Friday, May 24, 2019

Book Review: Forget Me Knot by Mary Marks (Quilting Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, good plot
Cons: Plot a little slow to start, a little (very little) political snipping
The Bottom Line:
When quilter murdered
Martha and friends ask questions
I was hooked by end

Can Martha Solve a Knotty Murder?

If you’ve noticed, I tend to stay away from the crafty cozies.  Most of the crafts featured don’t interest me (there are exceptions, of course).  It’s one reason why I have passed on Mary Marks’ Quilting Mysteries until now.  After seeing her at several events, I finally decided to give in and read the first, Forget Me Knot.  I’m glad I did because this book really grew on me.

Retirees Martha Rose and her best friends Lucy and Birdie have been getting together every Tuesday to quilt for a couple of years now, but they are thinking of adding a new member to their circle.  Claire Terry has invited them to come to her house this Tuesday, which surprises Martha since Claire is easily a decade younger than she is, and Martha is the youngest of the trio.  The friends arrive to a shocking discover – Claire’s dead body in her living room.

While the trio are sad, they figure the police will handle the investigation – that is until someone steals three quilts from a quilting show that weekend – Martha’s, Birdie’s, and Claire’s final prize-winning quilt.  It’s just too much of a coincidence for Martha, but what is the connection between Claire’s death and her quilts?

I felt the book started out a little uneven.  What I’ve teased happens early in the book, but then we spend some time with Martha investigating without it feeling like the book is going anywhere.  It is layering in some suspects, but it is only in the second half of the book that things really begin to pay off.  Once we hit that point, the twists begin to come at a steady pace.  Some of the twists lead us to some edgier motives for a cozy series, but the book handles them well.  The climax makes perfect sense and wraps everything up well, and there is a brilliant twist along the way.

We are meeting an entirely new cast of characters here, but they are already rich characters.  They are older than a typical cozy cast, but I really appreciated that since it’s always nice to see some variety in cozies.  Martha, Lucy, and Birdie are very distinct characters already, and we get to know various people in their lives as the book progresses.  We meet a wide range of suspects, too, as the book progresses, and I felt they were just as real as the series regulars.

One thing that did bother me a little were some political snipes.  I appreciate that politics rarely if ever comes into play in the cozies I read, so these were a surprise.  Even more so, they felt needless.  I suspect that they were intended to be funny, since I laughed at the last one in the book, but given all the politics in the world today, this did give me pause.  The book came out in 2014, and if that has continued in the series, I am worried about what the author is putting in the books today.  Fortunately, this dropped off as the plot got stronger in the second half; I am hoping it has dropped out of the series as it has gone along as well.

One reason I decided to pick up this series is that it is set in the suburban sprawl that is the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County.  I live just barely north of the San Fernando Valley, and I always enjoy reading books where I recognize the setting.  Again, this is a way that the series sets itself apart from other cozies – this isn’t a small town.  Yet, it still invokes the cozy feeling since we are investigating people in Claire’s life to find her killer.

It is easy to see why the seventh book in the series will be out this summer.  Not that I need another series to catch up on, but I will definitely be reading the sequel to Forget Me Knot to find out what happens next to Martha, Lucy, and Birdie.

Piece together clues in the rest of the Quilting Mysteries.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.

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