|Crafting for Murder / Barbara Emodi
Concord, CA: C&T Publishing, c2023.
This is the first volume in a projected series of cozy crafter mysteries, by well-known Canadian sewist Barbara Emodi. I just had to read it, having really liked her two sewing books as well as her long-running blog.
It's a fun and light cozy mystery, with many of the expected elements of such -- a middle-aged female protagonist, a dog and cat, a job that leaves lots of room for investigations, and a whole group of side characters that spice up the story.
Valerie Rankin has moved back to tiny Gasper's Cove, Nova Scotia, now that her three children are on their own and she's an empty nester. She's returned to where she grew up, and where she has many cousins of all sorts, and a family business -- a general store -- run by one of them. She helps out there, and also gives sewing lessons in the back room. But her big plan is to open a Crafter's Co-op in the upper room of the store, to promote local craft and make Gasper's Cove into more of a tourist location.
This is where she runs into trouble. They find out that the building's upper floor needs quite a lot of fixing up before they can let people into it, pushing back her plans. She has to consult an engineer, who becomes part of the story. And, she was just interviewed about the Co-op on local radio, but her spot is a little overshadowed by the murder of the radio host the next day.
This book is setting up a series, so there's a lot of scene setting and introduction of characters going on. The action can be a little slow because of it, and because Valerie always seems to get the wrong end of the stick on everything; she does tend to leap to conclusions. But it's still an interesting story, and very true to small town politics (even if two murders back to back in such a small place is a bit unusual). I enjoyed some of the side issues like her relationship with her best friend & cousin Darlene, and the discussion of crafting and what it means to people.
The mystery part of it was puzzling, with lots of suspects and drama. The conclusion was unexpected but made sense within the story, especially as the reader looks back and sees all the subtle clues that were laid down (many of which I missed on first read!) I think this is a great light read and will definitely be checking out book 2 when it's published on Christmas Day this year!