Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Uniformly Dead (A Stitch in Time Mystery #1)

Author:  Greta McKennan
Genre:  Mystery

Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781516101719
Lyrical Press
204 Pages
$15.00; $3.99 Amazon
May 16, 2017

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Historical seamstress Daria Dembrowski has her work cut out for her as she searches for a killer's pattern...

Daria has come up with a brilliant new plan to expand her seamstress business beyond stitching wedding gowns - historical sewing.  And with Civil War re-enactors setting up camp in her hometown of Laurel Springs, Pennsylvania, she has plenty of opportunities, including one client playing a Confederate colonel who's a particular stickler for authenticity.

But soon the small-town peace starts coming apart at the seams as an antique doll is stolen from a Civil War exhibit and the cranky colonel is found impaled by his own bayonet.  When Daria's brother is suspected of the theft and a bridal client's fiance is accused of the murder, Daria is determined to untangle the clues to prove their innocence.  She needs to get this case sewn up fast, though, before the murderer re-enacts the crime and makes her history.

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Daria Dembrowski is a seamstress who works out of her home.  She's currently making wedding gowns and such but wants to branch out into historical costumes.  She's given her chance when a man named Colonel Windstrom (his re-enactor name) hires her to make his Confederate uniform 'historically accurate.'  But then her brother Pete arrives asking to stay with her, and she learns why soon enough, and it's not a pretty picture.

When she gets Pete to take her to a local museum so she can study uniforms for accuracy, there's a bit of a debacle.  First, Pete's long time nemesis Emmett McDowell is there, signing copies of his new book and still harassing her brother no end.  Pete finally has had enough and leaves, but as he's doing so, there's a commotion between the colonel and a man who seems to be a photographer which has him accidentally running into Daria and knocking her to the floor.  After she's helped up by another re-enactor, Jim Laker, the lights go out and when they come on again, a doll in the exhibit is missing and the finger is pointed at her brother.

Meanwhile, she still has the wedding gown she needs to finish for a friend named Marsha, and she's getting married within the week to a nice young man, Chris, who also happens to be one of the re-enactors.  When she arrives at the battlefield for a final fitting for the colonel, she's not surprised he's just as unpleasant as he's always been and discovers when the transaction is over that she's been stiffed twenty dollars.  Not wanting to face the colonel again she decides to let it go, but realizes she's left her tape measure behind and when she returns to the tent to retrieve it finds her friend Chris standing over the bloody body of the colonel holding the bayonet that killed him.

Refusing to believe that Chris is guilty, and with Marsha begging her to help him, Daria can't refuse, not even when she discovers that her brother is next in line to be tagged as a murderer and she just might find herself in the crosshairs as well...

This is the first in the series and therefore I usually give the author a bit of leeway as to storyline, characters, etc.  But when you begin a book with something that obviously doesn't make sense then it doesn't bode well for the rest of the book.  As I've stated many times, I'm a person who pays attention to details, which is why I couldn't like this book.

Supposedly her ex-boyfriend lived with her while he was going to law school, then when he passed the bar he worked in his father's firm for awhile but eventually skipped town, taking everything in their joint bank account with him.  First, he's an attorney and knows this is against the law.  Secondly, he worked in his father's firm - which, I'm guessing is in town since she didn't state otherwise.  So why didn't she go see the father and ask his help in getting her money back?  Unless he was on his son's side and encouraged him to steal from her, he should have been some help since he probably knew where his son was.  If he was on his son's side, his law practice would have been down the tubes the minute everyone she knew found out what had been done, and that the father hadn't stopped it or helped her get the money back.  This would show that he didn't care about theft in his own family; and I certainly would have made it known that he refused to help.  This is mistake number one.

How could her brother be accused of stealing the doll when he left the museum before the lights went out?  Did he run back in very fast and turn out the lights, smash the case, steal the doll and then run out again in a matter of minutes?  Please explain this.

Daria says she hates driving, and takes the bus everywhere.  So she carries items she makes on a crowded bus without worrying about them being wrinkled or jostled?  You can't just stuff handmade clothing into a bag as she does.  It needs to be in a garment bag, and where on earth on a bus are you going to keep it nice?    She’s a seamstress, and what if there was an occasion where she’d have to go to a customer’s home or the bus was late?  It doesn't seem like this is a very good career choice for someone who won't drive.

Also, I don't like her renter Aileen.  She's disrespectful and acts like she owns the house.  I don't care how much she pays for rent, I would remind her who the owner is and if she moves out, so be it.  I wouldn't allow any renter to treat me or mine that way, and not even 'protecting' Daria would make a difference.  (Rock band?  With the name of the band and the way Aileen dresses it seems more like a grunge/punk band.  Plus, she has no table manners and the way she eats she'd have bad skin and probably stomach issues later in life.  Yuck.)  Even rockers don't dress at home the same way they dress on stage.  Gene Simmons wearing KISS makeup and costumes around the house?  Yeah, right...

Which brings us to the fact that Daria is a doormat.  She hasn't got the backbone she was born with.  She allows everyone to push her around instead of standing up to them, and I hate women who are weak-willed.   I also don't care for male love interests with long hair, so Sean never appealed to me at all.  Unfortunately, with these things being unappealing, you can pretty much guess that the book would be unappealing, too.

Then, Officer Carson keeps investigating.  Why?  Is this town so small there are no homicide detectives?  In that case, one would be imported from the nearest town over.  Officers do not investigate murders.  Homicide Detectives investigate murders - and they don't wear uniforms, something the author should have known if she's seen even one crime show on television.  Another example is the waltz they were playing at the Civil War ball was The Blue Danube, which wasn't composed until 1866 or performed until 1867 - after the Civil War ended.  They wanted to be accurate, so should have chosen accurate music.

Also, what about the situation with Daria and Pete's father?  We're given a paragraph about it, but nothing else.  Is this the author's way of ensuring we read the next in the series?  This is just the author 'holding the readers hostage' in order that they will read the next in the series.

It was difficult to get past these things, because most of them could have been handled differently and more believable.  As it was, the entire book seemed like the author didn't care, she just wanted to get something published.  I couldn't even get excited about the ending, which was pretty decent, because of it.  I don't know if I'll be reading another in this series or not.

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