Dire Threads Janet Bolin (2011)
***/* 3-4/5 stars sdepending upon which book in the series you read
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Janet Bolin writes a wonderful cosy mystery series set in Elderberry Bay, Pennsylvania on the shores of Lake Erie. Threadville is a small group of shops set up by an enterprising young woman sick of New York City scandal, her three weird mothers and her best friend, Willow. Each woman has her own shop dedicated to yarn, buttons, trims and notions, quilting, fabric, or machine embroidery. It is a stitcher's paradise and they bus themselves in every weekday to take classes from the different shop owners. But not everyone is happy with the transformation that Elderberry Bay has gone through. When Willow's dogs stumble upon a corpse in her back yard, the newby shop owners must defend their businesses, their innocence, and maybe their lives.
What I like most about this series are the characters. The three weird mothers (best friends who decided to raise an out-of-wedlock baby together) are truly wonderful in their eccentricities, wearing only clothes that they have made and bumbling around after their daughter trying to rescue her from imagined danger while real danger waits just down the street. The setting on Lake Erie also appeals to me. Having grown up a few miles from Lake Ontario, Bolin's description of the Great Lakes region is like going home. The most unique aspect, however, is the wonderful and creative descriptions of what you can do with machine embroidery. In the first novel, Willow sets out to do simulated stump work with her sewing machine, and solves a murder in the process. It makes me itch to try the technique myself! There are currently 5 books in the series, with the first, Dire Threads, having been published in 2011 and a new book every year since. The novels follow the general formula for cosy mysteries, but the sewing twists--especially machine embroidery--make them worth the read for stitchers.
Resources about this novel
You can find a synopsis of each book in the series on the Threadville website, along with a string of short updates on the characters and what goes on in their lives outside of and between books--a clever little extra for those who can't get enough of Threadville!