Go to Homepage   Monica Ferris: Crewel Yule

 

Crescent Blues Book ViewsBerkley (Hardcover), ISBN 0-425-19827-8

Betsy Devonshire, amateur sleuth and owner of Crewel World needlework shop, finds herself in the middle of another murder. She and her employee Godwin head for Nashville in December for the Nashville Needlework Market, a needlework trade show. Their friend Jill, a police sergeant and regular customer, also ends up in Nashville at the same time for a police seminar. A blizzard hits the city, shutting it down and forcing Jill to bunk with them at their hotel after a dinner out -- just in time for Belle Hammermill, another shop owner, to die from a fall from the ninth floor.

Book: monica ferris, Crewel Yule
At first it looks like an accident or a suicide, and when a local police officer finally arrives, he does little investigating. But something doesn't feel right to Betsy, so she and Jill begin an informal investigation of their own, while Godwin happily takes over the task of shopping the market for Betsy's store. First Betsy and Jill try to determine whether the Belle's death qualified as an accident, suicide or murder. They quickly rule out accident and suicide. The rail Belle fell over reaches too high on the body for an accidental fall, and everyone they talk to indicates Belle didn't seem depressed.

The two women soon identify three viable suspects -- Cherry, the dead woman's business partner; Eve, a former employee; and Lenore, a would-be pattern designer. Cherry sunk money received after a paralyzing accident into a needlework shop with Belle, only to watch Belle embezzle money, "forget" to place special orders for customers, then blame Cherry for the problems. Belle helped Eve turn her life around (lose weight, develop confidence, meet and marry a man), then stole Eve's husband away, snapping Eve's sanity. And Belle "forgot" to get Lenore's pattern model completed on time for Lenore to bring to the market. But narrowing the field of suspects turns out to be more difficult than imagined.

After a rocky start, the book turns into a pretty good tale. In the first few chapters, Monica Ferris goes back and forth in time, first at the show, then back in August, then at the show again, setting up the back story on the three suspects as well as how Betsy, Godwin and Jill all ended up in Nashville. But this literary device becomes a bit confusing and distracting. Once Ferris resolves the confusion, the action moves along swiftly, with lots of good detective work and humor. As a stitcher myself, I enjoyed seeing familiar needlework names and companies pop up. In addition, the book includes a pattern for Lenore's Christmas tree ornament, which features prominently throughout.

Jen Foote

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