Barbara's Reviews > The Cracked Spine

The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton
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did not like it
bookshelves: 2018-reads, books-about-bookstores, cozy-mystery, scotland

I'm not really a fan of cozies, and much less those written by Americans and set in Scotland and Ireland. It's a sales gimmick, because writers know American readers like books set in those places. This author decided to write a series set in Scotland, knowing next to nothing about the country. Then she made one trip there. As much as this sets this book up to be unsatisfactory, it was the plot and character development that did it in.

The plot was flimsy and hard to follow. A wealthy antiquarian bookstore owner hires a young American from Kansas to work for him. Why? Scotland must have plenty of qualified people to do the work he needed. This book was published in 2016, 400 years since the death of Shakespeare, and the year the First Folio toured the US. This plot has the bookstore owner discovering a copy of the First Folio that disappears. Really? Then there's a murder. But the details of who the suspects are unconvincing, and the idea that this young woman from Kansas is investigating the disappearance of the folio and the murder is completely ludicrous.

Because it's a cozy, there has to be a romance. A handsome man in a kilt is immediately smitten by the young American woman. Why? Nothing about her leads the reader to expect his infatuation. It's not as though American tourists and visitors are scarce on the ground.

I raced through the second half of this book just to get done, and I won't be reading more of this series. With a plot this weakly constructed, and characters who are very flat, it didn't really matter that the author knows almost nothing about Scotland. She really doesn't know how to build a good story.
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Reading Progress

May 1, 2016 – Shelved
May 1, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
April 14, 2018 – Started Reading
April 15, 2018 –
page 162
53.29%
April 15, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018-reads
April 15, 2018 – Shelved as: books-about-bookstores
April 15, 2018 – Shelved as: cozy-mystery
April 15, 2018 – Shelved as: scotland
April 15, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Peter (new)

Peter I love your unflinching critique.


Barbara Thanks. I didn’t expect to like this because the writer knows next to nothing about Edinburgh and Scotland. But I didn’t expect such a mess of a plot.


message 3: by CatBookMom (new)

CatBookMom Have you read any of the Jean Fairbairn books by Lillian Stewart Carl? She's an IRL friend of Lois McMaster Bujold, but has never gotten quite the same widely-known status. A few of the books now seem to be available at my library's OverDrive collection. Anyway, just a suggestion. Not exactly cozies.


Barbara I think I have the first Jean Fairbairn book on my shelves or I may have donated it to the library. I may try these.


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