by Cynthia Chow
& Sandra Murphy
Check out these fun June Penguin mysteries involving weddings and crafts–we have Engaged in Murder by Nancy Parra, Night of the Living Thread by Janet Bolin, Thread End: An Embroidery Mystery by Amanda Lee, and Yarn Over Murder: A Knitting Mystery by Maggie Sefton.
Engaged in Murder By Nancy Parra
Review by Sandra Murphy
You’ve read the reviews for Parra’s Gluten for Punishment and Murder Gone A-Rye from the Baker’s Treat mysteries here at Kings River Life. Now she has a new series, Perfect Proposals.
Pepper Pomeroy was an event planner until the economy crisis sent her to the ranks of the unemployed. Look at the bright side though. At least now she has time to help Warren plan the perfect proposal to Pepper’s sister Felicity.
What girl wouldn’t be impressed with the results? The question is popped on a private plane at a small airport. Once the answer is yes, champagne corks pop too. The whole thing is caught on video before the happy couple whisks away to New York for a weekend celebration that includes Broadway shows and fancy restaurants.
Well, there is one thing that could spoil the day–there’s a guy who’s dead drunk in the ladies room. Pepper makes an executive decision and lets him stay there. After all, who needs a drunk wandering around to photo bomb the perfect proposal?
After the plane takes off, Pepper’s alone on the hanger. She decides before gathering up all her gear, she’d better call somebody about the drunk. The police tell her to contact airport security and she thinks maybe she’d better make sure he’s still there before raising too much of an alarm.
He is and it’s now apparent, he was never going anywhere ever again. A dead guy would have really been a bummer!
Now things are getting complicated. It seems that the man works as a janitor at the airport and has been known to overindulge while gambling. It’s hard to raise extra funds on a janitor’s salary but blackmail makes a nice sideline. Unfortunately, one of the things Warren told Felicity after the proposal is that he is rich–like ultra-rich. He wanted to make sure the woman he proposed to loves him for himself, not the big bucks that come with him. Too bad it makes him a prime candidate for blackmail.
Pepper’s family pressures her to make sure Felicity’s big chance for happy-ever-after isn’t derailed by Warren going to jail for a murder they’re sure he didn’t commit. Really, what could it hurt to ask a few questions? Pepper soon finds out.
Word of the proposal’s success got around before Warren’s difficulties with the law so Pepper has a couple of new clients for her newly formed proposal/engagement party business. It’s hard to reconcile the happiness of the couples with Pepper’s own dismal love life. She’s been dating Bobby, the high school football star for years, always hoping the jock will make her happy. Not going to happen but there is hope on the horizon.
It’s refreshing to see an amateur have a good relationship with a police detective without getting involved with him personally. After all, Detective Murphy is old enough to be her father. There is a lot of humor in the relationship between the two of them, particularly when a lock is installed on the office door after one of Pepper’s impromptu visits.
This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m looking forward to the next installment.
Night of the Living Thread By Janet Bolin
Review by Sandra Murphy
Save the date–Edna and Gord are getting married! Everybody will be there including Edna’s annoying mother, all the local shop owners, friends and family–and zombies. One of the surprises in store is a huge, garish, over-the-top-even-for-Edna bridal skirt. It has bells and whistles, lights (seriously) glow-in-the-dark thread, frills, ruffles and its own built in music. It’s so heavy it had to be mounted on wheels. Everyone helped make it into the best conversation starter gag gift possible.
Willow Vanderling is the owner of In Stitches, a machine embroidery shop. Her BFF, Haley, always claims she has three moms and one of them is Edna, a woman who takes “bling” a step too far and makes it work. The wedding coincides with the Halloween fair and a zombie convention. The zombie apocalypse takes place in a wooded area of the park and is a great success.
Of course, things can’t go too smoothly. Willow gets an early morning wakeup call from her mom, Senator Wanda Vanderling, who announces she’s volunteered Willow’s spare room to the daughter of one of her supporters. When will she arrive? Why, she’s at the front door now!
Spoiled doesn’t begin to describe Brianna. She’s supposed to be a sales rep for thread but shows little interest in actually selling anything, even though the products are good ones. She stays up late, plays music louder than loud, doesn’t clean up her room and expects Willow to make the meals and clean the kitchen as well. Worst of all, she doesn’t like Willow’s two dogs and kittens. Then there’s the matter of the phone–Brianna says she’s talking to her boyfriend, but Willow doubts that he’s the voice behind a recording that tells the weather–in Australia. It’s an excuse/alibi for Brianna to be out and about, maybe with Clay’s hot cousin, Dare, who writes equally hot books. He’s landed on Clay’s doorstep and has manners equal to Brianna’s.
The Halloween fair brought fortune tellers, book sellers and more to town. Some are pretty much a stretch to be included as Halloween. One of them, Isis, insists she can cast spells and should be respected because of it. She is less than popular with the townspeople and other vendors. It’s no surprise she’s found dead but was it an accident, a prank gone bad or murder?
Since Edna’s skirt was used as a murder weapon, Edna is a prime suspect. Willow and Haley want to help the investigation. Usually Vicki, make that Police Chief Smallwood, would tell them to butt out but this time she has help in the form of Detective Neffting who seems focused on Edna as the killer.
