Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stitch Me Deadly - Amanda Lee

Stitch Me Deadly
An Embroidery Mystery
Amanda Lee


It’s been several weeks since embroidery shop owner Marcy Singer discovered a dead body in her shop (THE QUICK AND THE THREAD) and she’s not anxious to repeat the experience. When elderly Louisa Ralston enters the shop, she already looks ill, but she’s intent on her mission. She hands Marcy an antique sampler, and asks Marcy to help find “my ivy.” Marcy has no idea what she means, and has no chance to find out, since Ms. Ralston almost immediately collapses into unconsciousness, then dies.

Marcy is horrified and saddened by the event. The autopsy turns up a prescription medication in Ms. Ralston’s system that caused a heart attack, and now the police are looking hard at Marcy as the prime suspect, since she was the last person with Ms. Ralston. A search of Marcy’s home turns up a bottle of that same medication in a guest room last inhabited by Beverly, Marcy’s mom. As is her wont, Beverly is determined to set the police straight on the whole story. It’s not enough to allay suspicion, but it’s a start. In the meantime, Marcy is left with the lovely sampler that the dead woman’s family apparently doesn’t want. It might have been worth something at one time, but the verse at the bottom was removed and changed for some reason. With nothing better to go on, and to get herself out of hot water, Marcy looks into the stitching.

This is the second in a solid mystery series. Marcy is an engaging and realistic. She doesn’t always make the right decisions, and she’s far more trusting that I would ever be, even in normal circumstances, but she’s a good person at heart. Her mother, Beverly, is a well-known costume designer for the film industry. Unlike many other moms (who are played for overbearing comic effect) Beverly is really a more mature, wiser version of Marcy. She wants to look out for her thirty-something daughter, but she’s got her own life and career and seems like someone who’d be great fun to know. I found myself far more in tune with Beverly than Marcy this time around. I have no idea what that says about me.

The mystery is interesting, and the sampler angle makes it unusual. It makes sense that Marcy would want to clear her name. Again. I think most readers will have at least half of the story figured out long before Marcy and Beverly get to the point. Usually, that’s a serious demerit. If it’s so easy to figure out, why didn’t someone in the story get it? This time around, there’s a solid answer for that; it makes sense, on both a literary and human level. That kind of plotting is what makes mysteries fun reading, and makes this installment stronger than the first book.

Rating: 7
February 2011
ISBN# 978-0-451-23251-9 (paperback)


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