The Loch Ness Papers
Scottish Bookshop Mystery, Book #4
By Paige Shelton
Author Website: paigeshelton(.)com
Bookseller Delaney Nichols befriends a Loch Ness monster enthusiast; when he stands accused of murder she’ll do whatever it takes to learn who the killer is―and whether Nessie herself is really lurking in the Scottish waters.
Delaney Nichols is delighted with her life in Edinburgh, working at The Cracked Spine―a shop that specializes in hard-to-find books and artifacts. With a job she loves, and her fast approaching marriage to devastatingly handsome Scottish pub-owner Tom Shannon, Delaney’s life could be straight out of a fairy tale―at least it would be, if the pastor meant to perform the wedding ceremony hadn’t recently passed away. Outside the church where Delaney is searching for another reverend, she stumbles across Norval Fraser: an elderly man obsessed with the Loch Ness monster. Always attracted to the interesting and unusual, Delaney befriends Norval. But when his nephew is found dead, the police decide Norval’s obsession has moved from monsters to murder.
With a wedding to plan, her family arriving soon from Kansas, and the arrival of an over-the-top Texan with a wildly valuable book, Delaney’s plate is full to bursting, but she can’t abandon her new friend. Determined to help Norval, she sets out to learn the truth. The Loch Ness buries its secrets deeply, but Delaney is determined to dig them up―whether Nessie likes it or not. (Goodreads)
What a fabulous new installment to the Scottish Bookshop Mystery series! Delaney’s life in Scotland is so much more than she dreamed! I love the rare and antique books and more at The Cracked Spine, her store family, and now her fiancé! We also get to know Delaney’s parents and brother who come from their farm in Kansas for her most special day. It will be made even more unique as she befriends an elderly man with an obsession with Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, and her family gets to watch her help solve a murder.
As Delaney and Tom’s wedding day approaches, the clergyman who was going to perform their ceremony was no longer available. Delaney went to meet with Reverend Nisa Bellows to see if she will do the honors. As she walked into the church, she bumped into an older man. After he disappeared, she saw a deck of cards with a Nessie drawing on them in a plastic baggie. She mentions it to Nisa, who agrees to tell her where to see Norval Fraser and deliver the cards to him.
Meeting the sweet, eccentric Norval is fascinating, especially when considering his work about Nessie and attempting to prove her existence. He knows Edwin, owner of the Cracked Spine, and had offered to give Edwin all his research, no charge, with one requirement – that he continue the research Norval spent his life on. As they get to know each other, Delaney learns that Norval believes his father was taken by Nessie because of what occurred when Norval was a young child. Norval saw his Da for the last time at the lake. While it is rumored that his father left his family and started a new one with a young widow, Norval won’t accept it.
Within days of meeting, Norval appeared early at the bookshop when her landlord, Elias, was dropping her off to work. Norval was visibly shaken and believed something happened to his great-nephew, Gavin MacLeod. Elias and Delaney take him to Gavin’s apartment, where Elias finds the younger man murdered. When the police arrive, they determine that Norval is the only real suspect they have because Gavin had been stabbed with a Nessie-handled knife, and the only identifiable fingerprints are Norval’s. Norval might have some mental challenges, but a murderer? Norval pleads for her help to find the proof of his innocence in his apartment, stuffed somewhere among the photos, stacks of papers, and Nessie souvenirs. Delaney, with the help of Edwin, Elias, and Tom, begins to try to prove Norval innocent before he ends up in worse places than the local psychiatric ward. In the meantime, will she find the proof that Nessie is real?
All characters are as well defined as necessary for their roles. Delaney is my favorite – she is a brilliant young woman who learned about researching antiquities when working at a museum in Kansas, experience proven invaluable at the bookshop. She is also a warm, caring person who would do her best to help others in need. Those traits often get her involved in mysteries and murder, and thankfully, the local Inspector now respects her. While he doesn’t always ask for her opinion, he still listens to it. It was great to spend time with Delaney’s family as they are introduced to her Edinburg.
The plot is beautifully planned and executed with a mystery that proves a challenge to solve. Plot twists continued to shuffle who the killer might really be, as well as whether or not Nessie is real. I simply couldn’t figure out who the killer was; the end brought several surprises! I very much enjoyed this cozy mystery because of the characters, subjects, and the inability to know who and why the killer was. I highly recommend it to fans of the author and this series, the ancient setting of Scotland, and those who appreciate well-written cozy mysteries.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*