Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, Lost Books and Old Bones is a delightful new mystery by Paige Shelton, featuring bookseller and amateur sleuth Delaney Nichols.
Delaney Nichols, originally of Kansas but settling happily into her new life as a bookseller in Edinburgh, works at the Cracked Spine in the heart of town. The shop is a place filled with curiosities and surprises tucked into every shelf, and it’s Delaney’s job to research the rare tomes and obscure artifacts that people come to buy and sell. When her new friends, also students at the medical school, come to the shop to sell a collection of antique medical books, Delaney knows she’s stumbled across a rare and important find indeed. Her boss, Edwin MacAlister, agrees to buy the multivolume set, perhaps even to keep for his own collection.
But not long after the sale, one of Delaney’s new friends is found murdered in the alley behind the Cracked Spine, and she wonders if there is some nefarious connection between the origin of these books and the people whose hands they fell into. Delaney takes it upon herself to help bring the murderer to justice. During her investigation, Delaney she finds some old scalpels in the bookshop’s warehouse—she and discovers that they belonged to a long-dead doctor whose story and ties to the past crimes of Burke and Hare might be connected to the present-day murder. It’s all Delaney can do to race to solve this crime before time runs out and she ends up in a victim on the slab herself.
About the Author
Paige Shelton had a nomadic childhood as her father’s job as a football coach took the family to seven different towns before she was even twelve years old. After college at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, she moved to Salt Lake City where she thought she’d only stay a few years, but she fell in love with the mountains and a great guy who became her husband. After a couple of decades in Utah, she and her family recently moved to Arizona.
Paige is the author of the Scottish Bookshop Mystery series, including The Cracked Spine and Of Books and Bagpipes.
PAIGE SHELTON had a nomadic childhood, as her father's job as a football coach took her family to seven different towns before she was even twelve years old. After college at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, she moved to Salt Lake City. She thought she'd only stay a couple years, but instead she fell in love with the mountains and a great guy who became her husband. After many decades in Utah, she and her family moved to Arizona. She writes the Scottish Bookshop Mystery series, which begins with The Cracked Spine.
Read an Excerpt
The cold liquid splashed the back of my neck before it rolled down and underneath my shirt. I gasped and reflexively turned to see who had sloshed their drink in my direction.
"Delaney! I'm so sorry. Oh dear. Here let's go tae the toilet. I'll get you cleaned up and you can have my shirt," Sophie said loudly with a drunken slur as she grabbed my arm and started to pull me through the crowd.
"But then what will you wear?" I asked, trying to raise my voice.
She didn't hear me above the crowd and band noise. I barely heard myself.
Though loud, the performers weren't, in fact, a band; they were a duo. Mad Ferret was made up of one Irish and one Scottish gentleman. Together they performed upbeat folk songs that brought out the jig in pretty much everybody.
I'd first seen them with Tom, my boyfriend, after the two Mad Ferret members had stopped by his pub one evening and invited him to a show. Tom had taken me to see them in a very dark pub that hadn't seemed quite big enough for the jubilant crowd inside. The setting was much the same tonight, though Tom wasn't with me and my new friends, Sophie and Rena, and my newest friend Mallory, whom I'd just met this evening. All the women were medical students at the University of Edinburgh.
A few crowd dodges later, Sophie and I made our way toward the small back ladies' room, a place where everyone wrote their name on the walls and the liquid soap smelled like the lavender hips scent my mom used in her kitchen back home in Kansas.
The three green-doored stalls inside were empty and the music fell into a muffled tinny bass beat when the bathroom door closed behind us.
"Your shirt is soaked through. I'm so, so sorry. I was careless. I'll have it cleaned," Sophie said as she turned me around so she could inspect my back. Then she turned me again to face her. "Here, take mine."
I stopped her just as she made it to the second button of her blouse.
"It's not a problem. I've been spilled on before," I said. "Don't worry about it."
She blinked her heavily mascaraed brown eyes my direction. Until tonight I'd only seen her and her roommate Rena with light to no makeup and hastily brushed or pulled back hair. They were usually dressed in scrubs or jeans. Their skirts and makeup as well as their post-test Friday desire to blow off some steam had surprised me tonight, though I remembered that feeling from when I was back at the University of Kansas.
