Plaid and Plagiarism: The Highland Bookshop Mystery Series: Book 1
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A murder in a garden turns the four new owners of Yon Bonnie Books into amateur detectives, in a captivating new cozy mystery novel from Molly MacRae.
Set in the weeks before the annual Inversgail Literature Festival in Scotland, Plaid and Plagiarism begins on a morning shortly after the four women take possession of their bookshop in the Highlands. Unfortunately, the move to Inversgail hasn’t gone as smoothly as they’d planned.
First, Janet Marsh is told she’ll have to wait before moving into her new home. Then she finds out the house has been vandalized. Again. The chief suspect? Una Graham, an advice columnist for the local paper—who’s trying to make a name for herself as an investigative reporter. When Janet and her business partners go looking for clues at the house, they find a body—it’s Una, in the garden shed, with a sickle in her neck. Janet never did like that garden shed.
Who wanted Una dead? After discovering a cache of nasty letters, Janet and her friends are beginning to wonder who didn’t, including Janet’s ex-husband. Surrounded by a cast of characters with whom readers will fall in love, the new owners of Yon Bonnie Books set out to solve Una’s murder so they can get back to business.
A delightful and deadly new novel about recognizing one’s strengths and weakness—while also trying to open a new book shop—Plaid and Plagiarism is the start of an entertaining new Scottish mystery series.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
First book in a new series!
Plaid and Plagiarism by Molly MacRae is the first book The Highland Bookshop Mystery series. Janet Marsh has just bought Yon Bonnie Books in Inversgail, Scotland along with Christine Robertson (Janet’s best friend), Natalie “Tallie” Marsh (Janet’s daughter), and Summer Jacobs (Tallie’s friend and college roommate). Janet has been divorced almost five years from Curtis (she calls him The Rat). The four of them were ready for a change (especially Janet). They have plans to add a tearoom to be called Cakes and Tales and a B&B above the shop that they will call Bedtime Stories. Janet is anxious to get settled into her home (she received the house in the divorce settlement), but her estate agent, Jess stated it would be two more days (no other details). When Janet and Christine go to investigate, they find Jess in the kitchen which is full of garbage (and it reeks). Jess is less than forthcoming on why the kitchen contains garbage. The four ladies return that evening to explore the house further (make sure the rest of the house is in good condition). The check the shed in the garden and find the body of agony aunt, Una Graham with a sickle in her neck. Una had interviewed them earlier in the day for an article for the Inversgail Guardian. The four women started their investigation before the constable arrives on the scene. The four women combine their skills (reporter, librarian, social worker, and lawyer) and delve into their investigation. Will these amateur sleuths be able to bag the culprit?
I enjoy cozy mysteries because I get a mystery with a softer approach. I found Plaid and Plagiarism to have too much of the cozy factor. We have a charming Scottish town with a variety of gossipy, quirky characters. There are Gaelic words and phrases sprinkled judiciously throughout the story (did you know a bothy is a cottage). The book is nicely written (as are all of Molly MacRae’s books), but I found the pace to be a little slow (and the book is too long). I felt that there were too many characters, and it is very difficult to keep them all straight. It is hard enough remembering the four main characters (which is three too many). The story is told from Janet’s point-of-view so we get frequent mentions of her ex-husband and how he destroyed their marriage (do not forget that she calls him The Rat more often than be his name, Curtis). This group also visits Paudel’s Newsagent, Post Office and Convenience (that is the whole name) frequently. In addition, we get chats with the owner as well as food and candy descriptions (they seem to eat sweets quite a bit). I give Plaid and Plagiarism 3 out of 5 stars. I think the book needed a little less of the quirky factor. There is the little old lady that sits in Yon Bonnie Books, reading their knitting books, and knitting (she knits little Nessie’s). They have no clue who she is and they can barely understand her (this is just one example). The mystery was interesting (just not enough of it), but I was disappointed with the way it was handled. The ladies set up a document (in the cloud) that they keep track of the details of their investigation (which they review a few times). I prefer to solve the mystery myself. That is the best part of a cozy mystery. I figured out the killer early in the book, but I believe most readers will be surprised by the culprit’s identity. I felt that the author tried to put too much in one book. The idea for the series has potential. I just felt that the book needed a little trimming and refining.