by Janet Marsh
from the Highland Bookshop Mysteries, by Molly MacRae
On top of everything else that’s happened recently, we found a whisky carton on our doorstep at Yon Bonnie Books this morning. Everything else, of course, includes yesterday morning when I found Malcolm Murray dead along the burn below the Beaton Bridge. Please don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean to suggest the mystery of the box is in any way equivalent to the tragedy of Malcolm’s death. Have you heard the latest news about that? The police say it wasn’t an accident.
The box, though, is one more thing to deal with, one more frustrating thing. We don’t know who left it, you see, and it isn’t full of bottles of whisky. It’s full of old books. Some of them quiet old. Some of them quite nice. As a rule, we don’t trade in used books, but we make occasional exceptions. Here, I’ll show you a few of them we found in the box.
|The Little Minister by James M. Barrie - you might be more familiar with his Peter Pan.|
|Have you ever heard of the Bell Rock Lighthouse? It's the world's oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse. Robert Louis Stevenson's grandfather built it.|
|Quite fragile, but still a sweet copy of this 1895 book by Ian Maclaren - a wonderful example of the Kailyard School of Scottish Fiction, extremely popular around the turn of the last century.|
|An adorable little edition of Kidnapped. Smaller than a modern mass market paperback, leather bound with gilt embellishments—thistles all down the spine. Constable Hobbs has his eye on this one, but I might want it myself.|
I’ll look through the books more carefully and see if I can find any clues about where they came from – names, a stray piece of paper used as a serendipitous bookmark, notes. The oldest book in the box, The Complete Herbal by Nicholas Culpeper, M.D., offers some hope along those lines. It’s an 1850 edition, and judging from the number of stained pages and notes scribbled in the margins, it’s passed through generations of grateful hands searching for relief from troubling symptoms. The book has troubles of its own, though. It looks like someone kept something tucked between some of the pages. Something thick enough to leave an impression, thick enough to split the text block. I wonder what that was?
Does it matter where the books came from? Maybe not. Especially if we don’t end up hip-deep in more anonymous boxes of books. Even so, there’s something not quite right about the books in this box and I can’t help thinking we might be sorry they landed on our doorstep.
Season's Readings Giveaway!
Our author found her own box of fun on the doorstep yesterday - audio editions of Plaid and Plagiarism and Scones and Scoundrels (books 1 and 2 in the Highland Bookshop Mystery series) and Crewel and Unusual (book six in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery series).
Would you like one? Then comment here for your chance to win!
With your comment, tell me which audio book you'd like, your first name, and remember to include an email address.
Contest open until midnight 11/25. Winners will be notified on 11/26.
Publishers Weekly calls the book enjoyable and says "Well-drawn characters enhance the story line. Armchair travelers will have fun."
Thistles and Thieves comes out January 7, 2020, and is available for pre-order now.
Molly MacRae writes the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest, on her website, or connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.