Thursday, December 6, 2018

Crewel and Unusual (A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery #6)

Author:  Molly MacRae
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Audio CD; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781643130088; 9781515938675
Pegasus Books
272 Pages
$25.95; $24.99; $22.73 Amazon
January 1, 2019


Yarn shop owner Kath Rutledge is looking forward to the grand opening of the Blue Plum Vault, a co-op of small shops on Main Street.  But in the week before the grand opening, Kath and her needlework group, TGIF (Thank Goodness It's Fiber), hear rumors of an unpleasant rivalry developing between two of the new shopkeepers.  Nervie Bales and Belinda Moyer declare each other's embroidery patterns and antique embroidered linens fakes, copies - and stolen goods.  Kath is caught in the middle when she's asked to use her textile expertise to decide if there's any truth to the accusations.

Then, the day before the grand opening, an exquisite tablecloth that Kath has fallen in love with - the pride of Belinda's shop - is found cut to shreds.  Belinda accuses Nervie of the outrage, but Nervie has an airtight alibi: she was at Kath's shop, the Weaver's Cat, teaching a crewel embroidery class.

Despite worries over the rivalry and vandalism, the opening is a success - until Belinda is found dead, stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors from the Weaver's Cat.  Geneva, the ghost who haunts Kath's store, claims she saw the murderer leaving the scene of the crime.  But the ghost is the ultimate unreliable witness -- only Kath and her shop manager can see or hear her.  That means it's up to Kath, TGIF, and especially Geneva the ghost to solve the crime before the killer cuts another life short.


Kath Rutledge is looking forward to visiting the Blue Plum Vault, a former bank that is now home to small shops on Main Street.  When she receives a visit from the Spivey twins, Mercy and Shirley, they tell her she needs to visit one of the shops because the owner has a magnificent embroidered table runner.  Kath, owner of the Weaver's Cat, can't resist.  When she finally sees it, she is enamored, but when the owner, Belinda Moyer, allows her to view and even more precious treasure - a tablecloth - Kath is in awe.  While Belinda hurriedly tucks it away, she lets Kath know it will be for sale.  However, Nervie Bales declares it's a fake, even though Kath knows better.  But when the shops all open, she hears a scream from Belinda and arrives to find the tablecloth cut to shreds.  Soon after, even the shreds disappear and no one knows where.

Then Belinda's body is found - by Geneva the ghost, no less - and Kath is wondering if Nervie hated her enough to kill her.  When she isn't getting any information from Deputy Cole Dunbar, she figures it's up to her and her TGIF group of knitters to flush out a killer.  But they soon learn that the recent murder of Gar Brown and Belinda might be connected.  Who would want to kill two people - one of them new to town and one of them a respected resident - and why?  What did they know that someone else didn't want them to tell?  How does the destroyed tablecloth fit in?  With a slew of suspects and ghostly Geneva offering up her own ideas, Kath tries to corner a killer who's killed twice before - and might try for a third...

I'm very fond of this series with its gloomy ghost Geneva, who resides at Kath's shop and even though she only remembers bits and pieces about her past, she has a very real presence.  Kath has even come along in the fact that she sort of likes having Geneva around.  The only other person who can see her is Ardis, retired schoolteacher and part-time worker at the Cat, who's a descendant of Geneva's family.

While Kath at first gets interested because of the destroyed tablecloth, she soon figures out that there's more to what's going on, but it seems that not only are the people who have shops at the co-op suspects, but maybe even a few people around town.  We watch as they conference and sift through clues, trying to decide motives and eliminating people along the way.  It's a fun process to be part of, and I enjoyed reading about their deductions.

While there isn't a lot about any of the characters in this book, insofar as to their lives aside from investigating, it doesn't seem important somehow.  The only thing that bothered me, just a little, was the fact of Kath and Joe's non-relationship.  I get that she's concerned with her shop and that he loves fishing; and they sleuth a little (long with the others, but they don't really do anything together.  There was one nice moment when you knew Joe had feelings for her, (and that involved Geneva) but that was it.  I think as the series proceeds (and I am so glad that it's been revived) I would at least like to see them progress.  (Not that I want this to turn into a romance series).

Aside from that, and as I stated, it was minor, I felt that while the book started slow, it picked up considerably and the mystery was done well.  There were a couple of interesting subplots going on, and the Spivey sisters are as annoying as always, but all in all, it was a delightful read.

When the killer was discovered and the reason why, I thought it all came together nicely in the end.  I had a good time trying to figure it out along with Kath, and it was worth the wait.  In the end, a nice cozy to read on a chilly evening.  There's even a nice recipe for Pear and Ginger Scones in the back, if you like to cook (I do).  I look forward to the next in the series.  Recommended.


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