By Monica Ferris
Berkley Prime Crime - 1999
ISBN: 0425167801
Cozy Mystery

Reviewed by Ellen Kennedy,
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Where does a middle-aged woman go when her high-flying lifestyle has crashed and her marriage is over? In the first book in Monica Ferris' needlecraft mystery series, big-city dweller Betsy Devonshire turns to her sister Margot, a widow with a successful needlecraft shop in Excelsior, Minnesota, a friendly small town which Betsy characterizes as "Mayberry-of-the-North."

Working in Margot's shop, Betsy is able to revive her lagging spirits and learn more about the curious world of needlework, a complicated sub-culture with practices, etiquette, and a language all its own. What she doesn't learn until it's too late is that Margot has a dangerous enemy who is willing to kill to achieve an end-and does.

Now, as Margot's grieving heir, Betsy reluctantly takes on not only the responsibility of a small business, but the job of finding out who could have murdered her kind-hearted, popular sister.

As a cozy mystery fan, I am happily content to wait five chapters for the murder to occur, but other readers may not be so patient. Though admittedly taking her time about it, Ferris establishes strong characterizations in these early chapters and evokes such an appealing ambiance about the real-life town of Excelsior that I hope the Chamber of Commerce takes note.

The clues to the perpetrator are subtle, but fairly sprinkled throughout the book and the solution to the mystery, when revealed, is both intriguing and satisfying. Best of all, Betsy Devonshire grows through this poignant and harrowing experience and emerges as a person we like, respect and would want to meet again.


Ellen Edwards Kennedy is the author of Irregardless of Murder.

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