Needlework shop owner Betsy Devonshire is confined to her apartment with a badly broken leg, so her assistant Godwin goes to a big convention in her p...moreNeedlework shop owner Betsy Devonshire is confined to her apartment with a badly broken leg, so her assistant Godwin goes to a big convention in her place. The association is donating over $20000 to a heart charity, and a charity bigwig makes a speech of acceptance--then vanishes, with the check. His desperate wife seeks Betsy's help, but she must act through Godwin to find out the truth. Meanwhile, a young man named Tony Milan awakes in the hospital with severe injuries from a car crash, including a skull fracture that has taken away all memories of what he was doing the night he got injured.
I really didn't enjoy this one, mostly because half the book was from Tony's perspective, and he's just a nasty piece of work and totally predictable. Also predictable was the reason the author had Betsy temporarily shelter an injured crow; I knew the crow was there to play some major part in the denouement. This one was not really a winner for me.(less)
When her best friend's boyfriend Lars bought himself a 1912 Stanley Steemer, Betsy Devonshire was fascinated enough to offer to sponsor him for a loca...moreWhen her best friend's boyfriend Lars bought himself a 1912 Stanley Steemer, Betsy Devonshire was fascinated enough to offer to sponsor him for a local antique car run. She figured it would be good advertising for her needlework shop, Crewel World, in Excelsior, Minnesota. What she doesn't figure on is one of the owners being burned to death beneath his own car, and the owner's wife--who had spent the day with Betsy--asking her to investigate.
While I enjoyed the antique cars in this one, and now wish I could go for a ride in a Victoria touring car by Renault, this wasn't much of a mystery. I figured out the killer and the alibi pretty much immediately, they were so obvious. For readers of the series, the only reasons to read this one are if you like antique cars, or want to witness Betsy's first encounters with Maury Steffens, who features in many of the later books.(less)
Kaz is a young ghost who has been separated from his family. He now lives in the library, with his "solid" friend Claire, who can see and talk to ghos...moreKaz is a young ghost who has been separated from his family. He now lives in the library, with his "solid" friend Claire, who can see and talk to ghosts. Claire's parents are detectives who think she isn't old enough to detect, but she's determined to prove them wrong. She and Kaz form a detective agency to help people with ghost problems, since that's Kaz's specialty. Once Claire finds a way to transport Kaz safely (wind is a big problem for ghosts), they go to investigate a reported ghost in an attic. Along the way, Kaz thinks he sees a ghost he recognizes--his dog, Cosmo. Can they solve the mystery of the ghost in the attic? And can they get Cosmo back?
I didn't star this because the author is a friend, but this is such a fun series for kids. I love how they figured how to transport Kaz (in a water bottle, because he can shrink down), and how the story always stays true to its inner logic. There are lots of red herrings in this one, and the solution to the ghost in the attic is completely believable. And there's a twist in the end involving Claire's family, but I won't give it away!(less)
Kaz is a young ghost whose family has lost their haunt--an old school building that's been torn down. Worse, when they fled, they were pulled apart by...moreKaz is a young ghost whose family has lost their haunt--an old school building that's been torn down. Worse, when they fled, they were pulled apart by the wind, and now Kaz doesn't know where any of his family is. He manages to find shelter in a library, and there discovers Claire, a young girl who can see and talk to ghosts. She's surprised that Kaz can't do normal ghostly things like wail, glow, and pass through walls (he hates how it makes him feel), but is thrilled to have a young ghost friend. While they think about how Kaz might find his family, they solve the mystery of another library ghost--one that Claire can't see.
