Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sew Very Good, Part II

Old Maid's Puzzle, the second book in Terri Thayer's Quilting Mysteries series, was every bit as good as the first. After the trauma of Wild Goose Chase, Dewey Pellicano has settled down and is working hard at making a go of the quilt shop she inherited from her quilter mom, Quilter Paradiso. All is not going well. As a matter of fact, Quilter Paradiso is on the verge of having to declare bankruptcy and close. Of course, that is stressful for Dewey for numerous reasons, not the least of which is losing the shop with her mother started and grew into a successful business and which is now the primary link she still has to her mom. Knowing that you can't run a successful quilt shop without knowing at least the basics of quilting, Dewey is taking a quilt class from one of Quilter Paradiso's teachers. To make matters more difficult, Dewey is continuing to have problems with her sister-in-law Kym who is also her employee. Kym feels she could run the shop better than Dewey and does everything within her power to sabotage Dewey's efforts. Since Kym is family, Dewey is reluctant to fire her for fear of upsetting the family, especially after her mother's sudden death.

And then, of course, there's a murder to be solved. It happened in the alleyway behind the store and threatens customers' sense of safety and they start pulling out of the quilting classes, one of the main sources of income for Quilter Paradiso.  Which, naturally, doesn't help the bottom line any.

To save the shop Dewey has planned a make or break gigantic sale. When Kym finally screws up so badly that Dewey can tolerate her sabotaging efforts no longer, she is fired on the spot in front of friends, family and loyal customers. Kym's sudden departure right before the blowout sale further complicates the situation simply because Dewey needs all the physical help she can scrounge just to get the store ready. The fact that so many of Kym's customers start some online chatter through the local quilt guild about how unfair Dewey was and vow never to shop at Quilter Paradiso again doesn't help matters either.

I liked the role of the older women in this novel, being an older woman myself. I am quite sensitive to how women are treated in novels and particularly these days to how retirees are portrayed. Thayer's quilt teachers and customers are a joy to observe. Each is an individual and each makes it perfectly clear to Dewey that they don't need help running their own lives, including their love lives. When two of her regulars have a falling out about a man, Dewey tries to make peace between them but is brought up short by each woman. That doesn't stop her from trying to protect one's life savings, however, and in the process Dewey discovers the truth about the man who came between them and solves the murder.

I have to say, I never saw the ending coming. The character I suspected turned out to be a victim himself. And the revelation of the real murderer was quite surprising to me. It made sense, however, even though it made me quite sad.

As with the first book, I loved all the references to quilting, quilt blocks, quilting tools, quilting classes, etc. I felt right at home in Quilter Paradiso and in Dewey's world. It is quite obvious that Terri Thayer is a quilter, and I bet she's much better than her fictional shop owner! Some of the other quilt related mysteries I've read just don't ring quite as true as this one. But I knew from the beginning of Wild Goose Chase that this author knew all about rotary cutters from experience, not just reading about them. She was so good at describing the experiences that I am now inspired to clean up my sewing room and start yet another UFO (that's an UnFinished Object for you non-quilters out there)! Already I'm thinking about what pattern I'll use. As usual, my problem is choosing a pattern and sticking with it.

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