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FATEFUL WORDS - Paige Shelton
A Scottish Bookshop Mystery
Minotaur Books
April 2023

Edinburgh, Scotland - Present Day

Delaney Nichols, an American living and working in Edinburgh, is employed by well known book seller Edwin MacAlister at his Cracked Spine bookshop. Her main work is to catalog Edwin's vast collection of artifacts that are stored in a warehouse attached to the bookshop. But with Edwin's sudden departure to London with Hamlet, another store employee, Delaney is tasked with leading the annual literary tour that is popular with readers around the world. With the help of fellow shop worker, Rosie, Delaney prepares to meet the four people gathered in Edinburgh, hoping, of course, that they aren't too disappointed that Edwin isn't guiding them. Delaney's husband, Tom, who owns a nearby pub has offered to help, as he is a native of Edinburgh.

While saddened that they can't meet Edwin, the four tour members, winners specifically chosen by Edwin, are ready for Delaney to start the event. They are from various parts of the world. Meera Murphy is from Ireland, Kevin Moore (Kevin is a woman!) is a bookstore owner from London, Gunter, who has corresponded with Edwin for many years, is German, and from Australia is Luka, who was hoping that Edwin would convince him to become a reader of the books Edwin sells and loves. The only thing that makes Delaney feel more empowered is the fact that Edinburgh is such a fascinating city, and she hopes that all will be forgiven by discovering that. 

All of the guests are staying at the Green Inn, located just steps from the Cracked Spine, and Tom's pub. As Delaney enters the inn to collect her clients, she hears some angry discussion in the room behind the front desk. The manager appears with a woman, both obviously upset, and Geoff, the manager informs Delaney that Edwin's credit card was refused, and that the guests would have to find another place to stay. Delaney quickly pays with her own card, surprised as Edwin is a very wealthy man. She later has dinner with the guests at a local fish and chip spot, and afterwards, Meera informs her that she's going to head up to the Royal Mile instead of walking with the group. As they head out, Delaney sees a figure in black, wearing a black mask, run out of the inn, and the woman clerk staggers out and collapses. Shortly afterwards, there are screams from up the street. Someone has apparently jumped off the roof of the inn!

So begins the latest in the fascinating Scottish Bookshop Mysteries. There are plenty of red herrings along the way as Delaney discovers clues, and reports them to the local police, whom she's worked with in the past. When one of the tour group members  disappears, Delaney is even more puzzled, but also concerned as these people were invited to Edinburgh by her boss! And just why the sudden departure of Edwin? 

Situated in a beautiful city, FATEFUL WORDS is both a mystery and a delightful tour of Edinburgh. The characters are realistic, some more complicated than others, and readers will never guess who the culprit is. 

Jani Brooks 

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