I have a feeling we’ll see more of Edna’s mom in upcoming books. She’s seems ready to settle in for the duration. It doesn’t look like Dare is in a rush to leave Clay’s house either. Brianna, well, we can only hope she’s on her way soon. It would be totally unfair to let readers like zombies Floyd and Lenny and not bring them back so cross your fingers.
At the back of the book, you’ll find Willow’s directions for an embroidered wedding card and tips on how to make a 3D free-standing embroidery lace figure or structure.
Previous books include: Dire Threads, Threaded for Trouble, Thread and Buried (reviewed for KRL)
Thread End: An Embroidery Mystery By Amanda Lee
Review by Cynthia Chow
As the owner of Seven-Year Stitch embroidery shop, Marcy Singer is thrilled to finally be attending the Tallulah Falls Museum’s antique tapestries and textiles exhibit with her good friend, librarian Rajani “Reggie” Singh. While their escorts accompany them with the intention of earning brownie points for passing up an evening of television reruns, the fact that Ted Nash and Manu Singh are, respectively, Tallulah Falls’ head detective and police chief proves to be a fortunate bonus. It seems that a Professor Geoffrey Vandehey, suspected of stealing a multi-million dollar Cezanne from a private collector, is believed to be in the area and very interested in the museum’s collection.
It is not until the next morning that Marcy makes the unwelcome discovery of a rolled-up kilim rug from the museum dumped in the alley behind her shop. Much more unpleasant is that the body of Professor Vandehey is bundled inside, especially as it allows the intrusion of the similarly distasteful and officious FBI Special Agent Floyd Brown.
Normally, Manu and Ted would be doing all they could to keep Marcy’s nose out of the investigation, but with her recent track record Ted’s “Inch High Private Eye” – his affectionate nickname for her which truly isn’t as condescending as it sounds – has the experience and knowledge of textile art to make her a valuable asset. Chad Cummings, a venture capitalist who embodies the phrase “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing,” blusters into town on the trail of the professor who declared that Cummings was selfishly hoarding it from the public. While this definitely makes him a suspect, also in line as potential murderers are the Agent whose career was nearly destroyed by the theft, as well as the art curator who fears that he may be implicated in the theft.
By this seventh in the series Amanda Lee has mastered the art of crafting very likable characters who are eccentric, lovable, and definitely people readers will enjoy. Even Marcy’s nemesis Nellie Davis, owner of the aromatherapy store Scentsibilities, is toned down, even if only temporarily. Ted, Marcy, and her Irish Wolfhound Angus, make an adorable trio now that Marcy’s romantic dilemmas have been resolved in such a satisfying manner, although the news that Ted’s mother is in town is sure to disrupt Marcy’s complacency. The world of art and those driven to collect it is ripe with potential for exploration, and the author takes full advantage of this affluent realm and its inhabitant. Good humor, familiar and likable characters, and a compelling plot that explores the commerce of art keep this series fresh and reliably entertaining.
Yarn Over Murder: A Knitting Mystery By Maggie Sefton
Review by Cynthia Chow
Beginning minutes after the conclusion of Close Knit Killer, Kelly Flynn and her friends of Fort Connor, Colorado, are off and running to save the alpaca ranch owned by Jayleen Swinson from a rampaging wildfire. As they gather trucks and trailers to rescue the alpacas and whatever else they can pack in to take to the ranch owned by Andrea Holt, they are shocked by the shrieking arrival of their fellow House of Lambspun knitter Connie Carson.
The middle of a blazing wildfire should be the last place for a soap operatic confrontation, but that’s what they get when Connie accuses Andrea of husband-stealing and interfering with Connie and Jim’s reconciliation. Contributing to the awkwardness is the presence of Andrea’s own ex-husband Dennis, who reveals himself to be surprisingly helpful despite his homeless status and suspicious presence at one of Kelly’s previous encounters with murder.
The rescue of Jayleen’s ranch proves to be successful, but it is tragically accompanied by the discovery of Andrea’s body crumpled at the bottom of her steps. With Connie being unusually silent and only reluctantly admitting to further last-minute confrontations with her rival, the knitters are all too aware that Connie is the most likely suspect of the police. Worse, the police might even be right.
The pleasure of this series comes from the delightful interactions between Kelly, her boyfriend Steve Townsend, and the rest of their friends. They will dine together over tempting meals, banter and tease one another, compete in a league softball match, and of course, engage in a lot of companionable knitting.
As the details of the wildfire and the battle to stop it are shared, Kelly continues to look for the truth behind Andrea’s death. The support of her friends, including the retired police officer who has been her mentor and father figure, are vital both to Kelly’s investigation and her growth as a person. This twelfth in the series follows their detecting pragmatically, as the mystery is solved through quiet questions while never giving up their normal lives. The suspense is heightened by the continual threat of the waxing and waning fire, whose presence continues to menace their homes and their lives. Likable characters, realistic dialogue, and the relationships between the knitters make this a cozy read perfect for a relaxing escape.
To enter to win a copy of all 4 mysteries, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “June,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 21, 2014. U.S. residents only.
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