Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Thread the Halls (A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery #6)

Author:  Lea Wait
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781496706300
Kensington Publishing
320 Pages
$7.99; $5.99 Amazon
October 31, 2017

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This Yuletide season, there's no time for Angie Curtis and Patrick West to linger under the mistletoe.  Patrick's being needled by his mother - movie star Skye West - to set the stage for a perfect white Christmas as she brings her costar, screenwriters, and director home for the holidays.  With his mother's long list of wishes, Patrick's becoming unraveled.  To help, the Mainely Needlepointers offer to decorate Skye's Victorian mansion and create needlepoint pillows as gifts for the guests.

But not long after the celebrity celebrants invade Haven Harbor, an unscripted tragedy occurs.  Then some questionable Christmas cookies make Patrick sick.  Before Santa arrives at the town pier on a lobster boat, Angie and the Needlepointers need to trim down the naughty list, catch a cold-hearted killer, and wrap up the case...

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Moving back home to Haven Harbor, Maine after ten years away, Angie Curtis is getting ready to celebrate her first Christmas with her friends and family.  While having a tree decorating party at her home with everyone, her new beau Patrick West, son of famous actress Skye West, asks everyone's help in decorating his mother's mansion - Aurora - for the holidays.  It seems he just received a phone call from her where she's filming in Scotland, and she wants her costars, screenwriters and director to experience a 'real Maine Christmas.'  But with Christmas only days away, how can they get ready in time?

Everyone already has plans of their own, but with the offer to pay well and the fact they like Patrick, they agree.  Everyone in the Mainely Needlepointers has agreed to make small gifts for the guests, and others have offered what they can - knowing the extra money wouldn't hurt.  They've even convinced a local widow to become a live-in cook at Aurora during the visit.  It's not going to be easy, but Angie, with some trepidation and the help of her friends and family, thinks it can be done in time; although it means changing some of her own holiday plans.

Once everything has been done and the guests have arrived, Patrick asks Angie to come and meet everyone.  But before they enter the home, they decide to take a walk around the estate to look at the stars in the clear night sky.  On their way back, Angie sees something in the snow, and even though Patrick tells her it's probably nothing, her curiosity - and the fact that she worked for a private eye in Arizona for ten years and has a natural instinct - tells her to look closer.  She discovers that it's a body, and calls in the local police.

The dead man turns out to be one of the actors from the movie, but no one seems to remember him going outside or seems to have any reason to kill him.  Yet he's dead, so someone must have had a motive.  They soon realize that the murderer had to be someone from the house party, but who?  They were nearing the end of the film, and why would they jeopardize all their jobs for murder?

Angie tries to stay out of the investigation as she has other things to worry about.  A storm is heading their way, everyone has been invited to the Christmas Eve party at Aurora, and there's an annoying potential customer from Texas who's enthralled with Skye and keeps showing up at Angie's unannounced peppering her with questions and trying to get her to introduce her to Skye.  When it becomes apparent the killer has another target in mind, Angie begins to wonder if her life is going to crumble like Christmas cookies before she's able to wrap up a murder...

I love reading about Angie and her friends.  Although I do have reservations about the newest addition to her circle - Clem - who showed early on (no spoiler here since it's almost immediate) that she's not much of a friend at all.  Angie's grandmother Charlotte is settling into her new life as the wife of Reverend Tom, Angie and Patrick are well on their way to becoming a couple, and reading about the local trimmings - home grown trees, handmade wreaths, food, etc., is a nice way to bring you into the Season.

The mystery itself is done well.  We're drawn into the story early on, and looking for clues along with Angie into who would want Paul dead.  Even Angie herself is considered the main suspect at one point.  The mystery is interspersed with the sights and sounds of Christmas, including an old-fashioned (sort of) sleigh ride, a parade, and the arrival of Santa Claus by boat.  It's a delightful way to investigate a murder.

All that aside, there is enough action to keep one interested, a few red herrings and people of questionable behavior, and a tight little mystery to solve.  The characters are convincing, with a sweeping descriptions of Haven Harbor and what it must look like during Christmas.  We are brought into the town as if we were there, a place that would be wonderful to visit.  All in all, it's a pleasant way to spend an evening.

When we come to the end and the murder is solved (as we know it must be) it is satisfying and yet a bit sad.  There is also a bit of a surprise attached to it, and given the circumstances, I don't think anyone would know how they might react in the same situation.  This is the sixth book in the Mainely Needlepoint Mysteries, but can be read as a stand alone.  If you choose to go back to the beginning, the first book is titled Twisted Threads.  I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended. 

https://www.amazon.com/Thread-Halls-Mainely-Needlepoint-Mystery/dp/1496706307/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2169698871

More on Lea Wait's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/w/lea-wait/

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