Lost Books and Old Bones
Scottish Bookshop Mystery #3
By Paige Shelton
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
A delightful new mystery featuring bookseller and amateur sleuth Delaney Nichols, set in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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. She’s recently befriended a few medical school students after they came into the shop to sell some antique medical tomes. But when one of the students’ friends is found murdered outside in the alley, Delaney takes it upon herself to help bring the murderer to justice.
During her investigation, Delaney finds some old scalpels in the bookshop’s warehouse—she finds out that they belonged to a long-dead doctor, whose story 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 danger herself. (From Goodreads)
It is so good to be back in Edinburgh with Delaney, who has lived there for about a year since leaving Kansas! She answered a compelling ad for a special position at a unique bookshop, The Cracked Spine. Again I am impressed by the depth research of history and antiquities in this beautiful setting, the intriguing, well-written mystery, and the characters who make it the great series it is. Lost Books and Old Bones, third in the series, can be read as a standalone. It is also the best to date, but don’t miss the first two!
Delaney’s new friends, Rena and Sophie, attend med school at University of Edinburgh. They met at the bookstore when Rena sold a collection of rare medical books to help pay for her school. They are at a pub on a Friday night after a particularly challenging exam. Mallory, a friend of Rena and Sophie, joins them, and they have a good time until their prof shows up at the pub. Slipping out, Mallory and Sophie leave, then Rena has an odd, fear-tinged request for Delaney: If anything happens to Rena, would she watch over Sophie? She was also concerned that Sophie might be in too deep with Dr. Eban – meaning what? After their plan to have a fun evening, things quickly turned too serious.
The following morning brought terrible news. Hamlet, the student who works at the Cracked Spine, arriving at work at the same time as Rosie, a long-term employee of the bookshop, found the front door unlocked and the body of a young woman in the alley. It was Mallory, and a human skull is next to her body.
Delaney does not want to get involved in another police investigation, but she simply can’t keep from asking questions. Delaney’s boyfriend Tom assists in getting an attorney for Delaney when she meets with police, simply because she very briefly knew the deceased and was out with her and their mutual friends the evening before. The author introduces a labyrinthe of unusual clues and red herrings that lead from the legendary Dr. Robert Knox from the 1800’s to Dr. Jack Glenn, alleged murderer missing more than a decade. This time, Delaney’s “bookish voices” are less than forthcoming with hints of who to beware of.
Delaney is a sleuth that I enjoy, and hope to follow through many new adventures! She is so three-dimensional that I could almost see her to step off the pages, along with her boyfriend, Tom, owner of Delaney’s Wee Pub (not named after her). She is the first woman he has dated for any length of time, which rankles Bridget, a thwarted girlfriend from their university days, now a local journalist looking for a big scoop. There is an eclectic group of characters, many of whom are not who they seem to be. All are defined well, most are very likable.
The mystery this time focuses on Delaney’s friends outside the book shop rather than the people associated with The Cracked Spine or its owner, Edwin. I did, however, miss seeing her landlord, Elias, and his wife, Aggie, more prominent in earlier novels. They became fast friends when Delaney moved across the pond, and Elias has been a great tour guide and sleuthing helper. The mystery is stunning; there are perfect red herrings and a fabulous mix of past and present meeting in the halls of medical and historical knowledge. The author’s knowledge of Scotland is impressive, showing Delaney and her med school friends to be brilliant and – at least for Delaney – able to read the clues and change course when necessary. Finding the real bad guy/ gal was a real challenge, and I was surprised to see who it really was. While I had slight suspicion of the person, it wasn’t someone seriously considered. I highly recommend Lost Books and Old Bones – as well as the rest of the series – to cozy mystery lovers who appreciate bookshops and libraries, universities and museums, Scotland, and one of the more intelligent, contemporary sleuths in the British Isles.