The ladies of Molly MacRae’s Highland Book Shoppe series are celebrating their 4- month anniversary as owners and proprietors of Yon Bonnie Books, with its accompanying Cakes and Tales tea room and B&B when the town of Inversgail welcomes its most famous native citizen, the reclusive author Daphne Woods, for a three- month visit in Scones and Scoundrels. But Daphne manages to upset just about everyone in the village before her first week is out.
The night that Daphne arrives, an American hiker gets murdered, and the quartet learns that he spent the night in their B&B four nights earlier. Somehow Daphne has heard that the women solved a murder when they first moved to Inversgail, and she gets it into her head that the women must be investigating the death, and she wants in on the case. Soon the women hear that Daphne has been spreading the word that the five have formed a partnership and are narrowing in on the identity of the murderer. Then, the night after Daphne’s book signing, Janet hears frantic barking coming from the house next door, where Daphne has been staying. The neighborhood converges, along with Norman Hobbes, the local constable, on the house, only for Norman to discover the body of Daphne inside.
With two murders, the town becomes aroused, and the bookshop ladies realize that Daphne’s comments about solving the murder could put them at risk from a murderer afraid they are ready to reveal the shooting. So they start to ask questions and post them in a document in the cloud that each can access. Where so many books can get tedious with characters’ musings over the possibilities of the crime, the way this book has all four women challenging each other to come up with better questions prevents this boredom from occurring. In fact, the questions seem more important than the answers.
This book gripped me from the start and didn’t let me go until the last second was over. I loved the fun and creative plot that kept me drawn to the book. It had so many intricate threads that get woven together so adroitly like a piece of tartan. However, unless you are paying attention, you won’t notice the complexity because the pieces blend so effectively. The conclusion came as a surprise to me and left me with a smile on my face, just what a conclusion should do!
I really love the characters in this book. The four partners in the bookshop, tea room, and bed and breakfast seem to sub in and out for each other seamlessly, showing they truly have become a real team. In addition, the secondary characters have a lot of personality too, and this really adds to the fun of the book. I especially love the bookshop’s assistant, Rab, with his dog, Ranger. When they enter the shop, Ranger goes straight to the fireplace and waits patiently for Rab to put a towel over one of the chairs before jumping up on it to relax while Rab works.
Another feature I really enjoy about this series is the cultural flavor. The book is filled with Gaelic terms, but it is done in such a way that we get a sense of their meaning. We also see the rain in Scotland as the women discuss the list they have made of different Gaelic terms for different styles of rain. We also get a sense of the insularity of Inversgail, where a lot of people do not care for “incomers,” but whether this insularity is a Scottish phenomenon or an issue related to Inversgail’s being a small village is not clear.
I thoroughly loved the performance of Lucy Paterson in the audio edition. She voices the many accents, whether of Americans, a Londoner, a Nepali, and the Scottish, very ably. Her pacing and vocal expressions contribute strongly to the enjoyment of this book.
I really loved listening to Scones and Scoundrels. This book transported me to Scotland and away from the painful realities of life, giving me a lot of pleasure in the process. I highly recommend the book, but I do recommend listening to Plaid and Plagiarism first in order to meet the owners of the book shop and their neighbors. I give this book five stars!
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