Crewel and Unusual
A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery #6
By Molly MacRae
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie Dannheim
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. (from Goodreads)
Molly MacRae is a gifted storyteller, successfully weaving an indoor and outdoor setting in picturesque Tennessee, a group of quirky crafters, and an intriguing, complex mystery. Kath, Geneva, and the gang at The Weaver’s Cat are back, better than ever! Sixth in the series, it can be read as a standalone, but many readers might decide to go back and read the rest of the series after enjoying this delightful, intriguing mystery. I for one will go back to the ones I haven’t read yet as they simply aren’t worth missing. Many of the fiber arts crafters consider themselves part of Kath’s Posse since helping her find a killer when she first arrives for Granny Ivy McClellan’s funeral several months prior. They are also part of the Thank Goodness it’s Fiber subgroup, Fast & Furious Friday, that makes caps for newborns at the local hospital.
It has been two weeks since Gar Brown was found murdered at a trailhead parking area, thought to be a victim of the smash and grab thieves vandalizing vehicles at hiking trailhead lots. Gar’s favorite project, the Blue Plum Vault, is about to open. Formerly the bank where he had started as a teller many years ago and eventually retired from, it has been repurposed as a craft co-op from where local artisans, crafters, and collectors sell their wares. Even Joe, brother of Deputy Cole Dunbar (aka “Clod”), is selling postcard-size watercolor paintings and hand-tied flies. Joe and Kath are seeing each other but have not yet given a name to what they might have.
Geneva, the despondent ghost is still at the Cat. Thankfully Ardis, the full-time manager of the shop, can now see and hear Geneva; they discovered a special link between the two. Geneva is an enthusiastic member of the posse. While she can’t go out and question people, she is great at listening in on conversations without being caught and has a “PhD” in the TV cop series from Andy Griffith to Law and Order and everything in between.
Before the grand opening, Granny’s cousins, the Spivey twins, stop to tell Kath about a fabulous, silk-embroidered antique table runner that Belinda Moyer is selling at the Vault. They claim to have told Belinda that with Kath’s training and experience (she is a highly-trained textile preservation specialist), she might be able to authenticate it. Kath went to see Belinda’s shop and was captivated by the table runner. Even more so was she taken with a gorgeous embroidered tablecloth that is museum quality. Nervie, another vendor, accused Belinda of selling cheap knockoffs made in other countries and, in the case of the tablecloth, claimed it was stolen. Whew!
The next day, Joe texted Kath that there was vandalism at the vault. Kath went to see Belinda and the beautiful, museum quality tablecloth that had been murdered, painstakingly and thoroughly cut up and shredded. Edges of some pieces were singed. Belinda accused Nervie of destroying it. Then on the day of the grand opening, it gets much, much worse. Geneva discovered Belinda, murdered in a storage room. The posse is back in business!
I really enjoy the characters, each of whom is drawn with insight and a touch of whimsy. These are folks who can laugh at themselves (and sometimes each other), are willing to help others when needed, and have unique talents used for the good of the community. Kath is supposed to have inherited Ivy’s ability to work magic through the special dye recipe journals she kept hidden. It’s fun to see how Geneva changes from one mystery to the next.
There is always something new to learn in one of Ms. MacRae’s mysteries. Other than crocheting, I am not familiar with the many fiber crafts, and I wasn’t aware there were many kinds of embroidery, including one with silk threads that looks like a painting. Who killed the tablecloth? It is a running theme since the shredded piece of art was discovered until its owner was murdered. Even the means of death was surprising, adding another twist to this multi-tiered novel. There are plot twists throughout, and the end brought multiple surprises, from the real bad guy (not someone I had considered) and various motives (could never have guessed them) to what really happened to the tablecloth. This intriguing, suspenseful, and witty mystery will delight readers who are new to the series and those returning to Blue Plum, Tennessee and I highly recommend it.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*