I'd lost track of how many gin and tonics they'd downed, though it seemed that Sophie was moving double-time compared with the rest of us. Now, some of her latest drink was beginning to make my back sticky. I was going to smell like a pine tree, but I didn't really mind.
Reluctantly she said, "All right. At least let me buy you a drink tae make up for it."
I laughed. "I'm good, but I'm glad you're having fun."
"I'm going to have a wicked hangover tomorrow, but it's worth it. It's good tae let loose a little."
I smiled and redid the one button on her shirt. She didn't seem to notice as she leaned against the sink.
"It's a lucky twist of fate that we met you," she said.
"I feel the same about you guys. Come on, let's head back out and listen to some more music," I said, sensing an alcohol-induced love fest coming on if I didn't distract her.
A couple of months earlier, Sophie and Rena had come into The Cracked Spine, the rare book and manuscript shop that I'd traveled halfway around the world to work at. They'd brought in some old medical books that had been in Rena's family for decades. Rena's father had given her the books with the hope she could sell them and use the money to help with her own medical school tuition.
An Atlas of Illustrations of Clinical Medicine, Surgery and Pathology was made of up twenty-five books, all of them filled with colorful, gruesome pictures that depicted the many things that could go wrong on and in the human body. The books had been printed in the early 1900s by the New Sydal Society, with hand-drawn illustrations. My boss Edwin's eyes had filled with tears when he'd seen them; he'd swooned.
"Lass," he'd said. "These were from the time of the Industrial Revolution, when we didn't even know how much we were learning until later when we could look back and be utterly amazed at ourselves. These are the most beautiful things I've seen in a long, long while."
He'd pored over the books for days, dreamily. I'd thought that perhaps he'd had more than a few moments over the years when he wished he'd turned his biology degree into something medical, instead of founding and cultivating the most amazing rare and used book and manuscript shop in Scotland.
Edwin had given Rena slightly more than the books were worth. He couldn't decide what to do with them. He wouldn't resell them, but would either keep them for himself or donate them to a library, or perhaps to the University of Edinburgh Medical School. Edwin liked those sorts of happy endings. Someday, Rena might walk past a display case and look upon the books that had helped her and so many others before her learn the most respected of professions.
I found the medical books interesting, particularly when I could manage to look past the stomach-curdling images and let myself be amazed by the knowledge, work, and sheer will of patience that had gone into creating them. I knew that some of Edwin's most beloved treasures weren't the most expensive ones. I suspected he'd keep the books for himself.
Sophie bounced herself away from the sink but then leaned, in a weird slow-motion movement, back into it again.
"I need tae tell you something," she said as she grabbed my arm.
She glanced toward the door and then at the empty stalls. "You can't tell Rena."
"Um, okay," I said.
"I think I'm in trouble. I'm not having a good semester. And that test today; I'm sure I failed," she said.
"Oh, Sophie, I'm sure you're going to be fine. You've been brilliant so far. You're just ... Well, you'll feel better tomorrow. Maybe not in the morning, but by the afternoon." I gave her a smile, but I didn't think she saw it.
She and Rena had been brilliant, attaining notoriety at the University of Edinburgh Medical School as two of its top students. They'd both come from Glasgow, started college twice, once when they were both eighteen and then again at twenty-five. Their first time, they'd flunked out. After a successful second run at undergrad, they'd begun medical school when they were thirty. Friends since they were younger, Sophie and Rena had made a pact to go through life together. They were an unbeatable team.
"No, no." She waved off my words. "Medical school is really, really hard, Delaney."
"I know, but I'm sure ... Hey, let's not worry about that tonight. When will you know the grade on this test you took today?"
"Should be posted by Sunday."
"All right. I'll come over and we'll look at it together if that would help. Or you can come over to my house. Whatever is easier. I'm sure it will be fine, Sophie. You've had a fair amount to drink, and maybe that's causing some undue emotions."
She looked at me with glassy eyes, blinking heavily again. "I hope you're right."
"I know I am. Come on."
But before I could get her away from the sink again, the bathroom door opened, bringing Rena and Mallory into the already cramped space.
"There you are!" Rena said as she glanced back and forth between Sophie and me. "Everything okay?"
