Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wreath of Deception - Mary Ellen Hughes

Wreath of Deception
A Craft Corner Mystery
Mary Ellen Hughes
Berkley Prime Crime

Mystery / Cozy

Jo McAllister, recently widowed, is making a new start in her life. She’s moved from NYC, where she lived with her artist husband, to Abbotsville, Maryland. She’s not alone. Her best friend, Carrie Brenner, and her family live there and have vowed to help out Aunt Jo. Using the small life insurance payment, Jo is getting ready to open Jo’s Craft Corner. With the help of Carrie, her husband, Dan, and teenaged son, Charlie, it’s taken weeks to get in stock and set up everything. Jo even hired a clown to pass out freebies and attract families.

The clown turns out to be an actor, Kyle, who isn’t very happy to be there. He complains about everything and everyone, and at the end of the day cannot wait to leave, even asking to use the back room to change out of his clown costume. Despite that, the grand opening is a huge success. After a celebratory dinner with the Brenners, Jo can’t help but take one last look at her shop before going home. To her shock, in the storeroom, she finds Kyle, sill in his clown suit, on the floor, dead. It only gets worse when the authorities discover that Kyle was stabbed to death with a knitting needle from Jo’s stock. Jo becomes the prime suspect. Worried that the small town police department won’t look much father than her, Jo decides, with the help of a few new, but dedicated, customers, to start asking questions.

This is the first in what promises to be a very entertaining series. The interaction between Jo and the various members of the Brenner family, and the interactions within the Brenner family are all completely realistic. It makes sense that Jo would start asking questions, and she does so in a believable way, realizing that she’s a rank amateur, but determined to clear her name. The cast of characters is diverse and interesting, providing several possible suspects and motives. Rounding out the experience are craft tips and a recipe. I hope to see much more of Jo and her friends.

Rating: 7 ½
September 2006
ISBN# 0-425-21224-6 (paperback)


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