Needlecraft Mystery Series

A nice long weekend and it looks like it is going to rain on Sunday all day, and maybe Monday too.  DH and I had planned a hike, but I think it will turn into a couple of days of sewing and reading.  Actually, those are wonderful days in my opinion!  Now is a good time to tell you about a series I have enjoyed.  It is another in the cozy mystery genre, refreshingly with an older woman in her 50s as the central character (instead of the usual mid-30s cutsie with the hunk policeman boyfriend).  Beginning with the first in the series, Crewel World, readers are introduced to Betsy and her sister Margo in a small town in Minnesota.  When Betsy’s sister is murdered in the store, Betsy is taken on an emotional roller coaster, eventually needing to do some sleuthing on her own to find the truth.  She inherits the store and has to learn how to run it with the help of the part time staff. What started out for Betsy as a refuge from a bad divorce turns into a learning experience for taking care of herself.   The neat thing is the focus on needlecrafts, not only crewel, but knitting, crochet, and cross stitch.  Each book has a pattern in it too.  Next is Framed in Lace where a skeleton is found wrapped with a piece of lace that holds a clue.  These first books are only available in paperback, and I think I donated them back to the library some years ago.  I really would rather read hardback books, I find them easier to hold and read.  As I finished books in this series, I put them on an antique shelf that is sitting on the mantle in my basement sewing space.  Books work as decor you know, as I wrote about in Decorating With Books and More Decorating With Books.

Needlecraft Mysteries

The next book in the series is Stitch in Time dealing with a damaged tapestry.  It is followed by Unraveled Sleeve where Betsy and her friend Jill go to a knitting retreat.   The fifth book Murderous Yarn, deals with antique car racing.  I found this one particularly interesting as DH has done some vintage racing in the past.  Again, a piece of needlework holds a clue to the truth.  After the second book, the books can be read out of order, as not much changes in Betsy’s life.  That is the only disappointing thing about the series.  There isn’t a lot of growth in the main character, or change in her life once her divorce is done in the first book.  I find that I am more curious about the other characters in the series and how their lives change.

I think one of the better mysteries in this series is Buttons and Bones (#14), set in a remote cabin where a skeleton is found under a linoleum floor.  This one really had a different story than the usual, dealing with events long ago during World War II, and again a needlecraft in the form of a crocheted rug is a clue to the truth.  In Threadbare (#15), a homeless woman is found dead wearing an embroidered blouse that is her will.  Another twist on the usual story, Betsy has to solve two murders that are connected.

Needlecraft Myst 2

So, you have a series of cozy mysteries with needlework.  No, they are not great literature, and sometimes the mystery is a bit too easy to solve, but after dealing with CEUs, I am ready for something a bit mindless.  I still have these two on the to-be-read pile.  And Then You Dye is book #16, and The Drowning Spool is #17.  That will likely be it for me for one series, I have too many other books to read.

Needlecraftbook covers

After a while you begin to ask, how many murders can happen in a small town?  Horrors!  And the series sometimes gets a bit stale.  Maybe that is why I haven’t picked these up.  But the last one I read was Crewel Yule, book #8, read out of order because I wanted to save it for the holidays.  I did enjoy it, so hopefully I can get back to these soon.  Perhaps I can visit Excelsior again soon, checking in with friends not seen in a while.

What are you reading now?



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11 thoughts on “Needlecraft Mystery Series

  1. This looks like a fun series. I typically “listen” to books while I sew. Our library system uses a program called OVERDRIVE and I can “check out” audio books. I run them through my phone, so no matter where I am, I can listen, either with the phone plugged into speakers or via the bluetooth. Currently checked out: Sue Grafton – J is for Judgment ; and K is for Killers (trying to do this series in order); Patrick O’Brian – Post Captain (2nd in a series which was highly recommended by my daughter and son in law; James Patterson Private Vegas. And on my Kindle App – Marie Bostwick – Threading the Needle and also The Second Sister. Depending how much sewing time I get, I can “read/listen” to 2 or 3 books a week. Much harder for me to get through a book on the kindle app, as I don’t sit still for long. I love the goodreads review and bookshelf on the wordpress wall. I just searched the OVERDRIVE availability and came up with Hanging by a Thread; so added it to my wish list. I do that when ever I read a good review. I will keep Monica Ferris in mind when I venture into the local library. 🙂

  2. Lesley Gilbert

    Very interesting to hear about your murder mysteries. I like a bit of gore with my stories and enjoy Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter, – any murder/detective stories. Because of an eye sight problem I don’t read books any more but listen every day to an audio book. At the moment I’m listening to TAKE PITY by David Mark, a local author whose books are set in my home town. This is his 4th book but I only started it yesterday so don’t know if it’s a good one. I’ve listened to about 20 books from Martina Cole, a British writer who writes about the London gangster life from 70’s onwards’ – a lot of swearing in her books so many not your style :p A long reply but you did ask and this is the short version haha

  3. Patricia

    Just what I need easy reading books. My daughter is serious ill and need something I can put down quick and pick up when I get back to it.

  4. Good Morning Carole! These books sound rather in my style, I will have to keep my eyes open and see if I can find some. Usually though, reading is very difficult so I read articles out of quilting magazines. LOL. I do hope that the rain holds off for you do get to go hiking, but then again maybe the rain would be perfect for all of the quilting you can get in. I know that is what I am going to be doing sewing, sewing and sewing some more! I hope that you have a fantastic creative day and a safe holiday!

  5. wlbg149

    I’ve read several of this series, out of order by chance. I prefer to interspersed other books between books in a series because they become too predictable. Carolyn

    Sent from my Galaxy Tab® A

  6. catsandroses

    I just finished “Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Changed the World”; wonderful, true story which, as a huge cat lover, I thoroughly enjoyed. Am now reading “The Virgin of Small Plains” by Nancy Pickard, a murder mystery. Only about 1/3rd of the way through, but so far is an enjoyable read and has me intrigued to see what will happen next.

  7. These books sound like fun, I’ll be on the look out for them! Thanks for sharing!

    I’ve been reading the Inspector Van Veeteren Mysteries. So far the first and third books (in the order they were translated from Swedish, I think not the order they were written). The third book has such a surprised ending. I was really caught off guard. The book I read after that was Loving Frank – about an episode in Frank Lloyd Wright’s life. Also, to me, a surprise ending. It’s a pleasure to read books when the authors are consistent right to the last page.

    : )

  8. dezertsuz

    I’ve never heard of it, so thanks! I’ve been reading a SciFi series that is not brain taxing. =) However, if you haven’t read the Charles Todd series, I highly recommend them, and in order. Mother/son team writes as Charles Todd. It’s post World War I England, and its one of those that grows on you, if you stick through the first quarter of the first book, figuring out the beginnings of the series. That’s the Ian Rutledge series, but they also write the Bess Crawford series, about a nurse in and after WWI. Both series are really good, and it’s practically impossible to guess whodunit. I love that the characters grow during the course of the books.

  9. dezertsuz

    P. S. I had to laugh when you mentioned decorating with books. My older sister, who read every book she owned, took the dust covers off and arranged her books by color! She knew right where they all were, but a nightmare for someone who didn’t know the color of a book. LOL It was attractive though.

  10. I agree with you about these being a easy read. I’ve only read ‘Crewel World’ but enjoyed it. I’ve read most of the Elm Creek Quilt series by Jennifer Chiaverini which I’ve enjoyed a lot.

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