Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Of Books and Bagpipes: A Scottish Bookshop Mystery

Happy Hump Day!  We are halfway through the first week of April. Kale to the Queen by Nell Hampton will be out on April 11.  It is the first book in A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery series.  If you enjoy good characters, beautiful (and unique) setting, and an interesting mystery, then you should pre-order this new cozy mystery.  I will be reviewing it soon.

Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton is the second book in A Scottish Bookshop Mystery series.  Delaney Nichols works at The Cracked Spine in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Her boss, Edwin MacAlister has sent her on a special errand to Castle Doune to pick up a rare copy of Oor Wullie (an old Scottish comic).  Delaney only knows that her contact will be in costume.  She is driven by friend and landlord, Elias (also a cabdriver) who wishes to keep Delaney safe while on this errand.  Delaney is looking around and notices a body backward on a staircase.  It turns out to be the man Delaney was to meet.  While awaiting the police, Delaney does find the book which she quickly hides out of sight.  Upon returning to The Cracked Spine, she shares what happened with Edwin (and then the rest of the staff).  The deceased is Billy Armstrong, son of an old friend of Edwin’s, Gordon Armstrong.  Gordon had died two years previously in a boat fire.  The group is shocked when Gordon shows up later that day in the bookshop.  Gordon wants to know what happened to his son.  They find out that Gordon had sent the book to Edwin via Billy, and it contained the details on what had happened two years prior.  Delaney starts seeking the truth and to uncover who killed Billy Armstrong.  She is aided by her friends at The Cracked Spine and her “bookish voices”.  Delaney will need support if she is to uncover the lies and expose a killer.

I had not had the opportunity to read The Cracked Spine since its publication.  I discovered that it is better to read the first book (The Cracked Spine) before starting Of Books and Bagpipes.  Some background details are provided on the main character, but not all the needed information is included.  Of Books and Bagpipes is an arduous novel to read.  I found the Scottish dialogue difficult to decipher.  If it was just in small sections, it would be manageable (but it was not).   The pace of the book is slow and untangling the interchanges significantly slows down the reading.  There are several obscure and famous Scottish authors mentioned throughout the novel.  I believe most readers will like the inclusion of this information.  I give Of Books and Bagpipes 2.5 out of 5 stars.  The saving grace of this story is the mystery.  It is complicated and challenging to solve.  A reader needs to pay close attention to the details to unscramble the clues and crack the case.  Also, included in the novel is information on various historical sights.  While the information is interesting, it does bog down the story.  I was not a fan of Delaney’s boss, Edwin.  I find that he keeps too many secrets.  I believe the author was trying to make him mysterious, but it does not quite work.  I wish the author had stuck with a warehouse full of unusual and unique items (instead of all the secrets and lies). I did not see how Delaney’s “bookish voices” enhanced the book.  I would have preferred ghosts.  Ghosts associated with old historical sites (like Castle Doune) or maybe spirits that live in The Cracked Spine (I prefer this scenario).  While Of Books and Bagpipes was not to my liking, I am a fan of Paige Shelton’s other series (especially A Dangerous Type Mystery series).  

I hope you have found my review helpful.  I am off to rake and pick up leaves before the rain comes in on Thursday.  I am finally starting to see the ground (progress at last).  I will return tomorrow to review Cut in Darkness by Heather Sunseri.  May you have a delightful Wednesday. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

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