Scones and Scoundrels

Janet Marsh and her business partners--daughter Tallie, plus their friends Christine and Summer--take on their second case as amateur sleuths in Molly MacRae's Scones and Scoundrels. After six months of running a bookshop-cum-tearoom in Inversgail, Scotland, Janet (an American transplant) and the others are settling into their new life. Yon Bonnie Books and its adjacent cafe, Cakes and Tales, are thriving, and the women are becoming part of a community. When Daphne Wood, an eccentric author and environmentalist, returns to her hometown as a visiting writer, Janet and Tallie plan a book signing. But despite the village's warm welcome, Daphne puts off nearly everyone with her rude and abrupt manner. And then the murders start happening.

MacRae brings back many of the characters she introduced in Plaid and Plagiarism, including odd-jobs man Rab; Danny, the barman/owner at Nev's, the neighborhood pub where one murder happens; Nepali grocer Basant; and two local policemen, who can't decide whether to be grateful or annoyed with Janet and her friends. A number of eccentric side plots (all, thankfully, much more charming than Daphne) provide depth and entertainment: Daphne's fondness for sword work, the mysterious whereabouts of local librarian Sharon, the unreliable memory of Christine's aging mother and a hint of romance for several characters. While there's never any doubt that Janet and her cohorts will solve the case, the process is highly enjoyable, helped along by copious amounts of tea (occasionally spiked with something stronger) and plenty of scones. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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