"Yep. We were just heading back out," I said.
Inside the small room, Sophie and Rena's similarities seemed even more obvious. Both were tall and thin with brown eyes and long brown hair. Sophie's hair had a wave to it while Rena's was stick-straight. When you looked closely, you could spot other differences too: Sophie's face was pleasantly round, Rena's was made with slightly sharper angles and she had a stronger chin. They didn't look like sisters, but could pass for cousins. In contrast, Mallory was shorter, curvier, and platinum blond. Her dark roots currently showed and she'd mentioned to everyone earlier that she needed to do something about them, but that there would be no time until the short summer break that began in a couple of months.
"Oh. Let's wait a bit," Rena said.
"Why?" I asked.
Rena and Mallory looked at each other.
"Dr. Eban is out there," Mallory said.
Sophie put her hand to her mouth. "He's here?"
"Aye," Rena said. "And he's taking note of the students he sees, I'm certain. He's rather evil that way."
"He's probably come tae ruin everyone's night," Sophie said. "Fail us all for having a wee bit of fun when we should all be home, crying about the grades he'll be doling out on the exam."
Rena's eyebrows came together as she looked at Sophie and then at me. "None of us want tae make an ill impression."
"He's a tough one," Mallory said to me with a small smile. "He's also a wee bit odd."
"Odd how?" I asked, noting that Mallory seemed more amused than horrified, as Sophie seemed to be. I chalked up the different reactions to the probable levels of alcohol each had consumed.
As I asked the question, a thought took shape in the back of my mind. None of these women, though Mallory was only twenty-seven to Sophie and Rena's thirty-two, was young or foolish. They were grown, long of legal drinking age. It didn't seem to me that they should feel the need to hide their behavior from anyone, including a professor.
Mallory seemed to consider the best way to further explain Dr. Eban, but Rena jumped in. "He begins every semester with a story about William Burke and William Hare. Those names familiar?"
"Of course," I said. "The men who killed for corpses." I cleared my throat. "That's a bit to the point, but ..."
"Right," Rena said. "Back in the early 1800s they killed and sold the corpses of their victims tae Dr. Robert Knox, who used them for dissection in his anatomy classes at the University of Edinburgh. Anyway, Dr. Eban tells the story, and his rendition is filled with enough drama for a vampire story. He finishes off the lecture by saying that Burke and Hare probably saved more people than they murdered, considering what their contributions did tae assist medical students. He has a point, but it was still murder, and the way he tells the story ... he's plain creepy. It's a tone he sets for himself early, and it's something he sticks with. That, along with his always-tough attitude, makes him the most talked about, and probably most feared, professor at the medical school."
Mallory added, "Either it's just the way he is, or the impression he wants tae give. And he conducts his classes in a theater that's set up the exact same way Dr. Knox's was, on purpose. There's a plaque about Dr. Knox on the wall outside the door and everything."
"In his office, he's a totally different man, when no one else is looking," Sophie said.
We looked at her as she leaned against the sink. I thought she might say more, but it seemed like she lost her train of thought.
"I could use a cup of coffee," she said a moment later.
"I think that's the best idea of the night," Rena said. "Come on, I saw a table in the back. It's small, but we'll see if we can grab it."
"I'll go order the coffee," Mallory said.
The musicians told the crowd they were taking a break just as we exited the restroom. I followed behind the other three and kept on the lookout for someone creepy as we weaved our way thought the mostly student crowd in the small pub.
I'd met a few students over the past couple of months. Rena and Sophie shared a flat close to the university. Most of the building's residents were medical school students, but not all. It was immediately obvious who the undergrads were. Other than the fact that they looked the youngest, they also usually seemed to be having the most fun.
As we made our way through the crowd I spotted a familiar woman leaning against the bar next to another woman I didn't recognize. The one I recognized lived on the bottom floor of Sophie and Rena's building, and had opened the building's front door for me a few times. She could spot visitors approaching though her window and seemed to feel compelled to let people in.
Though I'd never met Mallory before tonight, she lived in Rena and Sophie's building too, in a flat all her own. She'd already mentioned that she spent most of her time holed up there, studying, and studying some more. In the brief time I'd known her I'd already noticed that she had a quiet calm about her that Sophie and Rena didn't possess. Maybe Mallory just worked harder to hide her stress.
