Friday, October 14, 2016

Dangling by a Thread (A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery, Book 4)

Author:  Lea Wait
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback; Ebook
ISBN#:  9781496706263
Kensington Publishing
304 Pages
$7.99; $5.99 Amazon
October 25, 2016

Four Stars

The Mainely Needlepointers are about to learn that no man is an island - especially when greedy developers want his land...

Hermit Jesse Lockhart lives alone on King's Island, three miles east of Haven Harbor, Maine, where he's created a private sanctuary for the endangered Great Cormorants.  But when a wealthy family wants to buy the island and Jesse's cousin Simon petitions for power of attorney to force him to sell, Jesse is the one who becomes endangered.

Mainely Needlepointer Dave Perry, who befriended Jesse in the VA hospital, rallies the group to his defense.  Angie Curtis and the ravelers stitch "Save the King's Island Cormorants" pillows and sell T-shirts to pay for Jesse's legal counsel.  But tragically, on a visit to the island, Angie finds Jesse dead.  Now the search is on for a common thread that can tie the murdered man to his killer...


Angie Curtis has recently returned to Haven Harbor, Maine from Arizona, where she worked as an assistant to a private investigator.  She's currently living in the home where she grew up, once belonging to her grandmother, who has recently married the local pastor.  She's also inherited the running of Mainely Needlepointers, a business her grandmother began with other Mainers.

One morning while watching the boats in Haven Harbor, she sees a small skiff enter the harbor and its lone occupant walk toward town.  Angie, her curiosity getting the better of her, eventually finds out a little about him from Dave Percy:  his name is Jesse Lockhart, he lives alone on a local island, but Dave won't tell her any more, so she decides to drop the subject.

When Angie and another needlepointer, Ruth, are having dinner at Dave's home the next evening, Jesse shows up unannounced and nearly frantic.  He tells them that someone said he had to sell his island, which will also disturb the nesting grounds of the Great Cormorant, which is a threatened species.  It seems that the island was left to both Jesse and his cousin Simon, and Jesse fears that Simon wants to sell and will force him to do so also.

Wanting to help Jesse, the Needlepointers decide they will enlist help from anyone they can (including the Audubon Society) to keep the island from being sold to the rich tourist who wants to
buy it to build a home.  But when Angie and Dave go to the island to warn Jesse about something they discovered, Jesse, not recognizing Dave right away, shoots him with an arrow, and Dave has to be taken back to the mainland immediately for treatment.

When a local police officer informs Angie that Jesse will have to be brought in for questioning, she insists on going along, but when they arrive at the island they find Jesse dead.  Not too long after that it is discovered that Jesse was murdered; it appears someone didn't want to wait for the island to be sold, but who?  There's plenty of suspects - was it Jesse's cousin Simon, local real estate agent Jed Fitch, or Gerry Bentley, the tourist who wanted the island?  With Dave in the hospital and Jesse dead, Angie's determined to find the killer...

This is the fourth book in the Mainely Needlepoint series, and the needlepointers (Angie, Anna, Dave, Ruth, Sarah)are back again.  When they are told of the trouble regarding Dave, Jesse's only friend, they band together in a campaign to save the Great Cormorants, a threatened species.  But they also find that not everyone thinks the birds are worth saving - others thinking they could just as easily find nesting grounds elsewhere - including Gram's new husband, Reverend Tom, who believes an influx of wealthy residents could be good for the town and with the everyone divided, Angie will have to be careful in her questioning if she isn't to raise suspicions.

While Angie's love life is still pretty much up in the air, it appears that there is one or two possibilities that will be interesting to watch as they develop; yet Angie is a strange bird who doesn't seem sure of herself at all - trying to decide if wearing eye shadow is "too much".  (Which begs the question that if she thinks eye shadow is too much, then do any of the Haven Harbor women wear makeup?  It seems odd that the entire female population of a town would eschew trying to look their best).  For myself, I like to see that female protagonists wear makeup rather than just throwing on lip gloss.  (Does anyone except preteens even wear lip gloss?)  But this is just my opinion, and I digress...

I enjoyed reading this book so much that I read it in one sitting; the mystery was well-written and the pieces were woven nicely together, giving the characters more depth than they had in previous books, which is always nice to see.  I do love the descriptions of the Maine coast; the harbor, the boats, the sea air; it really makes me want to make a trip Down East, and soon.  This book is more about others pitching together when a tragedy strikes, but I didn't feel it detracted at all from the murder.  When we finally find the identity of the killer and the reason that Jesse was murdered, it all seems so sad, somehow; convoluted beliefs that led to murder.  However, it gave a satisfying ending to the book, and I look forward to reading the next in the series.  Recommended.

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