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by Molly Macrae
Pegssus Crime, January 2019
263 pages
ISBN: 1643130080

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Kath Rutledge owns The Weaver's Cat, a fiber arts store in Blue Plum, Tennessee. It's still a fairly recent part of her life; she used to be an academic, specializing in fiber restoration and preservation. So when the Spivey twins (Mercy and Shirley) tell her about a drop-dead table runner over at the Blue Plum Vault, a new co-op for artists of all kinds, Kath just has to go see it. It's as fantastic as the twins thought, although the shop owner, Belinda Moyer, doesn't treat it with the care and respect Kath thinks it deserves. Nervie Bales, another artist at the co-op, insists that Belinda steals her merchandise; no love lost between those two, that's for sure.

The night before the grand opening, Belinda finds the table runner slashed to pieces. Who would do such a thing? And why? Kath is appalled, and more than a little angry at this destruction. Belinda insists that Nervie was the culprit. The police are called in, which makes them a little annoyed; there has been a recent murder and they want to focus their attention on that slightly more heinous crime. There may be a connection, albeit very tenuous, to the Blue Plum Vault. The victim, Garland Brown, had been very instrumental in taking the whole concept from idea to concrete reality. The police aren't ready to make that connection; there isn't any evidence to support it. The following day, during the Grand Opening, Kath finds Belinda's body in a closet, apparently stabbed with a pair of embroidery scissors from The Weaver's Cat. This isn't as clear a clue as it might be; many people at the opening have direct or indirect connections to the Cat. Kath owns it. Nervie teaches classes there. Almost all the regular customers were at the opening. So many options, so little hard information for the police to work with.

Geneva is The Weaver's Cat's resident ghost. Kath can see her, as can Ardis, Kath's assistant and friend. Nobody else can. This makes for some interesting moments in the shop, when Kath or Ardis are conversing with Geneva, and customers are around. Geneva is, at best, a mournful and weepy ghost who doesn't venture far from home. She does go to the Grand Opening, and sees things others can't; she is, however, a classic unreliable narrator. This presents some problems for the Posse, Kath's regular customers who also have helped solve some mysteries in and around the shop.

CREWEL is the sixth installment in the Haunted Yarn Shop series. While it certainly is not necessary to read these in order, it's well worth the time spent. MacRae develops her characters, even the ghost, slowly and completely. Reading about Blue Plum is a joy in itself; the setting is stunning and MacRae captures the beauty and serenity very well. By book six, Blue Plum is a character all by itself; this makes reading about the inhabitants all the more fun. Who wouldn't want to visit a place where Mel's Bakery makes the best scones around? Yes, the recipe is included. The mystery, while complicated enough for most readers, was not as compelling as the lives whirling around the murder. This isn't a criticism, just a comment.

§ I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I have been a preliminary judge for the Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest for at least 25 years. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs.

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, January 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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