I waved at the woman from the first floor, someone I'd pegged as an undgrad. I thought she was looking my direction, but she didn't wave back. I followed her line of vision and spotted who she must have been watching instead. A handsome man, probably about sixty, stood not far from the edge of the small dance floor. He wore dark pants and a dark peacoat over his tall, thin frame. His short dark hair was slicked back from his high forehead, and though I thought his nose should be hooked to match the rest of him, it wasn't. It was straight and almost regal. He was lazily holding a tumbler half full of liquid.
He didn't see me looking, and neither he nor the young woman noticed that I saw what happened next. Both the man by the dance floor and the woman sent a quick, furtive glance toward a third person, a man who seemed to be in a hurried exit out of the pub. The only features I caught of the third person were a head full of bushy gray hair and the back of a tall body that moved in defiance of the gray hair; strong and sure.
It could have been my imagination or the happenstance of my timing regarding their expressions, but in those brief beats of time, I thought both the man by the dance floor and the woman were concerned about the leaving man, or at least concerned about something. But the moment was over quickly, and I immediately doubted what I thought I'd seen.
As we approached the table Rena had spied, three men were also about to sit there. They sent us smiles of surrender and let us have the chairs.
After we sat, Mallory approached with a tray of four cups of coffee. "Freshly brewed," she said as she placed the cups in front of us one at a time and then leaned the tray against the wall. She angled herself into the tight space that held the last of the four chairs.
"Did you see him?" Sophie asked Rena.
"Yeah, just standing there being creepy," Rena said.
"The tall man in the dark clothes next to the dance floor?" I asked.
"That's him. That's Dr. Eban," Rena said.
"Did you guys see the gray-haired man leaving?" I said.
They all looked toward the door and said they hadn't.
"He must have left," I said, not sure why those brief seconds had made such an impression on me.
Mallory twisted around in her chair so she could see the man by the stage. "That's Dr. Eban, though. He'll probably just stand there all night and ooze horror, just tae set us all off balance. Take away our fun." Her words were ominous, but her tone was somewhat playful.
I looked at Rena.
She shrugged and said, "Believe it or not, that's probably exactly what he's doing. It's a power thing, I think. He likes bothering us."
"He teaches anatomy, huh?" I said.
"Aye," three voices said together.
"Here's the other part," Sophie said. "He's also one of the best teachers on campus. Really good. He's just ... difficult."
"Unrealistic expectations," I said before I sipped the coffee.
It wasn't a question, but the three women looked at each other as if searching for the right answer.
"Yes," Sophie said.
"Sort of," Mallory said.
"I'm not sure they're unrealistic, but they are high. We should have high expectations, though. We're going tae be doctors," Rena said.
I watched for Sophie's reaction to Rena's words, but didn't see disagreement.
My back was to the wall. Since I was sitting in the corner seat, I had the best view of the rest of the pub, and I saw Dr. Eban moving in our direction. His eyes caught mine for an instant, and I knew our table was his destination.
"It looks as if he's headed our direction," I said without moving my lips or remaking eye contact with him.
Despite the instantaneous terror that blanched my tablemates' faces, there was no escape now.
"Ladies," Dr. Eban said as he stepped just a bit too close to the table, causing Mallory and Rena to have to lean sideways. "How are we this evening?"
"Hey, Dr. Eban," Mallory said. "Fancy meeting you here."
"I'm a big fan of the lads' music," Dr. Eban said easily.
"They're very good," Sophie said, working too hard to keep her words from slurring.
"Aye," Rena said.
