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THE BURNING PAGES
by Paige Shelton
Minotaur, April 2022
304 pages
$29.99
ISBN: 1250789486


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Delaney Nichols and Hamlet, her co-worker at the Cracked Spine, attend a Burns Night dinner at the Burns House to celebrate Scottish poet Robert Burns. Apparently. Delaney's invitation is an effort to begin reconnection between her boss Edwin and a member of the Burns Society, Malcolm Campbell. Unfortunately, Malcolm believes that Edwin set fire to his bookstore when it burned over twenty years ago. After Delaney and Hamlet leave Burns House, police find a body in the house when it burns down.

Police interview Delaney and Hamlet along with the other attendees at the dinner, who include: Clarinda Creston, a local barrister; Charles Lexon, a businessman with an import/export company; Malcolm Campbell, who is rebuilding his bookstore; and they identify the dead body as Neil Watterton, a librarian at the National Library, who also attended the dinner.

Along with the murder and arson investigation, Delaney is also chasing another mystery. She finds a birth certificate for Hamlet under his real name, Edwin, his mother's name Dora Strangelove, and his father, M. Edison, when searching through her boss' files. According to Rosie, their boss took Hamlet, who had been "a vagrant, living on the streets, under his wing, made sure he had a place to stay, food to eat, clothes, and now he was at the university, about to graduate." However, no one seems to know what happened to result in Hamlet becoming homeless as a child. But Delaney happens upon a sign, Strangelove, Your Fortune Teller, and goes inside to ask about Dora Strangelove and is surprised at the answers she receives.

Paige Shelton manages to weave these two plot threads into a complex and intriguing mystery while paying homage to Robert Burns. And Hamlet becomes a critical lynchpin between the two plotlines as police identify him as a suspect in the murder of Watterton and Burns House arson. At the same time, Delaney uncovers a link between Hamlet's background and a motive for murder. As usual, Shelton organizes a captivating story and tells it at a suspense-driven pace while bringing readers up to date with her cast of familiar Scottish Bookshop characters.

Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton's, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, April 2022

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