QNPoohBear's Reviews > The Cracked Spine

The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton
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bookshelves: clean-romance, cozy-mystery, kisses-only

Delaney Nichols from Kansas (in America) packs up everything and moves to Edinburgh, Scotland when she loses her museum job due to budget cuts. Delaney takes a job at a bookstore-not just any bookstore- but one with a desk that has seen kings and queens and paupers and princes! The adventure is greater than any she's ever had- unless you count adventures lost in the pages of books. Delaney is a reader. Not just any reader, a discerning reader who hears the voices of "bookish" people inside her head. In Edinburgh, Delaney finds more than she bargained for in Edinburgh, from a kind, fatherly cab driver driving on the "wrong" side of the road (for us Yanks anyway) to The Crooked Spine. Her boss, Edwin MacAlister, is a collector of rare books, manuscripts, prints, maps and ephemera -right up Delaney's alley- and he is also the absent-minded professor type. Delaney loves the quaint shop and her new co-workers, Hamlet, a teenage thespian and Rosie, an older woman with an adorable pooch named Hector. When Edwin's sister Jenny is murdered, it throws the shop into a tailspin. Everyone knew Jenny and her drug problem, including Edwin's wealthy book collector friends. It's rumored Edwin left Jenny in possession of a rare Shakespeare First Folio but it seems to be missing and since the provenance is a bit murky, Edwin declines to tell the police about it. Delaney can't allow that priceless artifact to stay missing, but more importantly, when Hamlet becomes a suspect, Delaney can't allow any of her new family to get hurt. She must puzzle out the clues on her own to spare Edwin's feelings but somehow hint to the police how they should do their job. Is she up for the task?

First, let me say how much I LOVE The Cracked Spine. I probably wouldn't be brave enough to move across the ocean to Edinburgh to work there, but it's my kind of place. I want to move in!! Obviously, I can see why Delaney jumped at the chance to work there, except the job ad was a bit vague and she never did find out what her duties were supposed to be. I just love the idea of being around all those rare items!

The mystery was so intriguing, I couldn't put the book down. I read very late on a work night and picked the book up again when I came home the next day. I wasn't entirely surprised by who and why. The setting is amazing. I felt like I was right there in Edinburgh with Delaney, seeing and experiencing everything new and wonderful and strange for the first time. I fell in love with the architecture and history just as Delaney did.

I loved the quirky characters in the story too but find this story is not quite cozy enough for me. I didn't like how the mystery centered around Jenny, a 50-something (former or habitual?) drug addict. That made it a little more gritty than I would have liked but the store is so charming, I'd love to read more mysteries set there if they center around the shop more than some random person Delaney has never met.

My education and career path has been so similar to Delaney's and my heart broke the museum and for Delaney when her museum budget got cut, but everything happens for a reason and this job was meant to be. I was surprised, and initially skeptical, about Delaney's bookish voices, but the more I thought about it, the more amazing it sounded until I wished I had that gift. I certainly imagine how characters would think and act but it's not the same thing. It makes her quirky for sure but that's what makes her an appealing heroine. She does kind of lose points with me for doing everything by gut instinct and for investigating the mystery, almost to her peril. She is intelligent, more than most cozy mystery heroines and is good at logic and puzzles which lead her straight to the killer, of course.

Everyone in Edinburgh seems so nice and friendly. I love Elias, the cab driver, though his wife Aggie is a bit too involved in Delaney's life like a mother. Elias and Aggie are warm and friendly and are so kind to Delaney. Edwin is a bit of a mystery. He's many things to many people. Edwin is absentminded, a bit naive and crazy rich. His friends are crazy rich too and no one seems to realize it, which makes Edwin appealing. He just is rich and that's it. He spends his money on his collections and that's enough to make me want to be his friend!

I liked the aptly named Hamlet right away. I was surprised about his checkered past because he didn't seem like a juvenile delinquent. His story shows another side of Edwin that people don't often see, which is nice. I did not want Hamlet to be a murderer or a victim because I liked him so much. I wasn't crazy about Rosie. She's hard to read and could be a drama queen. I loved her little dog and poor Delaney needed to cuddle with Hector quite a bit. I hope he visits her after the events of the end of the novel.

The final quirky character is Tom, the sexy bartender who looks good in a kilt. I didn't like the attraction at first sight plot device and Tom's backstory is told all at once making him less mysterious. He seems like a nice man and he says he's attracted to Delaney's outspokenness so I suppose I support the relationship.

I will, of course, be reading book 1.5 and any others that follow, mainly to see what treasures Delaney unearths and to figure out Edwin's own unique cataloging system.
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Reading Progress

March 18, 2016 – Shelved
March 18, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
March 23, 2017 – Started Reading
March 24, 2017 – Shelved as: clean-romance
March 24, 2017 – Shelved as: cozy-mystery
March 24, 2017 – Shelved as: kisses-only
March 24, 2017 – Finished Reading

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