|Monica Ferris: Cutwork|
(Paperback), ISBN 0-425-19389-6
Betsy Devonshire runs a needlework shop and solves mysteries on the side. While volunteering at the concessions booth during a local art fair, one of the exhibitors, Robbie McFey, dies, his throat slashed and his cashbox emptied. Suspicion immediately falls on Mickey Sinclair, a local juvenile delinquent, and Betsy gets pulled into the investigation at the request of his family. The police department's investigation builds a strong case against Mickey, making Betsy's job even more difficult.
But a few other suspects turn up. Robbie's soon-to-be-ex-wife loves the money he used to make at his advertising career -- a career he gave up after being diagnosed with what he thought was a terminal disease. Wanting to live out the rest of his life happily, Robbie sold his advertising company and focused on woodcarving. Robbie's son, Coyne, also expressed bitter disappointment at his father, because now Coyne needed to find a job to pay his college tuition.
Robbie's former advertising partner lost everything when the new company tanked -- his job, his retirement money and his investments. Finally, Ian Masterson, a fellow artist, paid Robbie $65,000 in exchange for being named the beneficiary of a $100,000 life insurance policy. Betsy digs her way through the list of suspects, while promoting one of her shop employees, serving as the honor attendant at a friend's wedding, running her shop and trying not to tread on the official investigation.
Dull and plodding, Monica Ferris just meanders through the tale. This book feels very incoherent. Too many suspects create too much confusion. The multiple sidebar stories don't help much either. In the final thirty pages or so, Betsy miraculously solves the mystery, but Ferris doesn't spend any time explaining how Betsy came to her conclusions.
I found Cutwork a very disappointing mystery. But Ferris displayed a nice attention to detail in the descriptions of the needlework techniques woven through the story. Ironically, I think my time would have been better spent cross-stitching than reading this book.
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