First Line: It was perhaps fortuitous.
With master's degrees in literature and history and her walking papers from the small museum in which she used to work, Delaney Nichols grabs the opportunity of a lifetime. She packs her bags and moves from Kansas to Edinburgh, Scotland to work in Edwin MacAlister's bookshop The Cracked Spine.
Delaney knows scarcely a thing about what she's gotten herself into, but the work sounds exciting, and her new boss has promised that she'll be working at a desk "that has seen the likes of kings and queens, paupers and princes." Delaney can't wait to get started.
Her new bookshop family is very welcoming, and Tom the bartender from the pub across the street looks mighty fine in a kilt. But before she can settle into her new life and her new job, a previously undiscovered First Folio of Shakespeare's plays goes missing, and Edwin's sister is murdered. Delaney wants to help Edwin, so she starts doing a bit of sleuthing. What's the real story behind the priceless folio, and how is it connected to Edwin's sister?
Author Paige Shelton takes many a book lover's dream-- moving to the UK and working in a bookshop-- and weaves it into a first-rate beginning of a new series. Through Delaney, she does an excellent job of portraying an American's culture shock in the ancient city of Edinburgh: driving on the "wrong" side of the road, the narrow streets, the incredibly old buildings everywhere, and the accents and friendliness of the Scottish people.
But the cultural differences aren't the only reason to devour The Cracked Spine. Delaney is an intriguing blend of intelligence and naïveté, and she's surrounded by an excellent secondary cast. The scarf-wearing Rosie with her little dog Hector always in tow. Handsome and charming Tom from across the street. Her landlords Elias and his wife. Detective Inspector Winters. And with all the treasures he's collected in The Cracked Spine's storeroom and his disorganized, mad professorish ways, Edwin MacAlister should be the source for many a future mystery.
Speaking of mysteries, the one in The Cracked Spine is a good'un. I didn't have a clue to the killer's identity, which always gives me a thrill. There were a couple of tiny things that made me raise an eyebrow: Delaney's finding her cottage was a bit too fortuitous, and I didn't quite believe her willingness to investigate Jenny's death, but they in no way ruined my enjoyment of the book. On the contrary-- I can't wait for the next installment!
The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton
Minotaur Books © 2016
Hardcover, 320 pages
Cozy Mystery, #1 Scottish Bookshop mystery
Source: the author