Excerpted from "Lost Books and Old Bones"
Copyright © 2018 Paige Shelton.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Since feisty Delaney Nichols moved from Kansas to Scotland, her life has been filled with old books and bookish treasures; intrigue and danger. She’s found true love with pub owner Tom, and made great friends with her landlords, Elias and Aggie, and her co-workers, Rosie and Hamlet. Delaney is still carefully feeling her way around her mysterious and wealthy employer, Edwin MacAlister. The morning after Delaney has drinks with some new friends who are medical students at the University of Edinburgh—Sophie, Rena, and their friend, Mallory—The Cracked Spine employees are horrified to find a dead body in the alley behind the shop. Worrisomely, it’s Mallory. As history mingles into current events; the author leads readers through a grisly past filled with tales of witches, murderers, and thieves. The med students are seemingly afraid of one particular professor, a Dr. Eban, who has a fascination with a missing ex-professor’s (Dr. Robert Knox) methods of illegally acquiring corpses for teaching purposes in anatomy classes. Could Dr. Eban be a killer? Joshua, Delaney’s geeky contact at the museum, and Artair, the librarian who’s also Tom’s father, lend their expertise in researching answers. Just as the first two stories in the Scottish Bookshop series were for me; this third story is mesmerizing. Clues are abundant, yet I couldn’t quite put my finger on the right answer, however, when the plot pieces together at the end, I marveled at Ms. Shelton’s ability to pen such a complex manuscript. I enjoyed every page of “Lost Books and Old Bones,” and highly recommend this series beginning with book one. I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC provided by the author and Minotaur Books.
All the books in this series are very well-written. This one doesn't disappoint.
This is the first book in the series of three that I have read, but I was able to follow the story line with no problem. It does mention some past events, but the story can be read as a stand alone without reading the prior two books. After reading this one, I will go back and read the first two. I absolutely loved the history and setting in the book. After visiting Scotland last fall, I was able to revisit the sites I had seen and learn more about the story of Burke and Hare that I had heard about in the dungeons and underground. Now, on to the story. Delaney Nicols works at The Cracked Spine, a bookstore in Edinburgh. She befriends two medical students, Rena and Sopie, and buys a couple of books from them. Little do they know that they are rare and valuable manuscripts. Later that night while socializing at the local pub, she meets another friend Mallory and one of their professors, Dr. Eban. She thinks there is something off about Dr. Eban and there is something that bothers her. After leaving, Delaney meets her boyfriend Tom at the bookstore to show a famous set of scalpels used by an infamous local doctor back in the days of body snatching. After viewing them, locking them in the desk and locking the store, they head home. The next morning when Delaney arrives at work, she finds out that the store was broken into and Mallory is dead in the alley with a skull placed beside the body. A mystery to be solve for sure. I enjoyed this book very much. The setting of a rare bookshop in old Edinburgh, a hidden warehouse where the owner hides/stores rare antiquities and the whole medical school link made the story feel a bit spooky without being too creepy. Delaney is an intelligent main character, who makes friends easily and is nice and friendly. She is also perseverant and does not give up easily. Along with Delaney there are all the quirky secondary characters, most of them working at the university and the bookstore. Tom, Delaney's boyfriend is her sounding board and helps her solve the mystery, even with all the red herrings. I was completely surprised by the ending and the big reveal, but it was realistic and in hindsight, the clues were there. A lot of history is told throughout the story that made it even more interesting for me. The publisher, St. Martin's Press, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The opinions stated are my own.
This was my first foray into this series, although I have read other books by this author and let me tell you it was a delightful read. Delaney is out with some friends from the local medical school and is having a blast but one of the girls is acting weird and she doesn't know what to make of it. When the evening comes to an end Delaney and Rena head out, Rena says something cryptic that worries Delaney but there isn't much she can do if the girl won't tell her more. The next morning she receives a call, while enjoying breakfast with her boyfriend Tom, from the bookstore. They rush to The Cracked Spine to find police all over the place, a body has been found and it ends up being one of her new friends but not the one she thought it would be. Why was she at the bookstore and who would want to kill such a vibrant young woman? Follow along as Delaney hunts down clues to help her figure out who the killer could be. Will the secret room remain a secret now that the police know about it? Did one of the other medical students have something to with the girls death and why are they acting funny? Could it have something to do with the weird professor and his interest in an old serial killer? There are so many avenues to look down which made for a fantastic read and a fabulous whodunit. The author manages to weave together a mystery that will have you guessing the whole way through which leaves me excited about going back to the beginning and taking in all that has happened before not to mention what happens next.
