Release Date: Jun 6, 2017
Series: Southern Sewing Circle Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Group
Newlywed Tori Sinclair Wentworth is happy with her husband, Jake, as well as spending time with the friends in her sewing circle. In spite of her happiness, Tori has been troubled lately. Finances for the newly married couple have been tight, but most of all, she is worried about her friend Rose whose health seems to be failing rapidly. The last straw for Tori is when her car breaks down. At her friend Margaret Louise’s suggestion, Tori brings her car to her friend’s son’s shop. The whole town of Sweet Briar was surprised when Jake Davis brought in his old high school football rival, Noah Madden, as a partner in his auto repair business. When Tori drops off her car, Jake is acting strangely, but the awkward situation turns tragic when Tori discovers the dead body of Jake’s new partner. When Jake is arrested for the murder, lines are drawn in the town and Tori is dismayed when even members of her beloved sewing circle are taking sides in the matter, so she becomes even more determined to prove the innocence of Margaret Louise’s son.
This is the twelfth of the Southern Sewing Circle mysteries, which are written by Elizabeth Lynn Casey, a pen name for Laura Bradford, author of the Heavenly, Pennsylvania Amish series and other cozy mysteries. The Sewing Circle series has been a favorite of mine because I like the main character, Tori, and her friendship with a group of women of all ages who have a shared love of sewing. There are some delightful moments in Patterned After Death, but as a fan of this series, I was disappointed. Tori is as likeable and loyal to her friends as other, but the pacing seems off. The book feels like it’s drawn out in the beginning with not much happening in the investigation. Since there is discord in the sewing group over the murder, Tori and her friends don’t all work together to solve the case like they usually do. Tori adds to the problems by her actions and the misunderstanding causes an even greater division within the group. Although this is part of the premise of the story, the camaraderie between all of the friends is greatly missed in this book. Then, after a slow start to the investigation, it seems like the ending is rushed which is a letdown after the big build-up.
Even though they don’t all agree on past conflicts between Jake and Noah, they do come together when it comes to Rose. The ongoing concerns Tori and her friends have about Rose’s health are a nice touch to the book and Tori’s attempts to help and Rose’s defensive actions when she feels like her friends are hovering too closely are touching and relatable. However, the solution to this issue also seems to come out of nowhere without any background or discussion. Readers who have been following this series will like spending time with their favorite characters and seeing the developments in their lives, but new readers may want to start with an earlier installment to really get a feel for the characters and the series.