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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Murderous Yarn, Hanging by a Thread and Cutwork by Monica Ferris

I decided to put these all on one posting.  I didn't read them back to back, but they are such quick reads that it made more sense to put my comments on one spot rather than spread out over several weeks. 

A Murderous Yarn: Book #5 in the Needlecraft Mystery series.

From Goodreads.comAt this year's antique car race, one of the drivers never makes it to the finish line. His car is found in flames, and Betsy and her friends must pin down a suspect.

This is my other fluff mystery series that I like to read in addition to the Tea Shop series.  Betsy Devonshire is a more practical amateur sleuth, she knows when to involve the police, she doesn't run around confronting the murderer in dark houses all alone, and she tells her friends where she is going and what she is doing so someone can check up on her.  Besty is also struggling with juggling being a widower in a new town (Excelsior, MN - hmm, I do like my 'local mysteries don't I?), keeping a needlepoint/craft store afloat, and now, being a landlord.  As a reader, I appreciate the practicality.  The author keeps Besty grounded in the here and now and not always running hither and tither. 

Did I mention this is a fluff series?  Brain candy, fun to read in a weekend, while waiting in the airport, or on a shuttle bus between the Cities and Duluth.

Hanging by a Thread: Book #6 in the Needlecraft Mystery series.

Christmas is right around the corner and managing Crewel World is keeping Besty is busy with Holiday demands.  Her group of freinds find out Besty hired John Foster, local contractor to handle the new roof on the building Besty now owns.  Shunned for five years for a double murder he claims he didn't commit, the town of Excelcior has snubbed and slandered the man and his business.  Desperate, Foster asks Besty to look into the old case in a last attempt to clear his name once and for all.

This was a nice departure from the rest of the series as once again, Besty was dealing with a past murder and not a live new one (see Framed in Lace, Book #2).  Because, really, just how many people can realistically die of murder in one small City?  Though I really did wonder just how incompetent the police investigators were in this situation if an amature sleuth five years later can puzzle it out yet they couldn't when the evidence was still fresh?  

But so it goes.  Another quick read - was coping with a headcold that left me sniffly-sneezy and just wanted to read some fluff. 

Cutwork: Book #7 in the Needlcraft Mysteries

From Truth seems hopelessly entangled with deception...When a talented sculptor is murdered at a craft fair, Betsy Devonshire, owner of the Crewel Word needlework shop, is busy working at the fair's information booth, practically on the scene yet completely out of the loop. But Betsy's reputation for choosing all the right threads to pull in an investigation soon puts her in the center of the crime's unexpectedly complex pattern. One valued customer asks for Betsy's help in proving that the troubled youth accused of the crime is innocent, despite all the evidence to the contrary, while another insists on entrusting her with scraps of information the authorities seem too eager to dismiss. Discovering the truth means piecing together clues gathered from the dead man's family and friends and interweaving them with confidences from a friend on the police force who's troubled by the possibility that this crime is not as simple as the detective in charge of the case wants to believe.

I thought this was not as strong as the previous two books.  The point of view really jumped from character to character in this book - and while that can be an interesting literary device when done well, it becomes mostly annoying when poorly executed.  More than once I had trouble deciphering exactly who was talking.  I also had the 'who done it' figured out as soon as the character was introduced.  It was much too obvious.  The budding 'romance' being developed in Hanging by a Thread between Betsy and Morris was almost non-existent here.  

As with any prolonged series of books, some will be stronger than others.  I like the characters and setting enough to keep reading these for the moment. 

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