Last Wool and Testament
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: Sept 4, 2012
Retail Price: 7.99
Kath Rutledge is about to learn the true meaning of TGIF—Thank Goodness It’s Fiber.…
That’s the name of the spunky group of fiber and needlework artists founded by Ivy McClellan, Kath’s beloved grandmother. Though Ivy has recently passed on, the ladies still meet regularly at her fabric and fiber shop, The Weaver’s Cat, which Kath has now inherited. But that’s only the first in a series of surprises when Kath returns to the small town of Blue Plum, Tennessee, to settle her grandmother’s affairs.
There’s been a murder, and it turns out her grandmother was the prime suspect. Before she can begin to clear Ivy’s name, Kath encounters a looming presence in the form of a gloomy ghost. It turns out the specter has just as much interest in solving the murder as Kath. So, with a little help from the ladies of TGIF—and a stubborn spirit from beyond—she sets out to unravel the clues and hook the real killer.…
Fans of: Sharon Pape, Sally Goldenbaum, Melissa Bourbon
When Kath Rutledge sets out for the tiny town of Blue Plum, Tennessee, it's with a heavy heart; not only must she bury her grandmother, Ivy McClellan, but as Ivy’s heir, it’s also Kath’s responsibility to settle Ivy’s estate and decide what’s to be done with her house, her fiber and fabric shop, and her cat. Kath called ahead and made appointments with all of the appropriate people, though, so she should be able to make quick work of these tasks and get back to her job before she runs out of vacation time.
Unfortunately, however, Kath arrives in Blue Plum to discover her grandmother's affairs in a less orderly state than anticipated. Ivy's cat is missing, as are a great many of Ivy's personal effects. Someone's changed the locks on her doors, and there’s a bill in the mailbox from someone claiming to be Ivy’s landlord. And, perhaps most distressingly, it seems Ivy was under investigation for murder at the time of her death. Kath feels she owes it to her grandmother to recover her missing property, reclaim her house, and restore her good name, but that's easier said than done – especially when time is at a premium and the cops seem less than eager to offer their assistance. Oh, and then there's the small but vexing matter of the melancholy, melodramatic ghost that’s following Kath around town...
Last Wool and Testament is the first in author Molly MacRae's new Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery series, and it's a very engaging read. The prose is snarky and intelligent. The mystery is clever and complex; if any point during the book you think you've figured things out, chances are you've only solved a corner of the puzzle. The pace is quick, the plot is fun, and MacRae's descriptions of both people and places are lush and vivid and help bring her fictional world to life.
Kath's a likable and entertaining heroine, chock-full of moxie and with a razor-sharp wit, to boot. She’s under a lot of stress in this book, and her scattered mental state is reflected in her somewhat breathless narrative style. (This does occasionally make the story a little difficult to follow, but overall, I felt it added nicely to the mood and tone of the book, and was therefore a good move on the part of MacRae.) The collection of sidekicks that Kath manages to assemble over the course of the tale is nothing short of fantastic. From blind-as-a-bat Ernestine, to adventure-starved Ardis, to petulant and hilariously overwrought Geneva, each character plays an important role in helping Kath solve the central mystery and deal with the aftermath of her grandmother’s sudden death, and the story is richer for their collective presence. The meddlesome and antagonistic Spivey twins are perfect comic relief. And I can’t wait to see what kinds of relationships Kath ultimately decides to forge with unlikely ally Joe Dunbar and his irritating brother, Deputy Cole Dunbar.
I confess, I do wish Last Wool and Testament had just a little more whimsy (à la Heather Blake or Melissa Bourbon) and a touch more warmth (à la Sally Goldenbaum), but hopefully both of those things will develop as the series progresses and Kath settles into her new life in Blue Plum.
Reviewed by Kat N.
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