Sunday, January 1, 2017

"Plaid and Plagiarism"

Molly MacRae spent twenty years in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Upper East Tennessee, where she managed The Book Place, an independent bookstore; may it rest in peace. Before the lure of books hooked her, she was curator of the history museum in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town.

MacRae lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois, where she connects children with books at the public library.

MacRae applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Plaid and Plagiarism, book one in the Highland Bookshop Mystery series, and reported the following:
From page 69:
On her return trip to the desk, Janet passed Pamela looking comfortable in one of the overstuffed chairs near the picture books. She appeared to be nodding over a copy of The Tobermory Cat. At the desk, Sharon was deep in conversation with another customer—Maida Fairlie, mother-in-law to Janet’s son, Allen.

“Maida! It’s been too long. It’s so good to see you.” Janet sounded overly effusive, but she didn’t care. She hoped her gush would make up for not being in touch before now. Though they’d never been great friends—friendly more than friends, as Sharon had put it—Maida was one of the first people Janet had met in Inversgail all those years ago. Janet often came away from conversations with Maida feeling as though she’d been tested. Not by Maida, so much. Maida seemed to enjoy hearing about life in central Illinois, and Maida and her husband had given Allen their blessings to marry Nicola, their only child. But it was always clear to Janet that looking over Maida’s shoulders was a long line of sober, solemn, and Sabbath-keeping ancestors, clucking their tongues, even though they’d been buried in the kirkyard for centuries.

“I’ll have a look round the shop,” Sharon said, “and leave you two to chat. I’ll catch you again before I’m away, Janet.” Sharon squeezed past one of the hikers engrossed in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Tartan and disappeared into the aisle with the gardening books.

“The grandboys send their love,” Janet said to Maida. “We flew into Edinburgh and stayed with them for a few days before coming here.”

“Nicola told me.”

“I can’t believe how much they’ve grown in the few months since we came to sign our lives away into this book business. Freddy started calling me Nana Jana, and Wally immediately changed it to Banana Jana, and they laughed until they had the hiccups. I loved every minute of their silliness. But look at you, Maida; you haven’t changed a bit in five years.”

“Away with you,” Maida said. “It’s just that I’m wearing my same old coat.” She looked down at the dark gray cloth, darker because of the rain, and flapped the hem. “And it’s more like five and a half years.”
Is page 69 representative of the rest of the book? Yes and no. Plaid and Plagiarism is a traditional amateur sleuth mystery whose protagonists are the new owners of a bookshop in the Scottish Highlands. The scene on this page puts the reader in the shop with Janet, one of those new owners. The first line introduces the coziness of the setting.

The second paragraph fills in some of Janet’s backstory and also lets the reader in on her slightly uneasy feelings about an old acquaintance, Maida Fairlie, who is also her son’s mother-in-law. The last line on the page, spoken by Maida as she offers a minor correction of something Janet said, further hints at tension between the two characters.

The overall tone of the page is that of a gentle read, which is true of the book as a whole. The book is a murder mystery, though, and there is a body and there are moments of suspense, action, and danger. Just not on page 69.
Visit Molly MacRae's website.

My Book, The Movie: Plaid and Plagiarism.

--Marshal Zeringue