that the city take a closer look at the bookshop’s construction—she starts to wonder if her meeting with Mary wasn’t an accident. Edinburgh has become as filled with intrigue and deception as any European court, and Delaney is determined to get to the bottom of this royal mystery.
The Stolen Letter is the fifth of the Scottish Bookshop Mysteries. I’ve read all of them, and while you could jump in at this one, you’d miss seeing Delaney, our amateur sleuth, starting her adventure, new in town, to finding a second family at the bookshop, falling in love, and really making her dreams come true. This time around she meets Mary Stewart, a woman who looks almost exactly like her, but 20 years older. Mary believes she’s a reincarnation of Mary, Queen of Scots. I loved how the Queen’s story was woven into a current day murder mystery. This series often includes a slight mystical element, but they never, well rarely, jump into the truly paranormal. They are all definitely cozy mysteries, with very real “whodunits.”
I love the setting. Delaney works in the mysterious, yet inviting bookshop, The Cracked Spine. I love spending time with Delaney and the other staff of the shop. They are all charming and a bit quirky. The author really brings Edinburgh, Scotland to life. We can see the ancient castle and cobbled walkways, feel the cold, damp rain, hear the brogue of the locals, and smell the time-worn books and treasures that clutter the bookshop.
The plot is well-done. I like the twists and turns and the various suspects. The clues pointed in the right direction, and I like that Delaney does work with the cops and a local reporter. She realizes that everyone working together can get more done. I do wonder if some of her new friends will show up in future books. I’m still wondering about the connection between Delaney and Mary.