Happy Tuesday, all! I am ridiculously, miserably delinquent on reviewing Deadly Editions by Paige Shelton, which is ridiculous since I absolutely love this series! I received this ARC right before publication date and devoured it; I was already finished by the time my pre-order arrived. So, better late than ever, without further ado…
From the Publisher:
A treasure hunt through Edinburgh gives way to a search for a villain terrorizing the city in Deadly Editions, the sixth Scottish Bookshop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Paige Shelton.
It’s a quiet, snowy morning at The Cracked Spine bookshop, when bookseller Delaney Nichols receives a mysterious visitor, a messenger. He presents her with a perplexing note: an invitation to a meeting with eccentric socialite Shelagh O’Conner, who requests Delaney’s participation in an exclusive treasure hunt. Delaney is intrigued, but also cautious: Shelagh, while charming in person, has a reputation for her hijinks as a wealthy young woman in the ’70s. She was even once suspected for the murder of a former boyfriend, though ultimately cleared of all charges.
But Delaney is enticed by the grand prize at the end of the treasure hunt: a highly valuable first edition copy of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson. The winner is also to receive the contents of Shelagh’s vast library, and all participants will earn a large sum of cash.
The night after the first meeting of the treasure hunters, however, several homes in Edinburgh are robbed in a manner reminiscent of Shelagh’s old tricks. And when a man connected to Shelagh is killed, suspicion builds. Except Shelagh herself has disappeared from her home, seemingly kidnapped by the villain.
Terror mounts throughout the city as Delaney attempts to solve the mystery, while trying to evade the killer’s clutches. But it’s hard to know who to trust when around every corner, a new monster could be lurking.
What I Loved:
- The Bookish References. In the Scottish Bookshop Mystery books, there is usually a bookish theme that helps the reader immerse themselves into the mystery. In Deadly Editions, the book in question was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll is one of my favorites, for many of the same reasons Shelaigh loves it: it is a fascinating study of human nature. Shelaigh even goes as far as dressing up as Mr. Hyde to see for herself the different ways she would be treated. What was even better about Deadly Editions was all of the facts that Shelton throws in and how she incorporates them into her characters, like how Robert Louis Stevenson was neighbors with a man who brutally killed his wife after being a mild mannered person, then that man’s great grandson is now Shelaigh’s caretaker. I love the past and the present coming together like this.
- The Treasure Hunt. I have never been particularly good at riddles, but I love reading about other people who are. Birk and Delaney teaming up to solve Shelaigh’s riddle and inherit her book collection was the most fun I’ve had reading in a while. It leads them on a wild chase through some of Edinburgh’s best and most haunted pubs – how can you beat that?! It also creates a great opportunity for Delaney and Bridget the sassy reporter to bond, and it was gratifying to see Delaney with another woman her own age. One thing this series does lack is good female bonds beyond the mothering type.
- The Mystery. What I love about the Scottish Bookshop books is that the murder mysteries are very “Christie-esque” in that the cats of characters is limited to a small group of people per book, there is usually a red herring, and the person you least expect is the killer / kills in a novel way. Some people find this trope to be tired, but I enjoy it so much more because I rarely solve the murder before the end. Deadly Editions was no exception. I didn’t guess the killer or the motive, and it was thrilling to get to the big reveal.
What Didn’t Work for Me:
- The Bookish Voice “Big Reveal.” All her life, Delaney has heard bookish voices in her head that are either a portent to the future or a helpful guide to solving murder mysteries. The first couple of books hinted that it was supernatural, but the series has backed away from that and basically chalked it up to Delaney’s personal brand of intuition. She is so in tune and well read, she harkens to quotes from books she has read. Either way, it caused her quite a bit of problems when she was a child, and is generally a closely held secret. So when Delaney decides to tell Tom, her new husband, about the voices, I was prepared for a certain level of drama. Would he accept her? Will he help her find out the origin of the voices? Instead, Tom is as cool as a cucumber and the matter is just… dropped. I don’t even consider this a spoiler because Shelton treated this reveal as such a non-issue. For dedicated lovers of the series, this is a letdown.
- The Pace. This wasn’t a huge issue for me, but the pacing was frankly all over the place in Deadly Editions. The treasure hunt was well-paced, but then solving the mystery interspersed along with being stalked by the new Monster created some extremely fast moments followed up languishing pages of sipping coffee and chatting about bygone romantic drama. Be prepared to be bored and at the edge of your seat in the course of 10 pages.
Deadly Editions is another delightful edition to the Scottish Bookshop series, and has a proud place on my shelf. For lovers of books, Scotland, and books featuring book people, this series is quintessentially cozy. Four waves out of five! If you haven’t already started the series, I highly recommend picking up book one, The Cracked Spine (available and for sale in paperback on Bookshop!) For diehards who have read them all like me, pick up your copy of Deadly Editions here – you won’t regret having that gorgeous cover on your shelf.