A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery, Book #2
By Molly MacRae
Author Website: mollymacrae(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Kath Rutledge’s grandmother left her a charming fiber and fabric shop, a close-knit group of needlework lovers, and a television-addicted ghost in the attic. She may also have inherited the special skills required to untangle a murder.
Always up for trying something new, Kath and her friends from the fiber and needlework group TGIF—Thank Goodness it’s Fiber—are visiting Cloud Hollow Farm for the day to learn the fine art of dyeing. With spring in the air, the friends head out to greet the sheep. But the sheep are more interested in something else—two bodies spread under a tall tree. And one of those bodies is someone they know.
Kath’s friends nudge her to investigate, and no one is more adamant than Geneva, the ghost who loves to play assistant sleuth. But when Kath discovers another murder cut from the same cloth, she’s more determined than ever to hang a roving killer out to dry. ( Goodreads)
Second in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery series, this delightful cozy mystery sees Kath Rutledge getting settled in at her grandmother’s shop and as a member of the TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Fiber) needle arts group. I very much enjoyed this novel; the characters are well-defined and we get to know each one better. There are breathtaking descriptions of the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the lovely, quaint town of Blue Plum, Tennessee, giving human qualities to the natural beauty. Kath has a great sense of humor, as evidenced through her first-person account. And the mystery is challenging – to the police, TGIF, and this reader.
Kath inherited Granny’s beloved fiber arts shop and many years of accumulated books, patterns, and journals. The Weaver’s Cat is a central meeting place in town for people who love to do any kind of work involving yarn, including spinning and weaving, and fabric groups, including quilting.
We open to TGIF members going to member Debbie’s Cloud Hollow Farm, where she raises Cotswold sheep and will teach her technique for dyeing yarn and wool roving. The day isn’t off to a good start. Debbie locked the keys in the studio by mistake and awaits a neighbor bringing over her spare key. When the ladies, including snowbird Bonny, arrive and begin to watch the sheep, Debbie is surprised that the sheep don’t come to see them. They are huddled together in a group near a tree, the usually friendly creatures not tempted to see the guests. After trying to see what was going on through a camera zoom, Debbie and Kath go into the pasture. Debbie is horrified as she knows the couple they find lying on the ground, the man cradling the woman. She has been shot in the chest, he has been shot in the head with a gun by his hand.
The man is Will Embree, who has been on the lam for a couple years since accused of killing former co-worker Terry Widener. The woman is Shannon Goforth, Bonny’s daughter and spokesperson for the paper manufacturer she, Will, and Terry worked for. Torn with grief, Bonny asked Kath to find the truth, like she did when solving a murder after first arriving in Blue Plum. There are mixed feelings around town about Will. Most believe Will was a killer and had stalked and frightened Shannon. They claim Shannon was close to a security guard at the paper plant, Eric Lyle, whose gun was found next to Will.
Speculation is that Will had found Eric and killed him, killed Shannon, then turned the gun on himself. There is a lot of background Kath must learn, especially when the posse, made up of members of TGIF, offer their help. Well, all except one, Joe Dunbar, who is brother to Deputy Cole “Clod” Dunbar. Geneva, the desolate ghost that only Kath and their as-yet unnamed cat can see, is great at undercover listening, since nobody can see her, but sometimes she gets a pout on and doesn’t follow through on her promises.
The characters are a blast! While most have known each other for years, they have welcomed Kath, as Ivy McClellan’s granddaughter, into their family. It is funny to see people walk up on Kath, wondering if she is talking to herself, when she is really talking with Geneva, who brilliantly suggests she keep her cell phone handy and hold it up for others to see if noticed. I enjoy seeing Geneva again, who often moans and wails. Kath speaks one day of how Geneva “followed me out front, like my own personal Great Dismal Fog” (pg. 51). Kath also learned more about Granny through the eyes and memories of John Yarn Berry, a sailor who would have loved to take the lovely widow out on his schooner on one of his long travels. She came to appreciate this friend of Granny’s, including what he shared about his mother’s maiden name and meaning.
The author shares a great sense of humor throughout the novel, even more remarkable when it is least expected. She expresses the feelings of the characters well throughout, whether grief, anger, or the air of spectral desolation. I am very impressed with how many strands there are to the fiber of the deaths, especially since part of the key might lie with whether Will is guilty of the murder two years ago. This is also a novel of friendship, the friendship of the women to work together to try to find who really killed Shannon and where Eric Lyle is. It is about seeing the friendship of women who are willing to apologize to each other as well as laugh together. Those friends who are willing to face down the traveling photojournalists to find what they are really in town for. The ending brought a few surprises! While I was busy following red herrings, the truth came out, and I was probably half right…but half wrong. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy reading about fiber art business, and well-written cozy mysteries with a served with humor, grit, grief, and a slightly neurotic, despondent ghost.