A Wee Murder in My Shop
Book 1 in the ScotShop Mystery series
by Fran Stewart
Narrated by Tanya Eby
Audiobook published by Tantor Audio: Publication date Jun 30, 2015 | Running time 9 hrs
How would a mid-fourteenth century Scottish Highland ghost fare in 21st century Vermont. It’s hard to imagine there being any common ground once you remove the basics. But, if you add in the renowned nobility of the Scottish Highlander: the sense of duty and honor, then you have all those non-physical qualities that continue to make us human.
After discovering her childhood friend in bed with her almost-fiance, Vermont store owner, Peggy has gone to Scotland on a buying trip where she comes into the possession of a mysterious shawl haunted by the long dead maker’s true love. The ghost is securely attached to that shawl even back in Vermont where the next morning they discover the body of the ex-boyfriend dead on the floor. The rest of the story introduces Peggy’s friends, family and shop as she and the ghost, with some help from the police, work through the mystery.
The story seems well researched, and there is a lot of detail, maybe too much detail, given in both those researched bits and the modern day surroundings. In a mystery, a lot of detail is important as we solve the mystery along with the characters. You never know wherein the details the most vital clue might lie.
There are some GREAT twists in this story, as well as some unique characters and set-ups. Ugh! Peggy has absolutely no positive feeling for her mother. If she is not the victim or the suspected perp in the next book I will be surprised.
It is through one of these twists that the solution is telegraphed; a kind of murderer ex-machina.
I found the constant need for the ghost to ask questions about the changes in the world over the top and tedious. Also the changing nature of his relationship to physical objects was confusing. Some other people and animals could see him when they touch the shawl, others no. He could touch some things if the shawl was near and Peggy had imbued them with her whatever, but not others.
As is the standard in wee ghostie books, stick the man in front of the TV and change the channel every few hours. That way the point that language and customs have changed in the 650+/- years won’t be belabored. It gets old after the first couple “Where are the horses?” And the device of her seeming to talk to herself, or trying to code an answer within the context of a conversation she is having with others became troubling as well.
We see the beginning of a very, very strange love triangle beginning that I imagine will develop in future volumes. I like that everyone seems confused by their developing feelings.
I do respect that she devised a host much earlier than the Jacobites. There’s so much of that out already, especially right now.
I do find the Scottie dog on the print and audio covers appropriate for obvious cultural and symbolic reasons, but inappropriate within the context of the shop owner’s actual pet which is a cat. Humph!!
If you like light, cozy but grisly, mysteries with a paranormal component then you might like this short listen or read.