Threadbare
Monica Ferris


ISBN-10:
0425243583
ISBN-13: 978-0425243589
Publisher: Penguin Group
Line: Berkley Hardcover
Release Date: Dec 6, 2011
Pages: 272
Retail Price: 24.95



Genre: Mystery
Rating:

When an elderly homeless woman is found dead on the shore of Lake Minnetonka, she's wearing something that holds the key to her identity but also opens up a mystery. Embroidered on her blouse is her will, in which she bequeaths everything she owns to her niece-Emily Hame, a member of the Monday Bunch at Betsy Devonshire's Crewel World needlework shop!

Emily's aunt turns out to be the second homeless woman to be found dead under mysterious circumstances. It's up to Betsy to discover the common thread between the deaths-and to determine if a murderer may strike again...


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Review

When the bodies of two homeless women are found buried in the snow in Excelsior, Minnesota, needlecraft-shop owner and amateur sleuth Betsy Devonshire doesn’t have cause to believe she’ll soon be investigating their deaths; there’s no sign of foul play, and the toxicology screens performed on the corpses didn’t turn up any sign of poison.  Regardless of where the evidence points, however, Sergeant Mike Malloy is convinced there’s something off about the way the women died.  Plus, both women had relatives who live in Excelsior – relatives with definite motives for murder (and who just happen to be regular customers at Betsy’s store).

Betsy knows her customers are innocent, but she can’t deny that something fishy is going on, and before she knows it, she’s once again embroiled in an active police investigation.  Can Betsy clear her customers’ good names and provide some closure to the friends and families the deceased left behind?

Threadbare is the fifteenth in Monica Ferris’ Needlecraft Mystery series, and my feelings on it are decidedly mixed.  Yes, the premise is interesting, and the mystery is both compelling and cleverly constructed, but the pacing is so uneven that there were times I had to force myself not to skim.  The opening chapter throws you straight into the center of the action, but then the next hundred pages or so are so bogged down by superfluous characters and random info dumps that it’s difficult to keep one’s mind from wandering along with the plot.  Thankfully, things pick up again once the tale reaches the halfway point and focus returns to the investigation, and the end of the book is actually a heck of a lot of fun – I just wish getting there didn’t require quite so much effort.

As for Ferris’ cast, it, too, has its strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, Betsy’s a kind, caring, and tenacious heroine, and the homeless people with whom she interacts are likable, nuanced, and fully three-dimensional.  Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the series regulars who appear in the book.  Particularly annoying are Betsy’s assistant Godwin and her boyfriend Connor, both of whom are so over-the-top as to seem cartoonish, and actually serve to detract from the story.

The bottom line?  If you’re a fan of Ferris’ Needlecraft Mysteries, you’ll probably enjoy this book quite a bit.  Ditto if you’re a fan of needlecraft-themed mysteries in general, or if you’re drawn toward the cozier end of the spectrum and don’t mind slogging through some dry parts to get to the good stuff.  But if you’re looking for an evenly paced, hang-on-to-your-seat kind of tale, you may do well to set your sights elsewhere.

Reviewed by Kat


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