First book in “A Scotshop Mystery” series
By Fran Stewart
Berkley Prime Crime
Hoping to leave behind the image of catching her boyfriend, Mason Kilmarty, in bed with her best friend, Andrea, Peggy goes on a shopping trip to Scotland to purchase merchandise for her ScotShop. In Perthshire, at the Sinclair’s Bed & Breakfast she could set aside her frustration for her ex-boyfriend and focus on purchasing Scottish clothing that she knows will sell well. Knowing her too well, the Sinclairs figure out what is bothering Peggy and help soften the emotional blow.
At the end of Atholl Road in Pitlochry’s main shopping street, Peggy is drawn to a quaint shop on a side street bordered by a low wall of stacked stone in between two rowan trees. In this mysterious shop, Peggy finds a beautiful vintage shawl and briefly learns that it had been passed down to the eldest great-granddaughter, but the store owner didn’t have a daughter to pass it down to. She learned that it was saved from a fire that destroyed the village. The women in the store seemed to think the shawl was waiting for Peggy. Unable to pass up this special find, Peggy purchases the Farquharson clan shawl. As she leaves the shop, she feels like walking a mile north of town to Ben y Vrackie, a nearby mountain. Restless, she walks towards a brook and it is there she meets a man “almost palpable, but there was a wavering shimmer around him” and he thought she was his Peigi. He suddenly realizes she is not the woman he loves and wonders why she is on his land. Apparently, he’s from the mid-1300s, which logically made him a ghost. Macbeath came forward when he heard his Peigi call out to him. Both had been dead for seven hundred years so the question is why is he suddenly awakened? Because she could not part with the beautiful vintage shawl, it appeared the ritual of letting go was the only way to free him.
Upon returning home to Hamelin, Vermont, she learns that her ghostly companion did not remain in Scotland because the ritual didn’t work. After a brief discussion about things being very different than they were during his time, she nicknames him Dirk, which means dagger. In addition to his ghostly existence not allowing him to do even the simplest of tasks, he is not allowed to venture too far from her shawl.
Upon returning to her Scotshop with Dirk, Peggy notices that her favorite mannequin and her solid maple bookcase were knocked down along with broken merchandise. She calls Gilda and cousin, Shoe, who work for her, to help pick up the fallen bookcase. It wasn’t something she could do alone and Dirk couldn’t lend a hand. With great effort they manage to stand up the bookcase. To their surprise, underneath it was Peggy’s dead ex-boyfriend. They immediately call the police.
Captain Harper of the Hamelin Police and Police Chief Campbell come to the scene of the accident or crime. Evidence is gathered and an arrest is made, but was the right man arrested? Who killed Mason and why?
A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP is one of those books you never want to end. The reason is simply because you love the characters and it’s difficult to wait for the next book in the series. The storyline is easy to follow, but has its complex resolution. I don’t think it was anything you’d guess right away. The most interesting part of the book is the interaction between Peggy and Dirk. Dirk’s soul awakening without knowledge of his death is frightening and difficult to grasp. When realization raises its confused little head, the questions seem to fly. Dirk not only has to deal with the fact that he isn’t flesh, blood and bone, unable to do anything physical without Peggy’s assistance, but he is also in a future so far removed from what he is accustomed to that it’s alien. But he’s intelligent and curious and has a logical crime-solving mind. That can come in handy because you never know when you need a crime-solving partner.
Four and a half out of five authentic kilts
April 4, 2015