Friday, September 21, 2007

String of Lies - Mary Ellen Hughes


String of Lies
A Craft Corner Mystery
Mary Ellen Hughes
Berkley Prime Crime

Mystery/Cozy

After several months in tiny Abbotsville, Maryland, Jo McAllister is making great strides. Her shop, Jo’s Craft Corner has become a popular destination for casual crafters and workshop attendees. The owners of the other small shops along the street share a camaraderie not found often outside of small towns. Jo is understandably surprised when she sees that a successful florist is going out of business. The owner tells her that developer Parker Holt bought the building that houses her shop, and declined to renew her lease. In fact, he plans to buy up as many of the quaint shops as he can, tear them all down, and build something modern on the land.

Parker Holt is not a well-liked name in Abbotsville. Most recently, he managed to tear down the library and erect a block of offices. With only two months left on her own lease, Jo attempts to contact her landlord to see if she’ll be looking for a new space. When that is unsuccessful, she decides to go straight to the source. It just so happens that Dan, the husband of Jo’s best friend and part-time employee, Carrie, is doing renovations on Holt’s home. Having secured the address, Jo wastes no time in driving out to see the man who might control her future. Or, maybe not, since Jo finds him lying dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Realizing that Dan and his assistant will be the obvious suspects, Jo and her loyal group of crafters put their heads together to assemble the clues.

Jo is a wonderful character; a sort of everywoman, trying to put her life back together after being widowed at only thirty-six. She’s neither impulsive nor foolish, and her involvement in this mystery makes perfect sense. There are plenty of scenes that take place in the craft shop, and enough craft tips (this time, the topic is beading) to make you want to clear off the table and get to work/play. This is the second installment in this delightful cozy series, following WREATH OF DECEPTION, and already the shop regulars seem like old friends. I’m looking forward to seeing them again soon.

Rating: 7 ½
September 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21767-2 (paperback)

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