Author Paige Shelton takes many a book lover's dream-- moving to the UK and working in a bookshop-- and weaves it into a first-rate beginning of a new series. Through Delaney, she does an excellent job of portraying an American's culture shock in the ancient city of Edinburgh: driving on the "wrong" side of the road, the narrow streets, the incredibly old buildings everywhere, and the accents and friendliness of the Scottish people.
But the cultural differences aren't the only reason to devour The Cracked Spine. Delaney is an intriguing blend of intelligence and naïveté, and she's surrounded by an excellent secondary cast. The scarf-wearing Rosie with her little dog Hector always in tow. Handsome and charming Tom from across the street. Her landlords Elias and his wife. Detective Inspector Winters. And with all the treasures he's collected in The Cracked Spine's storeroom and his disorganized, mad professorish ways, Edwin MacAlister should be the source for many a future mystery.
Speaking of mysteries, the one in The Cracked Spine is a good'un. I didn't have a clue to the killer's identity, which always gives me a thrill. There were a couple of tiny things that made me raise an eyebrow: Delaney's finding her cottage was a bit too fortuitous, and I didn't quite believe her willingness to investigate Jenny's death, but they in no way ruined my enjoyment of the book. On the contrary-- I can't wait for the next installment!
(My review is from an advance copy of this book.)