Dollycas Thoughts Delaney Nichols is feeling more at home in Edinburgh. She has fallen in love, made new friends and is feeling confident about her job at The Cracked Spine. Her friends are all in medical school and recently brought a box of medical books into the shop hoping to sell them quickly. The owner of The Cracked Spine, Edwin MacAlister, buys them thinking they very rare. Delaney and her friends have an unusual night out in a pub where Delaney meets one of their professors. Her friends tell her the man is “odd” and Delaney has to agree, he is definitely hiding something and maybe her friends are hiding something too. Then the next day she learns one of her friends was murdered behind her store. She is questioned by the police and feels there is much more to the story behind the young woman’s death. She starts doing some investigating on her own. Items in her very own research area could play a major part in helping her solve the case. This is a complex mystery with many facets that all twist together to solve and help make sense of what led to a young woman’s death. It also has its share of eerie moments. So fitting for a story set in a shop full of curiosities, I loved how history and historical items are what really drove this story. Delaney is a fabulous protagonist. She has a curious nature and loves to do research, exactly what she needs to sleuth out the truth. I loved her trips to the university, library, and museum to try to find the answers she needed. It was so much fun to tag along as she made each new connection or discovery. I also enjoy the way her relationship with pub owner Tom is evolving. She also has an extraordinary group of people around to support her. Her boss, coworkers, and landlords have really become her Scotland family. Ms. Shelton does an excellent job of storytelling. She whisks us away to Scotland with such ease. I have never been there but her words make it very easy to imagine each and every place her words take us. I have completely escaped into all three books in this series. They can all stand alone but I recommend you read them all in order so you can see Delaney’s growth from her arrival from Kansas to her life now in Scotland, plus the stories are fantastic reads.
Delaney Nicohols is an American (from Kansas), who is currently living and working in Scotland. She works at an unusual bookstore which is filled with interesting items, most of which are hidden away in the “warehouse” for the use of the owner, Edwin MacAlister. In this story, Delaney is just making friends with some women who are in medical school. When one of them turns up murdered the morning after they all had a get-together and the murder occurs in the alleyway just behind the bookstore, Delaney finds herself involved in solving the murder. I’ve read the first book in this series and somehow missed the second one. I was able to pick up the third without really missing a step but I will want to purchase the in-between volume because I enjoy the writer’s style so much. Many cozy mysteries are a tad cute. That is not the case with this series. The people all talk and behave as if they were individuals you could meet on the street. Except, of course, that Delaney sometimes hears what she calls “bookish voices” in her head. The voices are really bits from books she has read in the past which work with her intuition to give her clues to solving the whodunnit. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both books I have read in the series and recommend it to anyone looking for a mystery which is personable and which has layers of plots to make solving the whodunnit a fun mental task. I was provided a digital advance reader copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley.
This was the best one yet!!! I am in love with everything that happened and how Paige played it all out. It was amazing and I'm chomping at the bit for another one! The Burke and Hare history in this book sucked me in the moment I read it and kept my attention the entire time. I can't rave about this series and especially this installment enough! It's perfect! A must read for any mystery lover! So excited for Delaney and Tom! My heart is still beating fast from reading the end of this book!
Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton was a pure delight to read. Ms. Shelton never fails to intrigue me with her research of Scotland's rich heritage. This time it involves the University of Edinburgh's medical college and it was fascinating. Delaney has settled into her new life and may have found the love of her life in Tom. Delaney and Tom's relationship is so open and supportive as Delaney tries to help solve the mysteries that seem to find her wherever she goes. I love The Cracked Spine bookshop! Rosie, Hamlet, Edwin, Elias, Aggie and Tom are so well developed that I feel like I would recognize them on a street in Edinburgh if I were to visit. Ms. Shelton's descriptive writing always makes me feel like I am present as Delaney travels throughout the city; and her research of Scottish history enlightens me with every book. The mystery is complex, the suspects are multi-layered and the twists kept me guessing until the reveal. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Minotaur Books via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own. I would like to sincerely thank Minotaur Books for allowing me to read and review the book.
A wee bit of Scottish intrigue Paige Shelton did a good job in establishing the mood in this the 3rd book in A Scottish Bookshop Mystery series. The references to the Burke & Hare story helped the feeling of authenticity about the past and the current murder. There were twists and turns that keeps the reader engrossed in the story. Delaney and Tom were a great couple and their relationship gave addition layers to the story. I received an advance reader copy from Netgalley.
