Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tightening the Threads (A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery)

Author:  Lea Waits
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback, Ebook
ISBN #:  9781496706287
Kensington Publishing
304 Pages
$7.99; $5.99 Amazon
March 28, 2017


In the coastal town of Haven Harbor, Maine,blood runs thicker than water - and just as freely...

Antique dealer Sarah Byrne has never unspooled the truth about her past to anyone - not even friend and fellow Mainely Needlepointer Angie Curtis.  But the enigmatic Aussie finally has the one thing she's searched for all her life - family.  And now she and long-lost half-brother, Ted Lawrence, a wealthy old artist and gallery owner in town, are ready to reveal their secret connection...

Ted's adult children are suspicious of their newfound aunt Sarah - especially after Ted, in declining health, announces plans to leave her his museum-worthy heirloom paintings.  So when Ted is poisoned to death during a lobster bake, everyone assumes she's guilty.  If Sarah and Angie can't track down the real murderer in time, Sarah's bound to learn how delicate -and deadly - family dynamics can truly be.


When Angie Curtis is invited to her friend Sarah Byrne's home for dinner, she doesn't expect bombshell news:  that Sarah is the niece of Ted Lawrence, an artist and gallery owner whose father was the famous artist Robert Lawrence.  It seems Robert had once had an affair during World War II that resulted in Sarah's father, and since he died when Sarah was a child, she has been searching for years for her family, which is the real reason she wound up in Haven Harbor all the way from Australia.

But it seems finding her uncle and cementing their relationship with DNA tests is bittersweet:  When his children - Abbie, her husband Silas, sons Michael and Luke - are summoned from their homes for a birthday party with their father, Ted tells them he is dying of cancer, and that this will be the last visit they will all have together.  But even more shocking - and more important to his children - is the fact that Ted tells them he is going to change his will and leave all of his father's paintings to Sarah.

But before he can do so, Ted dies, poisoned from a bad clam.  While at first it looks like it might be an accident, the police think it might have been murder, and when another family member dies, Angie is hired to find out who the murderer of the two of them might be.  With nearly everyone having a motive - the three children weren't close to their father and more than one had reason to hate him - Angie has her work cut out for her.  She knows it's only a matter of time before the offspring hire attorneys and clam up themselves...

This is the fifth book in the Mainely Needlepoint series, and in my opinion, the best one.  While I enjoyed the previous books in the series, in this new one we learn more about Sarah and her background, and how deep the desire to find one's roots can be in another human being.  I will say though that I didn't truly understand why the subplot of the discovery in Angie's yard was added; it didn't have any bearing on the story at all, unless it was to bring in one of the other Mainely Needlepointers, who were missing throughout most of this tale.

Aside from that, I found this book highly readable and the plot well written.  It shows the keenness that is felt when one wishes for something that is always slightly out of reach; and that what seems to be the overt reason for a murder might not be the true meaning after all.  When we reach the end and the killer is revealed, it comes to a satisfactory conclusion; and I await the next in the series.  Highly recommended.

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