Sunday, December 23, 2018

CHOP IT UP: Crewel World by Monica Ferris

"When Betsy arrived in Excelsior, Minnesota, all she wanted was to visit her sister Margot and to get her life in order.  She never dreamed her sister would give her a place to stay and a job at her needlecraft shop.  In fact, things had never looked so good–until Margot was murdered... 
In a town this friendly, it's hard to imagine who could have committed such a horrible act.  But Betsy has a few ideas.  There's an ex-employee who wants to start her own needlework store.  And there's the landlord who wanted Margot out.  Now Betsy's putting together a list of motives and suspects to figure out this killer's pattern of crime..."
Let me tell you what made this book worth the read. What kept it interesting and kept me glued to the pages with all the cozy mystery components aside. Well, I mean sure I could go into all the cozy mystery loving stuff. It had the traditional charming, small town setting. One that's populated with a host of uniquely illustrated characters. Some of those characters were obnoxious, like the always-around-the-corner-to-be-extra-helpful cop named Jill. As well as the town’s potato sack eccentric (named Irene) looking to secure her own business, while giving off chilling vibes to Betsy. Two helpful shop hands who would’ve been better off as the mystery's murderous villain were present as well. And I wished one of the two to have been the culprit in consideration of how the actual culprit of the crime was pretty damn clear. So, as far as mysteries go, there were no surprises there.

Anyway, the needlework hook delivered. The writing was “cozy” and “light,” per the sub-genre's fashion. And it all came together and sold itself nicely. If not anti-climactic in its resolution.

But it’s the main character going through the stages of grief about her sister’s murder that shot this book up there. The author allowed the reader to get to know Betsy’s sister Margot. We got to watch Margot run her needlepoint shop. We got to watch her interact with other townspeople. We got to watch her and Betsy plant seeds toward the beginning of a new relationship with one another. Heck, I loved Margot housing Betsy after Betsy’s second divorce. We, organically, got to know Margot. We got into her life.

So when Betsy discovered Margot's body–on her back with her hands clenched into fists (there was something so painful and sad about this description that I wanted to cry)–it hurt for the reader. I even felt like it cut more for me for Margot to have been murdered–than for Betsy herself. I suppose it was a matter of Betsy’s reaction. Which was rather quiet, unresponsive and somber. But then you realize, as the story progresses, that Betsy is in fact grieving. And continues to mourn in her separate way while using that grief to track down and find her sister’s killer.

This is what fuels Crewel World. And it’s what made it a damn good cozy mystery read. Ferris really made me feel for Margot's murder and Betsy's subsequent determination to solve it.

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