On Her Life
by Mary Marks is a cozy mystery with a different perspective.
Some would think that a story with quilts could not make a
good mystery, but Marks can stich everything together. She
is one of a few mystery authors who has a Jewish protagonist.
author explained why she used the quilt angle. “I have
made quilts for twelve years. I decided to write about them,
which turned into this quilt series. As we speak, I am happily
doing it. I love to use patterns and color in my quilts that
I make for family and friends.”
The character, Martha Rose, is an observant
Jew who has a passion for quilting and solving murders. She
uses her close-knit friends and family to bounce off ideas,
specifically her fiancé, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives agent Yossi Levy, and her son-in-law,
LAPD detective Noah Kaplan.
“I wrote her as a fifty-year-old
who is Jewish, divorced, and overweight. She is compassionate,
intelligent, and will jump into situations, sometimes without
considering the consequences. I wanted to write about a Jewish
woman because Cozy Mysteries do not have these types of characters.
In my books, I put some Jewish culture.”
In this installment, a young girl,
Poppy Halaby, rings Martha’s doorbell, begging for help.
She is the foster child of Martha’s neighbor, after
becoming an orphan when her parents were murdered by a killer
who was never caught. She learns that Poppy is a possible
witness and that her parents were part of a mixed marriage.
The mother was an Orthodox Jew, and the father, a Muslim.
It was agreed to raise Poppy as Jewish and teach her about
her Muslim heritage. Both families disowned the couple and
refused to take in Poppy after the parents were killed. While
Martha is trying to get one of the families to take Poppy
in, her fiancé is attempting to find the murderer,
having the feeling that it is linked to the father being an
FBI Agent. He decides that Poppy is endangered, so he puts
her in a witness protective program along with her foster
parent and assigns ATF agent Hector Fuentes as a protector
This story combines detective work
and religious bickering presented with little tidbits of the