Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Book Review No. 25: Embroidered Truths by Monica Ferris (another cosy)

This cosy crime series written by Monica Ferris is probably my favourite of all the many, many cosy series I have read/plan to read. If I cast my mind back, I think it was one from this series that was the first ever cosy I read; if I remember rightly I picked up a copy of Crewel World when hubby and I were travelling, back in 2008. Although it's possible that I'd read some of the Agatha Raisin series before then (written by British author MC Beaton), Crewel World really introduced me to the US cosy crime genre.Odd then that I haven't read any from this series since the end of 2012.

Anyway, back to it. Embroidered Truths is the ninth in the series following amateur sleuth Betsy Devonshire as she solves crimes in and around her adoptive town of Excelsior, Minnesota while also running a needlework shop (the imaginatively named Crewel World.) In this book, Betsy's shop assistant Godwin returns from a holiday in Mexico City, has a huge row with his boyfriend and ends up sleeping in Betsy's spare room. A few days later and Godwin's ex, John, is found dead in his home and Godwin is arrested for the murder. As Betsy sets out to prove Godwin's innocence she uncovers a web of intrigue centred on the law firm where John worked. Turns out that some people (John included) were making lots of money through dodgy dealings. I thought the visit to Mexico City was going to play a much bigger part in the who- and why-dunnit aspect of the mystery, but I was wrong; the red herrings there certainly had me fooled, although perhaps the story could have benefited if the Mexico storyline had been followed up a little more.

What I enjoyed about this book:
  • Godwin's character is developed much more in this book than in any other in the series so far; we find out a lot about his relationship with John, although it doesn't always make for pleasant reading - I found the homophobia displayed by some of the characters rather unpleasant. 
  • the references to Mexico City were interesting (I wonder if the author had recently taken a break there, or if the research was done via the wonder of the t'interweb)
  • the descriptions of  the locations within the story; you do get a true sense of what it must be like to live in Minnesota when you read this series
  • the references to needlework (especially cross stitch) are a nice touch
  • the continuing cast of (background) characters who feature throughout the series; sometimes they play a large part, sometimes it's a fleeting glimpse, but it gives a feeling of continuation
  • the fact that it's a cosy; enough said
What I disliked about this book
  • the story didn't feel quite right; I can't put my figure on the 'whos', 'whats' and 'whys' that meant that it didn't quite work for me, but it just didn't. Aren't I a good reviewer?!?
Overall I enjoyed the book but, as is often the way with cosies, I didn't love it. I guess when you are churning out book after book in a series, there will always be great books, good books, mediocre books and poor books. I think I'd rate this one somewhere between mediocre and good; if it happened to be the first one of this series you ever read, you probably wouldn't rush to read more, but if, like me, you happen to have been totally suckered in to the whole Crewel World thing, then it probably wouldn't put you off reading more.

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