Paige Shelton, has written a charming premise with her character, Delaney, who works for The Cracked Spine. This bookstore specializes in rare books and manuscripts. Set in Edinburgh, I loved the fact that it started out with the moody background of Scotland and lots of artifacts. Sophie and Rena, came into the shop to sell, "an Atlas of Illustrations of Clinical Medicine, Surgery and Pathology" made up of 25 books which are very rare. I, along with Edwin, Delaney's boss, would have had eyes filled with tears at the hand- drawn illustrations. I just wish I had cataloged them at an Archives. Although graphic, they are an amazing example of medical knowledge at the time of the Industrial Revolution. Several months later...Sophie, Rena, Delaney and Mallory are four girls on the town enjoying the group, "The Mad Ferret" until Sophie and Rena see Dr. Eban of their Medical School. He is one of the fascinating Professors they have, but slightly eerie in his thirst for Robert Knox, who bought murdered corpses from Knox and Hare. These two were famous killers during the early 1800's. The Medical Students, have a service for the Corpses they work on, and it is held at Greyfriar's Kirk. Dr. Eban invites all of them to the funeral. He makes it clear that he is fascinated with Edwin's Secret Room, the place where he keeps all his treasures. In fact, he is interested in the scalpel of Dr Knox- which disconcerts Delaney. She is used to denying that the room exists to protect the valuable holdings. But not everyone believes her. Delaney has a boyfriend who is the proprietor of Delaney's Wee Pub. The sign and her name- she thought was meant to be. Tom met her at The Cracked Spine that night, so that she can look for the scalpel. Her boyfriend of ten months is the romantic interest in the series. The relationship between them is strained by a Reporter hot on the trail of a story, which adds some tension to the plot because of the prior dating of her and Tom. A murder is discovered. Has it been brought on by the mystery of "The Dark Side," which is aptly protected by a red door? This, of course, houses Edwin's wonderful finds that he keeps for himself. Odd how a myth has spread and everyone is interested in and determined to see it. Is the killer? So began a multi-faceted mystery with lots to recommend it. I will certainly be reading more of this series and enjoyed the addition of the Hare and Burke murders. Everyone has secrets and that is how I like my mysteries. My thanks to Netgalley and Minotaur .
Lost Books And Old Bones is the third book in the A Scottish Bookshop Mystery series. Delaney is adjusting well to the move to Edinburgh, Scotland. Like the other two books, Delaney is involved in a mystery that is skillfully written around a historical event that occurred in Edinburgh, the infamous body snatchers, William Burke and William Hare. Delaney has struck up an acquaintance with Mallory, Rena, and Sophie at a pub listening to a local band and enjoying a few drinks. As the evening goes on Sophie and Rena point out Dr. Eban, a professor at Edinburgh School of Medicine, who is also at the pub. Then Eban stops by the ladies table and is introduced to Delaney. When he finds out that she works at The Cracked Spine and asks if the owner, Edwin MacAlister, really has any scalpels owned by Dr. Knox who was involved with Burke and Hare. After leaving the pub, Delaney meets her boyfriend, Tom, at The Cracked Spine to look in the “secret room” to see if Dr. Knox’s scalpels are in fact there. A set of scalpels are found that definitely could have belonged to Knox. The next morning when Delaney arrives at work she senses that something is not right and soon finds out that Rosie and Hamlet have found the body of Mallory in the alleyway next to The Cracked Spine. It appears that she might have been trying to break into The Cracked Spine. This poses the question: who killed Mallory and why was she in the alley? As Delaney begins to investigate who might have killed Mallory, she needs to learn more about Mallory’s friends, Rena and Sophie, as she feels they aren’t sharing everything they know of Mallory. She needs to check up on Dr. Eban who is reportedly a womanizer and is suspected of having had an affair with the victim. Also coming up on Delaney’s radar is Mr. Glenn, who held himself out to be a doctor, but in fact had no medical training. Glenn had been accused of killing a number of patients and his wife before he disappeared. She needs to find out if he is still in the area might be trying to put the blame on those he used to work with. She also needs to take a look at others, too. Another well-plotted and told story in this interesting series. Most all of the main characters are back once again to help Delaney sort through the tangled webs. I will definitely be watching for the next book in this great series