Never an adventurer, no one was more surprised than Delaney Nichols when she packed her bags and moved halfway across the world to Edinburgh, Scotland to start a job at The Cracked Spine, a bookshop located in the heart of the city. Her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, has given her the opportunity of a lifetime, albeit a cryptic one, and Delaney can’t wait to take her spot behind the desk. The Cracked Spine is filled with everything a book lover could want, each item as eclectic as the people who work there; the spirited and lovable Rosie, 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. An extra bonus is Tom the bartender from across the street, with his cobalt eyes, and a gentle brogue―and it doesn’t hurt that he looks awfully good in a kilt. But before she can settle into her new life, a precious artifact goes missing, and Edwin’s sister is brutally murdered. Never did Delaney think that searching for things lost could mean a killer, but if she’s to keep her job, and protect her new friends, she’ll need to learn the truth behind this Scottish tragedy.
Sissy: The problem I had when I was reading this book was that I couldn’t get over the premise of the main character Delaney dropping everything and accepting a new and strange job in Scotland. The advertisement that she answered kept haunting me: “Wanted: A bold adventurer who wants to travel the world from a comfortable and safe spot behind a desk that has seen the likes of kings and queens, paupers and princes. A humble book and rare manuscript shop seeks a keenly intelligent investigator to assist us in our search for things thought lost, and in our quest to return lost items to their rightful owners.” Why have I never seen or responded to an advertisement like that? When I read The Cracked Spine, I have to admit that I was momentarily dissatisfied with my life. I wanted to run away to somewhere strange and intriguing and do something different, just like Delaney.
Bubby: If Delaney had the life that you have, she wouldn’t have wanted to run off to find a new start, don’t you think? In Edinburgh she finds the excitement and romance that she was missing in Kansas, as well as an ability to be bold, courageous, and adventurous that she hadn’t had before. She left to find her heart’s desire, I think. And your heart’s desire is to be with me (and your husband and kids, I suppose) all the time! Forever! Always together!
Sissy: You’re getting a smidge creepy. I just wanted to run off to Scotland for a week or two, that’s all.
Bubby: Oh. Well, in that case, let’s go! Because we’re always together. (I’m feeling the urge to sing a few bars of “Every Breath You Take” by the Police…)
Sissy: Um, I think I’ll go by myself. Delaney has a weird paranormal thing going on where she hears the voices of literary characters from the books she’s read. They usually tell her useful things, like how to find books that are lost. As some point after Delaney gets to The Cracked Spine bookshop, the voices go away. This is never explained and I’m hoping that author Paige Shelton will give us some answers in the next Scottish Bookshop mystery.
Bubby: Yes, that was a little strange, especially when the voices would have been very helpful in finding the…um…item. Yep. no spoilers today, folks! I don’t think I’ve adequately expressed how much I really got drawn into the characters and setting of The Cracked Spine. I loved almost everything about this story. Yes, I still have a lot of unanswered questions, but the whole book takes place in a very short period of time so that makes sense. I can’t wait for the next book so that I can find out more about the mysterious “artifacts” that store owner Edwin collects and more about this slightly shadowy group of antiquity buyers and sellers he belongs to called “The Fleshmarket Batch.” The name refers to an historic location, by the way, not anything more sinister.
Sissy: I want to know more about those things as well, and I want to see where the relationship between Delaney and Tom, owner of the Delaney’s Pub (just a coincidence of naming) goes. All I can say is a kind and sweet man is only made better by muscular legs in a kilt.
Bubby: I’ve never seen Mr. Sissy in a kilt. Shorts, yes, but no kilt. I think both of our men could rock a kilt quite nicely, don’t you?
Sissy: Mr. Sissy fancies himself more Viking than Highlander, so the best I’ll get is a horned helmet and a bear-skin cape. I’ll end by saying that this thoroughly enjoyable mystery was made even sweeter by my favorite character, taxi driver Elias, who along with his wife takes exceedingly good care of Delaney from the moment they meet. That’s the kind of people you want to meet whilst in a new land. I can’t wait for more adventures in The Cracked Spine from the Scottish Bookshop Mysteries.
Bubby: Paige Shelton is a new author for me, even though she has written three other mystery series (Farmer’s Market, Country Cooking School and Dangerous Type) and a few stand-alone books. I can see that I have been missing out and must treat myself to some of her other books at once. If they’re anywhere as good as The Cracked Spine, I’ll have to clear off a shelf in my library and stock up!
Click HERE to buy The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton