By Debbie Wiley, Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer
I have been fascinated with crafts since my great aunt gave me a wooden knitting board and a macramé kit many years ago. Admittedly, I’ve never considered myself exceptionally talented, but the mere process of loom knitting can be very soothing, almost as soothing as reading a good book. There are a lot of great cozy mysteries out there about various crafts, anything from a custom teddy bear shop such as in BEAR WITNESS TO MURDER by Meg Macy, to glassmaking (including glass beads!) in Cheryl Holland’s DOWN IN FLAMES. There’s a little something for everyone when it comes to crafty cozy mysteries, but the ones featuring the fiber arts like knitting, crocheting, embroidery, and quilting appeal to me the most. Here are a couple great series to get you started!
KNOT ON HER LIFE, the latest in Mary Marks’ Quilting Mystery series, makes me wish I had a quilting circle near me with people as patient with newcomers as the characters in the book. Martha Rose jumps in to help a neighbor with her foster child and finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Mary Marks gives quilting tips in every book and explains quite a bit about both the art and the history of quilting. She does a marvelous job of showing us how quilting unites generations of mainly women across time.
In that same vein, Sally Goldenbaum’s Queen Bees Quilt Shop series focuses on a group of quilters who have developed a friendship through their craft. A THREAD OF DARKNESS features Po Paltrow and Kate Simpson as they try to help a friend accused of murdering his wife. Sally Goldenbaum also shows us how quilting can create bonds between diverse personalities. However, my favorite aspect is how we see quilting as art with a story to tell, and Sally Goldenbaum does this well. The Queen Bees Quilt Shop isn’t Sally Goldenbaum’s only fiber arts-related series, either, as she also writes the Seaside Knitters series that currently sits on my TBR pile.
Lea Wait tackles the art of embroidery in her Mainly Needlepoint series. The first book, TWISTED THREADS, focuses on Angie Curtis’ homecoming and her introduction to her grandmother’s needlepoint business. The business is in trouble when Angie first arrives, and I’m excited about the prospect of glomming this series. TWISTED THREADS starts each chapter with a historical snippet about embroidery and sewing, varying from quotes on samplers to historical facts to something from a Charles Dickens book. THREAD ON ARRIVAL just recently released, and the ninth book, THREAD AND BURIED, comes out in December so I’ve got some catching up to do!
DEATH BY DESIGN is Paula Darnell’s second book in the DIY Diva Mystery series and begins with a pillow class. Laurel MacMillan teaches a class on various sewing and embroidery techniques for pillows and finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation when someone is smothered by one of the pillows created in her class. DEATH BY DESIGN is a little different from the other books in that it incorporates the sewing into a practical, albeit potentially beautiful, project. A pillow project is included with DEATH BY DESIGN.
Holly Quinn’s A CRAFTER HOOKS A KILLER focuses on any crafter’s dream store, Community Craft. Sammy Kane is running the store now, keeping her best friend’s dream alive of a crafting community where people can shop, craft, or just drop in and chat about their various crafting pursuits. Various themed crafting events, including a Nancy Drew theme, are discussed and I wish such a place existed near me as I would love to visit such a welcoming environment. Sammy has a mystery to solve in the midst of everything, and I love how Holly Quinn pulls all the pieces together.
Many other cozy mysteries focus on crafts as I’ve only mentioned a few here. What are some of your favorites?
BOOKS MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE:
As autumn air settles into the quaint small town of Silver Hollow, there’s nothing more popular than Sasha’s teddy bears—and murder in cold blood . . .
Silver Bear Shop and Factory manager Sasha Silverman is cozying up to the fall season by hosting Silver Hollow’s Cranbeary Tea Party, the opening event of the village’s Oktobear Fest—a too-cute celebration themed around teddy bears. She barely has a moment to agonize over the return of her former high school rival, Holly Parker, whose new toy and bookstore in town could spell big trouble for the Silver Bear Shop and her cousin’s small bookstore . . .
But when Sasha discovers Holly’s shop assistant dead with a knife plunged in her body, the unpleasant woman suddenly looks like a real backstabber. So does Sasha’s ex-husband, rumored to have rekindled the fiery extramarital affair he once had with the victim. Now, before a gruesome homicide case takes the fun out of both the Fest and her personal life, Sasha must identify the true culprit from a daunting suspect list—or risk becoming as lifeless as one of her stuffed bears . . .
Mystery Cozy [Kensington, On Sale: May 29, 2018, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781496709653 / eISBN: 9781496709653]
Buy BEAR WITNESS TO MURDER: Amazon.com | Kindle
| BN.com | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Ripped Bodice | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR
A fatal hit-and-run in front of Savannah Webb’s glass shop proves to be no accident . . .
A highlight of Savannah’s new glass bead workshop is a technique called flame-working, which requires the careful wielding of acetylene torches. Understandably, safety is a top priority. But as Savannah is ensuring her students’ safety inside, a hit-and-run driver strikes down a pedestrian outside her shop.
The victim is Nicole Borawski, the bartender/manager at the Queen’s Head Pub, owned by Savannah’s boyfriend Edward. It quickly becomes clear that this was no random act of vehicular manslaughter. Now the glass shop owner is all fired up to get a bead on the driver—before someone else meets a dead end . . .
