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Dangerous Alterations
Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries, No 5
Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Berkley Prime Crime
Nov 2011/ 978-0-425-24461-6

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

After two years, Sweet Briar has really started to feel like home to librarian Tori Sinclair. She loves running the library, adores her friends in the Sweet Briar Ladies sewing circle, and has opened her heart to love once again. Tori has dealt with a broken heart in the past, and with accusations of murder in Sweet Briar, but all that is behind her now.

One day, she goes along with friends to support their friend Rose, during a treatment for her arthritis pain at a local clinic. She’s shocked when she looks up and sees her ex-fiancée’s great-aunt. The great-aunt, Vera, drops dead of a heart attack on the spot. Tori is shocked and saddened, but things get worse when her ex-fiancée, Jeff , shows up in town and lets it be known that he believes that he and Tori should get back together. He’s evidently come into sudden money and it has only heightened his ego and prompted behavior that is more pompous than ever before.

Before Tori knows what has hit her, Jeff keels over dead while jogging. The problem is that he was in excellent health and worked in the fitness field. There is no reason he should have died so young. After the autopsy is performed, Jeff’s death is ruled murder. Although Tori herself isn’t really a suspect this time, she is worried that her present boyfriend might be involved. Her doubts about him haunt her, and lead her to pursue her own leads. The police have told her to leave it alone, but she just has to know the story for herself; especially after a fire at her beloved library makes things personal.

This is a well-rounded book, with the murder mystery being the main theme, but sharing nearly equal space with the themes of friendship, trust, and small town regional mannerisms. The women are special to each other, even when there is in-fighting. One woman, Leona, even has a pet rabbit, which pulls a stunt of its own that will surprise readers.

The camaraderie of this group of southern women is so true to life that it made me wish for women just like them to be in my circle of friends. They share sewing, food, and even a weekend getaway to a vacation spot just perfect for their needs.

Readers of this series will likely already be set to dive into this latest installment. If you hadn’t heard it was out yet, hurry to get your copy now. You won’t be sorry, and you will come away with a down-home happy feeling, fueled by the friendships, the resolution of the mystery without anyone placing themselves in needless danger, and by the helpful sewing tips at the back of the book.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Deadly Notions #4
Dangerous Alterations
Reap What You Sew #6
Let It Sew #7
Remnants of Murder #8
Taken In #9


Reviewed 2011