Thread on Arrival
Mainely Needlepoint #8
By Lea Wait
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In this coastal New England town, folks take care of the needy–but someone is killing without kindness . . .
Ike Hamilton is a part of the Haven Harbor community just like anyone else, though he’s fallen on hard times and has to make do on disability checks and deposit bottles. Most of the locals do what they can to help him out, and needlepointing partners Angie and Sarah are happy to see him at the annual Blessing of the Fleet, honoring all those lost at sea over the centuries.
But when harmless Ike is stabbed, suspicion quickly falls on a troubled teenage boy who’s new in town. Angie’s convinced that young Leo is innocent–but if he didn’t do it, who did? Turns out Ike may have appeared simple-minded, but he knew a few secrets that someone might have murdered him to keep quiet. Angie sets out to trace Ike’s bottle-collecting route to find out what he witnessed–and for this killer, there may be no redemption . . . (From Goodreads)
What a great mystery! Haven Harbor, Maine is where Angie returned to after being away for nearly a decade after her high school graduation. It is a delightful town on the coast where many make a living on the sea. Those who call it home are an eclectic group, most being hard-working folks who have known each other much of their lives. The setting is gorgeous, characters show who they are, and the mystery is, at times, confounding.
Angie’s mother disappeared when she was ten. Angie travelled through the country, landing in Mesa, Arizona where she worked for a PI. To me, that would be an exciting job despite some of the divorce stakeouts she participated in. That job enhanced her analytical thinking when faced with a challenge or a murder. Angie’s Gram, Charlotte, has married Reverend Tom and moved into the parsonage, while Angie lives in Gram’s old house and runs the business Charlotte started. Mainely Needlepoint is a group of excellent Maine needlepoint workers who make and sell products on the web site. From items for tourist shops to custom hangings, they are busy year-round.
Angie and boyfriend Patrick are at the Blessing of the Fleet, an annual event of blessing the boats of those who make their living on the ocean and some who sail or go boating for pleasure. It is there that she learns more about the local homeless man, Ike, and his new young friend Leo. Ike lives in the garage on his parents’ property, supplementing his disability by picking up recyclable beverage containers and cashing them in. Some people on the Chamber of Commerce would prefer if he wasn’t there, even tried to send him away to a group home, as their priority is tourism. Many individuals and businesses leave their bottles in a place where Ike can pick them up on his regular “route”. Dave, a high school teacher, met Leo, still a teen, and told him if he ever needed anything, where his house is and to go see him.
Leo showed up at his door when least expected. Angie was there to pick up some needlepoint work Dave had completed – he learned it when living on a submarine in the Navy – when Leo arrived, hands and shirt covered in blood and visibly shaken. Leo had been at the Y, as they allowed Ike and him to take showers there. When he returned, Ike was lying in the garage covered in blood from glass of broken bottles and a knife. The teen had checked to see if Ike was alive, if he could start CPR, but it was too late.
Police Sargent Pete Lambert came to Dave’s home to talk with Leo about what he saw while other officers went to the garage that Ike, and Leo for a few short weeks, called home. Dave and Angie went to the police station to quietly sit in while Leo was questioned. Dave offered Leo a place to stay while the investigation is going on, and Pete makes Dave responsible for Leo’s whereabouts.
Dave and Angie didn’t think Leo killed Ike. They want to talk with Leo more to find out if Ike had any enemies. There were no reports from his hometown of Leo Smith being a runaway. At first, he claimed to be seventeen, old enough to not attend school, then that he wasn’t quite seventeen. As Angie investigates further, she learns that Leo’s real name is Leon Blackwell and his parents died in a horrible explosion that some thought he was behind. These lapses of telling the truth don’t bode well for Leo, as he lied to the police more than once, so how does one know for sure he didn’t kill Ike?
Then, only days later, Jim Lewis died in the emergency room of the local hospital. An MS sufferer, Jim has been a regular at the ER for years for various broken bones, injuries, and pneumonia. He hasn’t been heard speaking to his wife or anyone else for a couple years, so it is a stunned town who hears that he stated who killed Ike and was trying to kill Jim, himself.
Angie and her fellow townspeople are defined through realistic conversations, actions, and the thoughts of Angie herself. I enjoyed getting to know her and Gram, as well as Dave, Patrick, and Leo. Angie continues to learn about the folks in town after her years away. Just because it is a small town doesn’t mean that people aren’t always who they seem to be, however. Someone murdered Ike and, if something caused the massive heart attack Jim died from, him as well. Dave’s past unfolds to Angie as the novel progresses; he has his own reasons for being willing to take in and care for Leo.
This is a satisfying novel on every level. The mysteries are complex; has Ike seen or heard something that he was murdered for? The ER doctor said Ike was injured by somebody several weeks before his murder, perhaps a warning to not tell tales? Did Jim really talk or is the ER nurse making it up to implicate his suspect? As the layers of Leo’s young life are pulled back, he isn’t very well respected by some…but neither was Angie after her mother disappeared. The novel also includes a bit of romance that doesn’t distract from the overall story. The relationships Angie has with Gram and Reverend Tom, Patrick and her close friend Sarah, and her concern for Leo and another teen in town, show how her early challenges tempered rather than embittered her. While I had an idea who might have done the deed, I didn’t get the motives until finishing the novel. Angie is one smart young lady, and I hope there will be more to come I this delightful series. I highly recommend this!