Thursday, August 23, 2018

Historically Dead (A Stitch in Time Mystery Book #2)

Author:  Greta McKennan
Genre:  Mystery

Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781516101726
Lyrical Underground Publishing
222 Pages
$15.00; $2.99 Amazon
December 19, 2017


Seamstress Daria Dembrowski must find a historically-minded killer before the fabric of her peaceful town rips wide open...

When the reality show My House in History comes to Laurel Springs, Pennsylvania, savvy seamstress Daria Dembrowski sees a business opportunity.  The show follows two elderly sisters' quest to restore their colonial mansion and that means a heap of work for a seamstress who specializes in historical textiles.  Although one of the old women is a bit of a grump, Daria loves the job-until she discovers one of the researchers dead, and the whole project threatens to unwind.

As a series of historical crimes pile up, from a stolen Paul Revere platter to a chilling incident of arson, Daria must find the killer quickly, for her life is hanging by a thread.


When Daria Dembrowski accepts the task of sewing historical clothing and curtains for a couple of elderly women in her town, she's willing to put up with the bad attitude of one of them.  She's willing to work in the home instead of her own.  She's not so willing to discover a dead body - but that's exactly what she does. 

Her job is part of a reality television show where people agree to have their homes returned to their original historic beginnings - which in this case means ripping everything out of the kitchen and having a brick hearth installed (but incredulously, they're not ripping out the bathroom plumbing.  Go figure.)  Anyway, Daria is installed in one of the bedrooms converted to a sewing room where she can live in part time while she sews historical clothing and curtains - by hand - for the residents of the home while everything is being filmed.

There is also a local college professor in residence who is helping, and he has the drawings Daria needs to complete her work.  When she attempts to locate him she does exactly that - but not in a living condition.  Soon it's discovered that he's been murdered, and the entire household is under suspicion for his death.  Surprisingly, knowing she's under the roof with a murderer doesn't faze her as much as it should, even while she's trying to figure out who killed him.

But as if things couldn't get any worse, she's also in the process of creating a wedding gown for a nice young law student named Fiona, and discovers that Fiona's fiancé is none other than her own ex, the lying, stealing Randall Flint.  Since she likes Fiona she won't say anything, but what makes it doubly uncomfortable is he's also the attorney for the two sisters and is spending nearly as much time at their home as she is.

Then there's the fact that someone is sabotaging her home...first eggs, then dead mice, and it only escalates from there.  Not even the formidable Aileen can figure out who's trying to intimidate them, and her brother Pete is working long hours and barely home.  But why would anyone want to hurt them?  Are the two things related?  Daria vows to figure it out, even if it kills her...

I almost didn't read this book because I was so disappointed in the first, but I have to admit that this one was better, which is a good thing.  However, it isn't to say that it doesn't have its problems.  First, she's been dating Sean McCarty, the photographer for the local newspaper, and she doesn't treat him very well.  In fact, they don't really act like a couple.  There's a bit of hand-holding, but that's about it.  No cuddling, no kisses; it seems she's more interested in him as a ride to the fabric store than anything else.  It's sad because regardless of the fact I don't care for men with long hair, I'm beginning to like him as a person (and feel sorry for him, which is worse).

Which brings us to the fact that this woman needs therapy.  Badly.  Driving terrifies her for some reason, but she won't find out why.  She'd rather inconvenience anyone around her by begging for rides (when she's not riding the bus or taking a cab) than actually face her fears and overcome them so she's spending a lot of time on the bus, and since buses don't have only one stop going from point A to point B could take an hour or more.  What will she do when people refuse to be her chauffeur anymore?  (She has a driver's license, not an ID, but how did she get it if she's terrified of driving?)

Which pretty much explains why she didn't demand Randall give back the money he stole or pointing out to Fiona that he's a slimeball.  She's still a doormat in this book, which is rather disappointing.  I had hoped she'd gotten a backbone, but no such luck.  She's proving that she has no common sense when it comes to men at all.  She lets Randall walk all over her, but keeps McCarthy at arms length.

However, the writing was much better this time out, and the mystery was decent.  While I figured out who the murderer was pretty early on (I read a lot of these), there were still enough twists and turns to keep me interested for the most part.  There were a couple of interesting scenes thrown in, and I do like it when people get their comeuppance.

I still think there's something wrong with Aileen - as I've stated before, rockers don't dress at home the same way they dress when they're onstage (as I've stated in a previous review, can you imagine members of Kiss or Alice Cooper walking around dressed like that in daily life?)  Yeah, they don't.  So there's probably something a little mentally off about Aileen - which you can figure out yourself if you read what she eats, which is enough to make anyone throw up.  While she might seem fierce, it's hard to truly like someone like that or make them a believable character.

Everything came together in the end and the pieces fit together nicely.  Daria proved that she can be brave when she wants to be (and I know I'm repeating myself) so it doesn't make sense that she's not brave enough to face her fear about driving.  If you can face down a murderer, you should be able to face down the mean streets of a small town.  A cozy mystery for a quiet evening's read.


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