Publication Date: June 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 336pp
(Received for review from Berkley Prime Crime/ Obsidian)
Excerpt from Dire Threads
Synopsis (Book Blurb):
In the village of Threadville, Pennsylvania, beautiful textiles are the main attraction. But when a prominent town figure is murdered, the close-knit community starts unraveling at the seams...
Newly minted shopkeeper Willow Vanderling is anxious to see her embroidery store succeed. And while In Stitches is a hit withe tourists, the town's zoning commissioner, Mike Krewbach, isn't exactly a fan. After denying Willow's plan to renovate the charming cottage behind the shop, Mike attempts to trick some tourists into signing a petition to knock it down to make way for an ATV trail. Furious over Mike's trickery, Willow picks a fight with the corrupt commissioner.
When Mike later turns up dead in her yard. Threadville's newest outspoken resident becomes the prime suspect. With the evidence stacked against her, Willow will have to find the murderer, or else the next thing she embroiders may be an orange prison jumpsuit...
Dire Threads is the first book in a the Threadville Mystery series by debut author Janet Bolin. Bolin, a new voice in the cozy mystery sub-genre, will thrill fans with her sharp wit, creative plot and engaging characters. Readers who are also crafters will fall in love with this novel, centered around a group of textile shops in New England. With fabrics, yarn and embroidery supplies a plenty, this mystery will be a hit with cozy fans around the country.
Willow Vnderling has just opened her new shop called In Stitches in beautiful Elderberry Bay, Pennsylvania, affectionately known as Threadville, by tourists who flock to the area to take classes and learn about everything from machine embroidery, sewing, and knitting to quilting and accessorizing. Willow jumped at the chance to start her new shop when her best friend Haylee and the "three weird mothers" moved the area and began their own shops. But when she decides to renovate, a quaint cottage on her property, the local zoning commissioner, Mike Krewbach has a different idea. He wants to tear down Blueberry cottage in favor of opening the lake trail to ATV traffic. Willow and her friends are outraged and ready to take matters into their own hands. When Mike turns up dead in Willow's back yard, she's the most likely suspect, since she's new and town and was heard to say she'll kill Mike if anything happened to the cottage. It's up to Willow to prove she didn't do the crime before she ends up counting stitches from the prison yard.
Janet Bolin centers her new cozy mystery series about crafting and textiles. I have seen several cozy books that deal with everything from home repair to knitting and the local PTA, but this is the first one I've come across that uses machine embroidery as a catalyst for murder. I found the subject itself very interesting. I consider myself a crafty person and i do a lot of cross stitching and hand embroidery but I haven't had much experience with using an embroidery sewing machine and I know that other crafty readers will realy enjoy this aspect of the book as well. Bolin does a remarkable job at describing techniques and applications used in this type of work. The description of "stump work" really caught my attention. I also enjoyed the crafting project included at the end of the novel.
The mystery aspect of the book was well written as well. It is easy for the reader to see how Willow would become the prime suspect in the crime since the murder took place in her back yard. But Bolin also plays on the idea of Willow being an outsider and the residents of Elderberry Bay being watchful and even threatened by her presence in their town. But, it seems that Mike Krewbach had a way about him that grated on some peoples nerves and he had accumulated several enemies throughout his life. The suspect list is quite long and includes everyone from relatives to the mayor of Threadville and Bolin keeps the reader guessing all the way to the end. And all the time she setting up the series, by giving the reader background on the residents and the area. I thought she did a great job of providing a lot to go on in future books in the series.
Willow is a great heroine and readers will fall in love with her spunky attitude and her love for crafts and her pets. She is portrayed as a little hesitant and unsure of herself in the beginning but as the book goes on we see her start to come out of her shell and get to know the other townspeople. I think readers will like the fact that she took a chance on a dream of owning her own shop and ran with it. I certainly wish I could do that! Willow also has a knack for noticing things that other people don't seem to see. The connections between people and things, the clues that others take for granted. She is shaping up to be a really good amateur sleuth and I look forward to reading more of her adventures as the series progresses.
Bolin's secondary characters are so much fun in this one. Haylee is Willow's best friend and readers will certainly fall in love with her mother and her best friends, known as the ''three weird mothers". Opal, Naomi, and Edna are such great characters, so colorful and energetic. Each woman has a shop in Threadville and they use the theme of each shop in their clothing. They added a lot of comic relief to the book and I felt like readers would really enjoy reading about them. There was a love interest for both Haylee and Willow, but Bolin left both relationships very open ended and readers will forward to see what happens with both Symthe and Clay. The other townspeople were interesting and there is a lot of potential for great stories with this group.
I really enjoyed this one and I recommend it to all my cozy fans and other mystery readers as well. If you loved Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon as a kid you'll love cozy mysteries. There is a great small-town feel to this book and readers will likely fall in love with all the great people of Elderberry Bay. At just over 300 pages it's a quick read with a great whodunit, that will keep you guessing 'til the last few pages. A great first effort from Bolin and the beginning of a great new cozy series.
Dire Threads is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Dire Threads by Janet Bolin to one lucky winner from Debbie's Book Bag!
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~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST July 2nd.
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