Last Wool and Testament
A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery #1
By Molly MacRae
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Kath Rutledge is about to learn the true meaning of TGIF—Thank Goodness It’s Fiber.…
That’s the name of the spunky group of fiber and needlework artists founded by Ivy McClellan, Kath’s beloved grandmother. Though Ivy has recently passed on, the members still meet regularly at her fiber and fabric shop, The Weaver’s Cat, which Kath has now inherited. But that’s only the first in a series of surprises when Kath returns to the small town of Blue Plum, Tennessee, to settle her grandmother’s affairs.
There’s been a murder, and it turns out her grandmother was the prime suspect. Before she can begin to clear Ivy’s name, Kath encounters a looming presence in the form of a gloomy ghost. It turns out the specter has just as much interest in solving the murder as Kath. So, with a little help from the members of TGIF—and a stubborn spirit from beyond—she sets out to unravel the clues and hook the real killer.…(from Goodreads)
This cozy mystery is such a treat, I wish I had started reading the series a long time ago! The author grabbed my attention with another series, so I had to start The Haunted Yarn Shop series. The characters are an eclectic blend of women that cover the age spectrum from young adult to octogenarian, making something for every age to appreciate. The author has a great sense of humor, as evidenced primarily through Kath and Geneva, and a complex mystery that is a challenge to solve.
Ivy McClellan, owner of Weaver’s Cat, was one of the best fiber artists in Tennessee. She could do almost any yarn or fiber art, including weaving, building up her business in the filled-to-the-brim 3-story home that the Cat was in. The octogenarian had a cat named Maggie, and a beloved granddaughter, Kath. She died of a heart attack, leaving a stunned granddaughter to attend her burial on her birthday.
Kath is a textile conservationist, working at a university in Illinois, and enjoys her profession. She doesn’t get to see Granny as often as she’d like, but they stay in regular contact. When she learns Granny had passed, then that she has inherited Weaver’s Cat and her Granny’s house, she plans to sell both since she lives too far away to own and oversee it the way Granny would have liked. When arriving in Blue Plum, she meets the obnoxious Deputy Cole Dunbar, who figures Granny died at a convenient time, just when she was a murder suspect. Huh??? Then she learns that the house that was Ivy’s, long paid for, belongs to someone else who is trying to collect for late payment of rent. She has less than a week to clear everything out before the next renter would move in.
Two of the Cat’s long-term employees want to purchase the building and business. A letter Ivy left for her beloved granddaughter brought pause, however, as it sounds like there are things in the shop that she wants Kath to have…if she can find them. Along with something very unusual that Kath inherits, in a sense, from Ivy…something she rejects Granny even had. So many strange things are going on – things go missing, an “accidental” death occurs, then this very pragmatic, introverted woman finds out that a moaning, lamenting, weepy ghost is living in the cottage she has been loaned. When fingers are pointed and odd things happen, Kath just wants to pass go and return home. Instead of collecting $200, she collects a posse. Completely unintentional, but most of the members are in the TGIF group – Thank Goodness It’s Fiber.
The characters are very well-defined, lacking nothing. Kath is intrigued by the shop and the deaths. She wants to find the bad guy to take the black mark off of her grandmother’s legacy. She is a delightful young woman who sometimes needs a filter on her tongue…but at least many things she says are humorous! I like Kath, and some of the down-home type folks in Blue Plum, and wish I had met Ivy (who is not the mournful ghost). Simply watching Kath navigate life and investigating around the specter is at times hilarious! Watching her around Deputy Clod…um…Cole is also fun at times.
The prose is lyrical when describing the surroundings from the environment to the colors of the yarns and the cluttered charm of Granny’s study. I can almost visualize what the author is writing about, and can almost smell the outdoors. I could feel the history of the shop. Take a little time to digest and appreciate of the sheer beauty of Ms. McCrae’s writing style, as well as the emotions evoked by the characters. Sadness, anger, fear, whimsy – all come alive. The mystery and possible suspects are drawn with care, with plot twists and a red herring or three that make it even more interesting. I had my pet suspects, and all I can safely say is I was kind of right even if kind of surprised. I love the final twists! And am pleased with the ending in which everything is resolved. If you haven’t started this series yet and enjoy well-written cozy mysteries with substance, fiber arts, and a paranormal element, I highly recommend it!