Dangling by a Thread
Lea Wait     

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Mainely Needlepoint
Book: 4

The Mainely Needlepointers are about to learn that no man is an island—especially when greedy developers want his land . . .
Hermit Jesse Lockhart lives alone on King’s Island, three miles east of Haven Harbor, Maine, where he’s created a private sanctuary for the endangered Great Cormorants. But when a wealthy family wants to buy the island and Jesse’s cousin Simon petitions for power of attorney to force him to sell, Jesse is the one who becomes endangered.
Mainely Needlepointer Dave Perry, who befriended Jesse in the VA hospital, rallies the group to his defense. Angie Curtis and the ravelers stitch “Save the King’s Island Cormorants” pillows and sell T-shirts to pay for Jesse’s legal counsel. But tragically, on a visit to the island, Angie finds Jesse dead. Now the search is on for a common thread that can tie the murdered man to his killer . . .

Angela Curtis recently returned from Arizona to Haven Harbor, Maine and the house she grew up in. Angie worked for a Private Investigator in Arizona, but now she is managing the needlepoint business her Grandmother had started. Her grandmother still lives in Haven Harbor, but has remarried and has moved in with her new husband, Reverend Tom McCulley at the rectory. Angie is feeling a bit lonely since many of her friends are busy with their own businesses. She becomes acquainted with Jesse Lockhart, called “The Solitary” by some of the town’s locals because he lives along on a small, isolated island with no electricity or running water. The island is a nesting site of a threatened species of sea bird and Jesse takes his self-proclaimed role of the birds’ protector very seriously. When a millionaire with ties to another wealthy family in the area becomes interested in buying the island, Jesse is determined to stop the deal. When it becomes apparent that the birds and Jesse’s solitary way of living isn’t the only thing being threatened, Angie becomes involved to try to protect Jesse from danger or from harming someone else.

Lea Wait’s Dangling by a Thread is a good book, but isn’t what I had expected. I knew a needlepoint group was involved and thought the book would be similar to an Elizabeth Lynn Casey Southern Sewing Circle mystery, with a group of friends trading gossip and clues while working on needlework projects. In this case, there are a group of needlepointers that provide items for Angie’s shop, but her friends work on those items individually and there aren’t regular get-togethers. Once I realized this, then the next thing was getting all of the characters sorted out since I’m new to the series. Once I knew who was who and the plot of the book became more clear, I enjoyed the story.

The situation with Jesse’s troubles and the birds he was trying to protect on the island added more depth than found in some cozies, so I appreciated learning more about the threatened sea birds, called great cormorants, that are featured in the story. The Maine setting is interesting and the author’s descriptions of the scenery and weather gave a fun peek into life in a Northeastern tourist town. Angie is likeable and it’s interesting to read about how she is becoming reacquainted with life in Maine. To keep things light and fun, she has a couple possible love interests. Although the book wasn’t what I thought it would be, it is well-written, and I enjoyed the characters and the story.

~ Christine