I didn't star this because the author is a friend, but I did love it! It's a charming story with a lot of thought behind it; ghosts aren't the spirits of the dead, but a different race of beings that have what we typically consider "ghostly" powers. I was thinking that they had to have some physicality to them in order to be blown by the wind, and it would make for some interesting investigations in books for older kids. Here, though, it's just a well-done story of a boy who doesn't fit in and his new friend, and the small mystery in the friendly library.(less)
Betsy Devonshire runs Crewel World needlework shop in Excelsior, Minnesota, with the invaluable help of her store manager Godwin. Godwin's relationshi...moreBetsy Devonshire runs Crewel World needlework shop in Excelsior, Minnesota, with the invaluable help of her store manager Godwin. Godwin's relationship with John, the lawyer with whom he lives, has always been volatile, but this time it seems he's thrown Godwin out for good. The inconsolable Godwin is staying with Betsy, and just as she thinks he's calming down, they get a call from John's secretary to say that he didn't show up for work. When Godwin and Betsy go to John's house, they find him murdered. A devastated Godwin doesn't realize that the worst is yet to come--he's soon under arrest and in jail for John's murder. Now it's up to Betsy to find out what really happened and save Godwin from wearing hideous orange jumpsuits for the rest of his life.
This wasn't my favorite in the series, for two reasons. First, I usually enjoy the extra detail the author adds in, about antique cars, interesting needlework projects, town festivals, etc. However, here she's added in an abundance of detail about boring things we don't need to know, such as how Betsy's voicemail works, everything she eats, a long description of the office and person of a lawyer she didn't hire, and more. Often it felt like a primer on what happens when someone in Minnesota is arrested and what steps you should follow to get him legal counsel--none of it really relevant to the detection plot, and not even used as red herrings. Then I felt that many questions were left hanging, such as the fact that the murderer never confessed to the crime and there's no mention of evidence that could convict him, so how did Godwin get out of jail? I still enjoyed most of the book and the characters, but felt it could have used more editing.(less)
Betsy Devonshire, new proprietor of a needlework shop in Excelsior, Minnesota, is struggling both to make ends meet for the shop, and to prepare for C...moreBetsy Devonshire, new proprietor of a needlework shop in Excelsior, Minnesota, is struggling both to make ends meet for the shop, and to prepare for Christmas. When the renovation of Trinity Church uncovers a beautiful tapestry that was hidden away, and now needs repair, Betsy offers to donate the materials, hoping that a mention in the paper when they write about the project will help her shop. She doesn't expect to discover some tiny, embroidered saint's "attributes" on the tapestry, and gets interested in learning about their symbology. She also doesn't expect to nearly die of hypothermia when a cut brake line strands her in a blizzard, or to suffer other attempts on her life. Who is trying to kill her? And what possible reason could they have?
I liked this one because it's unusual for the detective to be the victim of attempted murder, particularly with no obvious reason. In addition, the settings are always well-described, and the characters are interesting. This audiobook reader did a good job in not making the characters sound like cartoon caricatures, which I greatly appreciated! I'm also fond of any mystery that requires research back into the past, both by book and by memory, and any hint of codes gets my interest. (I'm reading the whole series because it's one of the few that's generally available in MP3 form from my library, so I don't have to spend hours and hours searching the ridiculously un-tagged Overdrive catalog for something that might interest me!)(less)
Betsy Devonshire, new proprietor of a needlework shop in Excelsior, Minnesota, has a knack for solving murders. Unfortunately, her success has led to...moreBetsy Devonshire, new proprietor of a needlework shop in Excelsior, Minnesota, has a knack for solving murders. Unfortunately, her success has led to night after night of terrible nightmares, and she's ready to give up detecting altogether. To get a break both from nightmares and all the solicitors clamoring for a part of the three million she's just inherited from her sister, Betsy goes with her policewoman friend Jill Cross to a "stitch-in" at a lodge deep in the country. It's a beautiful place, even in the dead of winter, and at first things go well. Then Betsy finds a dead woman in someone else's room, but when she brings the inn's proprietor, the body is gone. Did Betsy dream it? If not, what happened to the body? And who was she?