Mystery Cozy [Kensington, On Sale: June 25, 2019, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781496711793 / eISBN: 9781496711809]
While quilter Martha Rose awaits the birth of her granddaughter, a neighborhood girl appears at her door with a mystery that can’t be pinned down…
Martha’s eager to finish the baby quilt she’s making for her new granddaughter, but she scraps those plans when a young girl rings her doorbell begging for help. Poppy Halaby, the foster child of Martha’s neighbor, is an orphan whose parents were murdered by a killer who was never caught. When Poppy’s doting foster mom falls suspiciously ill, Martha is determined to keep the child safe. But she’ll have to unravel more about Poppy’s parents to stitch a broken family back together again–and prevent another crime cut from the same cloth…
Praise for Mary Marks and her Quilting Mysteries
“A pleasurable and satisfying addition to any quilting mystery fan’s reading list.”
–Library Journal on Knot in My Backyard
“A mystery combined with wry humor.”
–Kirkus Reviews on Knot My Sister’s Keeper
Mystery Cozy [Kensington, On Sale: July 30, 2019, Mass Market Paperback, ISBN: 9781496720504 / ]
The national bestselling author of the Seaside
Knitters mysteries returns to find the Crestwood Quilters on
pins and needles when a killer strikes. . .
As owners of the popular bistro The French Quarter, former
New York City restauranteurs Picasso and Laurel St. Pierre
are the toast of the town of Crestwood, Kansas. Chef
Picasso’s culinary creations delight the women of the
quilting club, who have embraced him as a friend. But
Laurel’s anti-social behavior confuses Kate Simpson—until
she spots Mrs. St. Pierre with another man in what appears
to be a lover’s spat.
Gossip travels fast in a small town like Crestwood, and
rumor has it this isn’t Laurel’s first indiscretion. She
also filed a police report accusing Picasso of domestic
abuse. And when Laurel’s murdered body is found Picasso is
the prime suspect. To prove their friend’s innocence, Kate
and the Crestwood Quilters must uncover the secrets of
Laurel’s past—a patchwork history wrapped up in Kate’s own
teenage years . . .
Mystery Cozy [Lyrical Press Underground, On Sale: July 2, 2019, e-Book, ISBN: 9781516109081 / eISBN: 9781516109074]
In this coastal New England town, folks take care of the needy—but someone is killing without kindness . . .
Ike Hamilton is a part of the Haven Harbor community just like anyone else, though he’s fallen on hard times and has to make do on disability checks and deposit bottles. Most of the locals do what they can to help him out, and needlepointing partners Angie and Sarah are happy to see him at the annual Blessing of the Fleet, honoring all those lost at sea over the centuries.
But when harmless Ike is stabbed, suspicion quickly falls on a troubled teenage boy who’s new in town. Angie’s convinced that young Leo is innocent—but if he didn’t do it, who did? Turns out Ike may have appeared simple-minded, but he knew a few secrets that someone might have murdered him to keep quiet. Angie sets out to trace Ike’s bottle-collecting route to find out what he witnessed—and for this killer, there may be no redemption . . .
Mystery Cozy [Kensington, On Sale: April 30, 2019, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781496716736 / eISBN: 9781496716743]
A DIY Diva Mystery
DIY Diva Laurel McMillan rejoices when her student Jennifer’s peacock pillow wins a design contest; that is, until Jennifer’s husband Matt is smothered with the very same pillow. When the police confiscate her prize-winning pillow, Jennifer freaks out, and Laurel fears that Jennifer may be more upset about losing the pillow than about Matt’s death. But the police arrest disgraced nurse Edna Elkins, not Jennifer. Begging Laurel to find the real killer, Edna insists she’s innocent, but Laurel’s not so sure, and when Laurel encounters Jennifer while walking her lovable Labrador retriever, Bear, she’s left with more questions than answers. Should the crafty DIY Diva play DIY Detective or does Edna really belong in jail?
Includes recipes and pillow project instructions.
This is the second book in the DIY Diva Mystery series.
Sure to delight fans of Betty Hechtman and Maggie Sefton,
A Crafter Hooks a Killer is the second installment in Holly
Quinn’s Handcrafted mysteries.
Community Craft proprietor Sammy Kane suspects that a tantalizing thread links the deaths of her best friend and a
bestselling author. But can she weave together the clues?
Samantha “Sammy” Kane is settling into her new life in idyllic Heartsford, Wisconsin, running her late friend Kate Allen’s craft shop, Community Craft when one early June day, bestselling crochet author Jane Johnson visits Heartsford. Captivated by Community Craft, Jane devotes a chapter in her new book, Behind the Seams,
to the store. Sammy is honored, though satisfaction quickly turns to shock when she finds Jane strangled to death—her cold hands clutching a copy of her most recently published book, with the words “THE END” raggedly scratched into the cover.
Heavens to Etsy! Not only must Sammy contend with the author’s inauspicious demise, she has to untie some knotty details from her own past. It turns out Kate’s death was not what it seemed, and instead somehow hooked to Jane Johnson’s demise. Handsome Detective Liam Nash is on the “skein”, more than happy to see the shop owner again, if less than enamored by her sleuthing interventions. But this was Sammy’s best friend—she has to know.
Fortunately, Sammy has a “lace” in the hole. As a child, she formed the S.H.E. detective team with her cousin, Heidi, and her sister, Ellie. Having already reconstituted their partnership, the S.H.E. team searches for a pattern behind the latest death. As the case starts to unravel, will Sammy and team be able to sidestep Liam quick enough to stitch together the clues?