Delaney Nichols, tired of her rather mundane life in Kansas, sees a job listing for a position in Edinburgh, Scotland and picks up her life to move across the world in The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton. Leaving her job as curator of a museum in Kansas, Delaney thinks she is just taking up a job at a rare book shop, but when she arrives, she discovers that The Cracked Spine is much more than just a rare bookshop, but instead, her boss, Edwin MacAlister, collects highly valuable items besides books. On her first day at work, Edwin takes her to a highly secret auction among the Flesh Market Batch, a club for people to bid on highly valuable art, books, and collectibles. The only provenance is a guarantee by Burke, the head of the group. Then Delaney learns that a month earlier, Edwin bought a previously undiscovered first folio of a Shakespeare work, something potentially priceless if genuine. But Edwin has entrusted the folio to Jenny, his sister, who is just getting clean after many years of drug abuse. He did so in the effort to demonstrate to her that he now trusts her. But just the day before, they got into a fight when Edwin wanted the folio, but Jenny refused to give it to him.
Then, when Delaney shows up for her second day of work, her co-worker Rosie informs her and their fellow co-worker, Hamlet, that Edwin has encountered a tragedy. The previous night he went to Jenny’s home, only to find her brutally murdered. Could the manuscript be behind the crime? Edwin has no intention of telling the police about this folio, so that leaves things up to Delaney to locate the missing folio and determine whether it pertains to the murder.
This book provides a great mystery plot and great character development. There are actually about 7 main characters, yet we are able to distinguish among the various ones with clear details because each character seems to be a very real person. I had fun exploring Edinburgh with Delaney, who finds that the people of Scotland use their own terms for many things, almost as another language, especially when they speak fast with their brogues.
Carrington MacDuffe does a remarkable job of performing the audio edition of the book. She does a great job of switching between accents quickly and smoothly. What impresses me is the way that the book describes different characters as having stronger or weaker brogues, and MacDuffe keeps up with all the shifts in accents among the various speakers.
I am glad that I found The Cracked Spine when it was recommended by someone in the Facebook group Cozy Mystery Corner! I really enjoyed getting to experience a different culture than we typically get to visit in our cozy mysteries. I give this book five stars!
To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.