Here is the newest in the ScotShop mystery series. I reviewed #1 Wee Murder In My Shop (click here), and I was tickled to have the author provide two guest posts (click here), and another post (click here).
Copyright: Jan 2016 (Berkley) 304 pgs
Series: 2nd in ScotShop Mystery series
Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy
Main Characters: Peggy Winn, Owner/Operator of the Scot Shop
Setting: Modern day, Hamelin, Vermont
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
It's the dead of winter when a college microbiology professor is found dead by Hamelin police chief Mac Campbell, who is himself seriously injured in a cross country skiing accident, in a little mountain cabin up the Perth ski trail. Turns out that the murdered professor used to be Peggy's friend's instructor and had become secretive in the last several months. The knee-jerk reaction from recovering Chief Campbell is to arrest the eccentric wife since there was a significant life insurance policy involved. But, as Peggy gets to know the widow, she discovers the widow isn't the ogre students and colleagues thought she was, and realizes she isn't the killer. Peggy still has her fourteenth century highland ghost, Dirk, tagging along with the Scottish shawl he is attached to.
I had a difficult time with this book. Apparently Dirk's near constant harping, nitpicking, condescending, know-it-all, and morally superior attitude throughout is perceived as funny by some readers. The clash between 14th Century Scotland and modern America. But, it just grated on me. What struck me even more was that Peggy would actually blame and shame herself for needing a break from his ongoing harassment. That was the real kicker for me. I have a pet peeve of main characters who don't stand up for themselves with overbearing relatives, but this surpassed even that. So, it wasn't comical to me at all, rather a denial of her feelings having any worth and a subjugation. Plus, she is then attracted to this abusive man. I know, pretty heavy stuff...but there you have my thoughts on the Peggy and Dirk dynamic.
Chief of police Mac Campbell has serious anger management issues and blames as much as he possibly can on Peggy. Policeman Harper is the potential love interest, but he can't communicate for beans in this book and doesn't take any growing relationship seriously enough to make an effort. I am disappointed in this character, not as much as I am in Peggy, though.
The setting of Vermont in winter had my teeth chattering and was quite effective. The way the plot was doled out kept some suspense over what the professor was involved in. The book was light enough to keep the pages turning. There was a good killer reveal that had some delightfully tense moments.
The overbearing attitudes of both Dirk and Mac Campbell have spoiled what would have been a fun and breezy book for me. I personally don't think I will risk reading another. But, I know many don't have the same reaction to Dirk as I do and find lots of humor in the book. Ultimately, only you will know if it is for you.
Ratings: Good - A fun read with minor flaws, good but not stellar. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.