The Cracked Spine (A Scottish Bookshop Mystery #1)

The Cracked Spine

The first in Paige Shelton’s Scottish Bookshop Mystery series starts off so well. Delaney from Kansas answers an ad for a bookshop curator in Edinburgh, Scotland and starts her life anew across the pond. She finds a small cottage to rent courtesy of the taxi driver she meets upon her arrival, and makes friends with her new boss Edwin and the other two employees Rosie and Hamlet.

The first 100 pages of this book are absolutely enchanting and mysterious. Edwin is very rich and participates in clandestine auctions with other interested parties in the area that are also rich to bid on very rare merchandise. One such piece, a Shakespearean Folio, came into Edwin’s possession and he placed it in the care of his druggie, not-to-be-trusted sister for some reason and she ends up murdered and the Folio (capital F) goes missing. I am 100% on board with all of this for the first 1/3 of the book. But then Delaney, in her first 3 days in Scotland, decides she’s going to investigate the murder.

I mean, I basically slept my entire second day in London because of jet lag, but this chick from Kansas is navigating public transportation and making friends with cab drivers within 72 hours of touching down at the airport? I mean, okay Paige Shelton, I’ll suspend disbelief for this I guess.

What makes me kind of cranky though is that the next 100 pages are her going to the same three locations, talking to the same 3-4 people about the murder, with no noticeable forward progress. Isn’t she supposed to be doing a job at this bookshop? What is her job? She’s been in the bookshop but she hasn’t really done anything there by page 210 out of 279. So when I reached this point I was (1) bored and (2) not invested in the story or the characters.

And then suddenly the hot guy that works at the pub up the street from the bookshop invites her to dinner so he can show her how awesome Scottish whiskey is and we’re getting this weird “maybe we can make this a romance too?” 70% into the book and we’re asked to buy into this possible romance that Delaney is okay exploring 5 DAYS AFTER ARRIVING IN SCOTLAND FROM AMERICA. And we still don’t know what’s up with Jenny’s murder, and we’re not sure what Delaney’s job really is at the bookshop.

I won’t give the ending away, but if you decide to pick up this series due to the Scottish charm don’t be surprised by the instinct to simply set the book aside. It’s really slow despite having all the ingredients for an exciting, new life, murder mystery story. I need to really decide if I’m going to pick up book 2 after this one, or if I move on to something else. Walk, don’t run to this one.

(Honestly I would rather you go read the Tannie Maria mystery books. I’ve included their reviews below.)

Recipes for Love and Murder (Tannie Maria Mystery #1)

The Satanic Mechanic (Tannie Maria Mystery #2)