A Wee Murder in My Shop
A Scotshop Mystery #1
By Fran Stewart
Author’s Website: franstewart.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
Hamelin, Vermont, isn’t the most likely place for bagpipes and tartan, but at Peggy Winn’s ScotShop, business is booming…
While on a transatlantic hunt for some authentic wares to sell at her shop, Peggy is looking to forget her troubles by digging through the hidden treasures of the Scottish Highlands. With so many enchanting items on sale, Peggy can’t resist buying a beautiful old tartan shawl. But once she wraps it around her shoulders, she discovers that her purchase comes with a hidden fee: the specter of a fourteenth-century Scotsman.
Unsure if her Highland fling was real or a product of an overactive imagination, Peggy returns home to Vermont—only to find the dead body of her ex-boyfriend on the floor of her shop. When the police chief arrests Peggy’s cousin based on some incriminating evidence, Peggy decides to ask her haunting Scottish companion to help figure out who really committed the crime—before anyone else gets kilt… (Goodreads)
A Wee Murder in My Shop opens with Peggy discovering her boyfriend (almost fiancé) Mason in a compromising position with her best friend Andrea. Though upset about her breakup, she continues with her planned buying trip to Scotland to procure items to sell in her shop. While shopping, she discovers a shawl that she just has to have for herself. The following day, while on a hike with the proprietors of the B&B where she always stays while in town, she dons the shawl and is approached by a somewhat transparent Scotsman that only she can see. Macbeath, whom she quickly rechristens Dirk because she does not like his name, is from the fourteenth century and seems to be attached to the shawl that his wife wove. She attempts to “release” him but finds he has “followed” her home to Vermont. When she returns to her shop, she finds a mess from a heavy bookcase toppling over. She calls in her staff, which includes her cousins Shoe and Sam and Gilda, and they discover Mason’s body beneath the case, bludgeoned with Shoe’s baseball bat and crushed by the case. Feeling there is no way that the case could have fallen over on its own, she, her staff, and Captain Harper, the detective assigned to the case, soon find that there is a safe hidden behind the wall where the case stood and work to first open the safe and then find those responsible for Mason’s death. In the meantime, Shoe is arrested because he owned the murder weapon.
I really wanted to like this fist book in the series, but I came away from it scratching my head a bit. The premise was intriguing, and I looked forward to reading the ghost’s escapades. However, he did not really do much other than ask Peggy questions about what modern things were and follow her around. I found the passages about Peggy having to ignore Dirk because other people were around to be repetitive and eventually uninteresting. I totally get that Dirk is a fish out of water in the twenty-first century, and the situation should have provided plenty of chuckles, but it failed to deliver. I also found it odd that Peggy did not want to call him by his given name (there were several options to choose from), and he did not complain about being called Dirk. This just seemed silly and unnecessary. I expected more involvement in investigating and resolving the mystery but did not feel he did much. There is so much potential where Dirk is concerned.
There were many unanswered questions that I can only hope will be resolved in the next book in the series. Most of them had to do with Gilda – why did she act the way she did? Was she really suffering from migraines? As someone who has migraines, I found Peggy’s attitude about Gilda’s migraine “excuse” somewhat offensive. Again, I can only suppose that this was laying the foundation for the next book. Peggy’s reaction to Mason’s death was much too ambivalent for someone who was supposed to be in such a serious relationship with the deceased. I liked Harper and Drew’s characters quite a bit and hope to see a lot of them in the future. However, I did not really understand why Chief Mac was so obnoxious or why everyone put up with his behavior. The story dragged a bit and was repetitive in the middle, but then the ending and explanation of the crime felt glossed over.
I will definitely give the next book in the Scotshop series a try in hopes that the author irons out some things. I recommend A Wee Murder in My Shop with some reservations to fans of paranormal cozy mysteries and those who love all things Scottish.