I liked this entry in the series. It was nice to have a different location, and the author always describes her settings well. After reading this, I had to look up the Devil's Kettle online to see what it looked like, since it was so intriguing in the book. I also liked the Native American heritage of the area, though I will not take a stab at spelling the name of the lodge, which was named after a Native American deity. I don't know if the deity really exists, since I can't spell it to look it up! Anyway, the mystery was well-done, and you really do doubt if Betsy really saw what she saw, since her nightmares are so realistic.(less)
Betsy Devonshire, owner of the Crewel World needlecraft store, is still fairly new in Excelsior, MN. That explains why she didn't know that the contra...moreBetsy Devonshire, owner of the Crewel World needlecraft store, is still fairly new in Excelsior, MN. That explains why she didn't know that the contractor she hired for her new roof--Foster Johns--is reviled around town as a murderer who got away with killing his lover and her husband five years previously. Foster, who has heard of Betsy's penchant for solving crimes, begs her to look into his case to find out the truth, and get him out of the hell his life has become. As Betsy investigates, she finds out a lot of unsavory details about the husband, but the method of the crime is still unclear--can she solve a five-year-old murder?
I liked this entry in the series, even if I sort of figured things out before Betsy. I like the world-building with all the details about the town and the shop and the needlecraft, even if I don't do needlecraft myself. Basically I just like small-town cozies! I thought the characters were well set up, too, and all-too believable. I do wish the audiobook narrator would stop making Godwin sound so stereotypically gay--he comes off as a laughable caricature rather than a real person, which really isn't fair to him.(less)
It's Christmastime in Caerphilly, and Meg Langslow is looking forward to carols, turkey, and time with her crazy and extended family. Then someone lea...moreIt's Christmastime in Caerphilly, and Meg Langslow is looking forward to carols, turkey, and time with her crazy and extended family. Then someone leaves a cage full of twelve wild skunks at the New Life Baptist church, and suddenly Meg finds herself in charge of rescheduling all their Christmas events into other churches, including her own Trinity Episcopal. Everything is going as well as could be expected, until an emerald boa disappears from her grandfather's zoo, and ends up in the garlands at Trinity while the New Life Choir is performing their concert. Then there are the ducks, and Meg thinks things couldn't possibly get more complicated...until the murder happens.
This is a fun series, and is as much about the town and Meg's crazy extended family than it is about mysteries. This is all about detailing the many Christmas events and decorations that fill the town, and make you instantly long for Christmas--even in August! The pranks are a clever way to add in a mystery that's not a murder, and the real murder is mysterious enough that I didn't guess the culprit. Overall, a satisfying light and fluffy mystery, with ducks.(less)
When Betsy Devonshire, owner of the needlework shop Crewel World in Excelsior, Minnnesota, signs up for a water aerobics class at a nearby retirement...moreWhen Betsy Devonshire, owner of the needlework shop Crewel World in Excelsior, Minnnesota, signs up for a water aerobics class at a nearby retirement home, she doesn't expect it will lead to another murder investigation. It does, of course, when a young woman named Teddi is found dead in the pool. It's a complicated mystery, because no one can figure out how she got into the multi-locked pool area, and then there's the question of her three boyfriends. Betsy soon finds herself mired in uncertainties, and when another murder happens, things just get worse. Will this be the one mystery she can't solve?
This series can be kind of up and down for me, but I liked this one. The plot moved well, and even though I guessed the murderer long before Betsy, it was still enjoyable to read. There's a lot about various kinds of needlework, of course, and while I don't know much about needlework and can't really picture it, it's kind of soothing to listen to (I had the audiobook) because you know nothing horrible will happen while she's describing punch-needle. I also like the relationship between the characters, including Betsy's love-interest Connor.
What I hated about the audiobook, though, was the awful voices the reader did for all the characters except Betsy. They all sounded like over-the-top caricatures who had inoperable adenoids, or as if a little kid were doing his idea of a funny Santa voice. It made it very hard to take the characters seriously.(less)