For a novice quilter like me, The Lover's Knot was a happy discovery. The latest trend in the "cozy" mystery genre is to write a series of books based on a particular career or hobby. There are mystery novels set in the world of knitting, scrapbooking, cross-stitch, bridge and dogwalking, with some of the best of these reviewed at StoryCircle Book Reviews. I love them all, but this was the first quilting mystery I've read. It was a welcome treat.
The story begins when Nell Fitzgerald, a young layout artist for a Manhattan publishing house, has her heart broken by a fiancé with cold feet. She heads for the Hudson Valley town of Archer's Rest, New York to seek the comfort of her grandmother, Eleanor, owner of the Someday Quilts shop. The lovers' knot of the title is the pattern on the quilt Eleanor has made for her granddaughter's wedding. In a very short time, Nell falls in love with the town and the art of quilting.
Meanwhile, her fiancé Ryan tries to win her back and becomes a suspect in the murder of Marc, a local handyman known for his flirting. A fistfight occurs, a child's paternity is questioned, someone greases the shop stairs with quilter's hand cream and a load of money is found hidden in the shop. The women of the Friday Night Quilt Club, Barney the golden retriever and the handsome widowed police chief round out the cast of characters. (Barney has his own stash of five small quilts with dog fabrics or appliquéd bones lining his bed!)There is enough going on in this story to keep you guessing until the very end.
Quilting jargon like UFOs (Unfinished Objects), stash and fat quarter (twenty-two inches by eighteen instead of a quarter yard) are scattered through the book like fabric scraps on a cutting table. O'Donohue is an avid quilter herself and former producer of the HGTV program "Simply Quilts." She's also skillful in piecing together the ordinary things that can make life difficult: mother-daughter clashes, the death of a spouse, and the shaky steps to recovery after rejection by a lover. She cleverly leaves a few of the personal issues unresolved, so that the reader wonders what the main characters are doing after the novel ends.
I've read a lot of "cozies." They are the books I'm most likely to pick up at the end of a long day or take with me on vacation. The Lover's Knot went in my travel bag on a recent weekend, and was as much fun to read as I hoped it would be. I look forward to my next visit to Archers Rest and the women of Someday Quilts.
Clare O'Donohue is a television writer and producer for the History Channel, truTV, Food Network and others. She is working on the next book in the Someday Quilts series. Visit her website.
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