Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
As the leaves begin to fall in idyllic Dappled Hills, someone puts too fine a point on a local ladies’ man. Fortunately, the detective skills of quilter Beatrice Coleman are a cut above the rest….
The Village Quilters of Dappled Hills, North Carolina, are desperate to finish their quilts before an upcoming show. To help, fellow member Posy has opened the back room of her shop, the Patchwork Cottage, for everyone to use. But the ladies are less than thrilled when Phyllis Stitt and Martha Helmsley—members of their rival quilting guild, the Cut-Ups—ask to join them.
Phyllis is hoping to leave the Cut-Ups and join up with the Village Quilters now that Martha’s dating her ex-fiancé, Jason Gore. She’s not pleased when he visits the shop and even more upset when her new shears disappear. After offering to search for them, Beatrice discovers Jason with the shears buried in his unfaithful heart. Now she must sharpen her sleuthing skills to find a killer before someone else’s life is cut short.…
Shear Trouble is the fourth installment in the Southern Quilting Mystery Series. It can easily be read as a stand-alone cozy, as each character is defined as needed for this novel. The writing style is cheerfully uncomplicated, with an opening that captivates dog lovers as well as quilters from literally the first page of the book.
Many of the characters are actively involved in or spoken of within the first two chapters of the novel, and they are delightfully well-rounded. The setting that is central to the mystery, Patchwork Cottage, is also described. The Patchwork Cottage is a quilter’s heaven on earth, with fabric, notions, and all thing quilting. A visiting area and a huge work area in the back room complete the cottage. Even those of us who are needle-challenged might appreciate the quilts on display and the antiques that they are artfully draped near or around.
Posy, owner of The Patchwork Cottage, Beatrice and her friend Meadow plan a quilting retreat for the Village Quilters guild so the ladies can work on their respective quilts together to finish them on time for the upcoming quilt show. It would be a Friday evening of quilting and camaraderie, and Beatrice, still new to Dappled Hills, NC, would get to know her new friends better. Even though her quilt for the show was complete, she planned to bring the Double Wedding Ring quilt she was working in hopes of getting hints from more experienced quilters for areas that were challenging to her.
Dappled Hills, North Carolina seems kind of like a modern Andy Griffith-land, in a good way. There are savvy retired ladies and homemakers, gentle romance, matchmakers, and even a couple eccentric folks. It is hard to think of anybody there as a cold-blooded murderer, or capable of doing anything worse than gossip or drive 30 in a 25 zone. The character development is excellent, with details of various suspects added as needed to enhance the story. Each person contributes their unique texture to the overall design.
Beatrice is a wise, gentle woman who reflects her former profession as a museum curator well. She is a very likable amateur sleuth who is comfortable with herself and kind to the world around her, knowledgeable of many things, and extremely patient with people of various temperaments. Beatrice is an animal lover with a well-behaved Welsh Corgi who is willing to pet-sit or be a short-term “foster mom” for a stray kitten. She is not afraid to ask for help, seeks to participate in her community, and has a keen, analytical mind whether considering a new mystery or a new quilting pattern. She is someone who I would appreciate having for a friend, as are the ladies in her quilting guild.
Elizabeth Craig delivers a fun, well-written cozy mystery. She writes just as comfortably when describing a murder victim as she does a quilt pattern or a cold, hungry kitten. Her subjects are well-researched. Conversations flow smoothly, even with Miss Sissy and Frank Helmsley when either one or the other were not having their finer moments.
From the point of view of someone who doesn’t know much about quilt patterns, I enjoyed and appreciated the cover depiction of the Double Ring Wedding Quilt in progress. Noo-noo, Beatrice’s sweet and loyal Corgi, has the face of a pup who is inviting the prospective reader to “open up and enjoy!” Those who are even slightly familiar with this breed of herding dogs also know that Corgis are friendly, tenacious, yet protective and strong – some of the traits that the reader will see reflected also in Noo-noo’s owner, Beatrice.
I highly recommend Shear Trouble for cozy mystery lovers who enjoy reading about quilting, older female sleuths, and mysteries that are humorous or uncomplicated but are still able to twist an interesting plot that still includes challenges to solving. Young adults as well as adults of all ages could enjoy this tale. And this reader will enjoy reading the earlier and the upcoming Quilting Mysteries!