Series: Mainely Needlepoint #3
Published by Kensington on Dec. 29, 2015
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Source: the publisher
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Also in this series: Twisted Threads, Threads of Evidence
Also by this author: Twisted Threads, Threads of Evidence
When a priceless antique is stolen, murder unravels the peaceful seaside town of Haven Harbor, Maine. . .
Angie Curtis and her fellow Mainely Needlepointers know how to enjoy their holidays. But nothing grabs their attention like tying up loose threads. So when Mary Clough drops in on the group's Fourth of July supper with a question about an antique needlepoint she's discovered in her family attic, Angie and her ravelers are happy to look into the matter.
Angie's best guess is that the mystery piece may have been stitched by Mary, Queen of Scots, famous not just for losing her head, but also for her needlepointing. If Angie's right, the piece would be extremely valuable. For safekeeping, Angie turns the piece over to her family lawyer, who places it in a safe in her office. But when the lawyer is found dead with the safe open and ransacked, the real mystery begins. . .
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
I’m continuing to really enjoy this series set in a Maine coastal town. From the way needlepoint is woven into the mysteries without seeming overly contrived, to the seaside town itself, to the first-person heroine, just about every aspect of the series appeals to me. It’s not cutesy; there’s a grittier, more realistic edge to the series that makes it believable without losing its “cozy mystery” appeal.
In this installment, the mystery revolves around a piece of antique needlework that just might be the work of Mary, Queen of Scots. It’s the property of an orphaned young woman, just turning 18 and going through her parents’ effects. Toss in a boyfriend apparently in need of money and pushing for marriage, a few other young adults also eager to pursue better opportunities elsewhere, a lawyer with a convenient safe – and an angry ex-husband, and an apparent robbery-with-murder, and there’s plenty to keep Angie and her friends busy.
Angie is smart, curious, observant, sympathetic, and determined to make Mainely Needlepoint, her grandmother’s small business, a success. She’s also occasionally edgy, drinks a little more than she should, and doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to men. In other words, she’s a flawed but likeable heroine, and I’m glad she’s beginning to settle down in Haven Harbor.
I appreciate that Angie has a background in private investigation, and that she knows when to call in the police. Both factors make her involvement in local mysteries more believable. Unlike some series in which the amateur detective is pitted against the police, Angie is also pretty good at staying on the right side of the law, both literally and in terms of maintaining good relations. I lost a little respect for her in that regard toward the end of this book, however, when she unnecessarily did something dangerous and potentially illegal.
In addition to that incident, a few other things broke my “willing suspension of disbelief” this time around. To begin with, this is the third mystery Angie has been involved in in as many months (if I’m counting correctly.) Granted, it’s always tough to sell a series set in a small town — how many crimes can really occur in one town in a short period of time before you start thinking that either they are all related, or this is a really bad place to live? You can avoid some of that by stringing the mysteries out in time, or (as Nancy Atherton does) by turning a lot of them into amusing misunderstandings rather than serious crimes. I’d be much more willing to accept the crime rate in Haven Harbor if there were at least six months between each mystery.
Second, there’s the whole question of provenance for the alleged Mary Queen of Scots needlework. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’m pretty sure “provenance” has to be more than conjecture to really raise the value of an object like that; you need a fair bit of documentation. It’s a little thing in the overall story, but it was enough to temporary throw me out of the narrative flow.
Despite those relatively minor quibbles, though, I still really love this series, and I’m eagerly looking forward to Angie’s next adventure!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2015