When Betsy Devonshire arrived in Excelsior, Minnesota, all she wanted was to visit her sister Margot and get her life in order. She never dreamed her sister would give her a place to stay and a job at her needlecraft shop. In fact, things had never looked so good - until Margot was murdered. In a town this friendly, it's hard to imagine who could have committed such a horrible act, but Betsy has a few ideas. There's an ex-employee who wants to start her own needlework store. And there's the landlord who wanted Margot out. Now Betsy's putting together a list of motives and suspects to figure out this killer's pattern of crime….
©1999 Monica Ferris (P)2011 AudioGO
No plot spoiler reviews allowed!
I liked this book about a small town murder mystery with a twist of needlework shop thrown in. The depiction of knitting, counted work and embroidery are all accurate. The discussion of design drawn from objects in an art museum, color and fiber snobbery are spot on. The story kept my interest and if it is a series (which I think it is) I will probably give the next book a try. The character development was good and made it an engaging story. Be aware that having a needlework hobby probably would add to the enjoyment level for the reader-- but this isn't a must.
The only time I buy books this short are when I'm spending a bonus gift card, so frequently I end up with a book written by an author I don't know, a book whose chief asset was that it didn't cost more than the value of the gift card. This was one of those, and a lucky buy.
I like a good cozy now and then -- at least to intersperse with some of the more violent or hard-boiled thrillers -- and this one was exceptionally good. It starts very differently, that's for sure. The woman you think is going to be the protagonist isn't -- its her sister instead, Betsy, who turns out to be a more interesting person than her goody-two-shoes, civic-minded sister would have been -- something about the lure of that 'sadder but wiser' girl that Prof. Harold Hill lusted after in 'Music Man'. Betsy has a bit of history behind her, which makes her all that much more interesting.
The first part of the book deals with Betsy's stepping into her new role, so we get an unusually long 'introduction'. No doubt some listeners will be screaming to get on with the detection part, but I liked this more gradual entry. And besides, it makes you think: What if you arrived in a brand new town, and within a day, found yourself entirely responsibly for planning -- and paying for -- a funeral? Good stuff -- I'll be looking for more books by this author, and I'm glad to know how it all began.
I don't think any knowledge or interest in knitting or crafting of any kind is required -- nor is it gender-specific. Male crewel artists appear, too -- it's ART, and not just for women any more, which this book proves beyond a doubt.
The narrator was new to me as well -- there's a faint trace of Brooklyn or maybe LonGuyland in her voice, even though the story is set in small-town Minnesota. Didn't matter -- she probably wouldn't know what to do with lutefisk or lefse, but she did a fine job reading.
Good book! Now I just wish it had been longer....
Having read almost the whole series, mostly in print version, I recommend it highly. This is the first book in the series and it is well worth reading. You are gradually introduced to the characters that will be around for a while and a few who won't be, but since the dirty deed doesn't happen right off the bat, you don't know who's going to get it or "who dun it" for a while. This does build tension, but it isn't obvious. This book is not gimmiky or gadgety. You feel these are real people who are having the same troubles and delights as the rest of us. The author takes the time to flesh out the characters, so when there is a tragedy, it doesn't fit. And it shouldn't, most people don't experience this, except on TV etc. In fact the true nature of the crime doesn't get exposed until gradually as they are putting their lives back together it emerges as something else. It brings it all home more than most "who dun it's."
The only thing you don't get in the audio version is the stitching pattern at the back. And there may be a way!
As Peter's wife, I have knitted & needleworked for most of my life, this is a perfect series for me to listen to while driving. It's amusing but not distracting, the characters are believeable as well as the story lines.
I enjoyed this book. The mystery was entertaining and the narration excellent. I didn't want to stop listening once I started.
Time Well Spent
Not on the "edge" of my seat - but firmly planted, reluctant to be distracted by anything in the outside world.
When the family came home - the main stereo turned off and the ipod & headphones went to work.
The consistancy of a level calm read.
captivating & tangling into the lives of artful women
The only thing that would of made my experience more enjoyable would of been a calm fire in the fireplace as I sat in my recliner next to a large picture window with snow piled up outside.
I don't have a picture window, we get very little snow anymore, and I do not have a fireplace.
I do have a recliner....
A 50-something who loves sci-fi, cozy mysteries, thrillers, an occasional romance, and any genre if it is a good story. And especially if it makes me laugh! No vampires or zombies though - these are NOT sci-fi!
I enjoyed listening to this book, and I found I was picking up my needlework more often than usual! Something about the descriptions of yarns, silks, etc, made me want to sink my hands into them. I figured out 'whodunit' about halfway through the book, and enjoyed collecting clues to see if I was right - I was! I plan to purchase more of the series, but I think I'd better visit my local yarn shop first and stock up....
Maybe knitting isn't my thing. I found the story simplistic, not intriguing at all. I will admit the writing is pure Minnesota. The reader mispronounces several place names and city names which to me is unacceptable. Both the reader and the producer should know better.
When I choose a "cozy" mystery centered in traditional women's worlds of cookery, needlecraft or typing, I look forward to clever story told with warmth and humor. This story had a fairly surprising windup at the end (rather abruptly), but the characters were tired and not very likable. Two sisters who know nothing of one another's lives, yet there is no explanation of an estrangement. They had a happy childhood and are close in age. One falls on hard times and comes to live with the other knowing NOTHING about her sister's life, career, friendships or finances. They treat each other as virtual strangers. One is surrounded by friends and everyone loves her, so why has she been so cold to her sister? It would have made more sense to make them old college roommates just back in touch. Anyway, it was a completely humorless tale and the writing was mechanical at best. The solution to the mystery comes out of left field at the end. Susan Boyce did a fine job reading. I found her delivery a little stilted after a while but I don't think there was much more she could do with the prose she was given.
The book did manage to make me as interested in needlework as I was in the actual murder.
"Had to abandon it"
This was SO boring for me - and so generally popular with other readers - that I think it was just that I didn't like it. I listened whilst the scene was set and wotsername pootled around in her craft shop patronising her friend. No real life small business owner would ever have the internal dialogue she has with herself ("Will I have time to fit in this enormously valuable commission from a customer who is offering to pay me upfront? Hmm, let's see"). When it started banging on about her characterful cat I pretty much thought, kill me now. And turned it off. If this seems a bit harsh, a passing relative overheard it playing and asked me what was that drivel I was listening to, so it wasn't just me. However, I notice there are several books in the series so there must be readers who like it.
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