Elderberry Bay, Pennsylvania is well known for its quaint
village feel, and for the shops that cater to every type of
sewing or crafting need -- so much so that it has been
nicknamed "Threadville." It seems like the perfect place
for machine embroidery enthusiast Willow Vanderling realize
her dream of having her own business. So she packs up and
leaves the stress of New York City, and recent troubles at
her former job, and heads to the mecca of all things made
beautiful -- Threadville.
But paradise always has a snake among the beauty, and in
the case of Elderberry Bay, that snake comes in the form of
village zoning commissioner Mike Krawbach. Willow has found
the perfect shop for her business, dubbed "In Stitches,"
but the commissioner is determined to tear the building
down to make way for an ATV trail.
With support from his rowdy buddies, Krawbach is sneaky
about gathering names on a petition to do just that, and
Willow is furious about it and the two have words in
public, with a lot of witnesses around! So when Mike is
found dead in Willow's backyard, the police automatically
point the finger at Willow as the prime person of interest.
It's up to Willow and her new friends to piece together the
clues to who killed the bully Krawbach before Willow finds
herself hopelessly tangled in the threads of deceit.
DIRE THREADS is the debut novel for author Janet
Bolin's Threadville Mystery series, and it is a winner
right from the beginning. With a vast cast of personable,
likeable characters populating a lively, mesmerizing
storyline, Bolin keeps the action moving along, and the
humor bubbling as well.
I loved the premise of an entire village of craft-inspired
shops, with cute names such as Tell A Yarn, Buttons and
Bows, and Batty About Quilts. As a special treat,
readers are sure to love the addition of embroidery
patterns in the back.
This will certainly be a great, fun series to keep your eye
Threadville, Pennsylvania has everything - a fabric store,
yarn shop, notions store, quilting boutique, and Willow
Vanderling's brand new shop, In Stitches, a hit with
tourists eager to learn embroidering in the latest way, with
software and machines.
But when the village's bullying zoning commisssioner picks a
fight with Willow and turns up dead in Willow's yard, the
close-knit community starts unraveling at the seams.
Willow must stitch together clues and find the real
murderer, or the next thing she embroiders may be an orange
prison jumpsuit . . .
For the first time, my new boutique, In Stitches, was
officially part of the Threadville tour, which was both
exhilarating and daunting. What if the ladies from today’s
tour avoided my shop, or worse, hated it?
But the first person to enter In Stitches on its opening
day was a man. Mike Krawbach was gorgeous, if you liked icy
blue eyes and an underfed look that made a certain type of
woman want to take him home and fatten him up. I didn’t
trust him. He always talked to me like I was two years old,
for one thing. He tossed an envelope onto a bistro table
displaying my embroidered white linen tablecloth. "Here you
go, Willow. My decision on your application to renovate that
shed at the back of your property."
Shed? Blueberry Cottage was a Victorian confection of
curlicues and gingerbread trim. Small, made of wood, and
quaint. Definitely not a shed. Renting it to others would
help ensure my financial survival, but it needed work. "You
mean Blueberry Cottage."
Mike stretched his neck up as if to make himself taller
and remind me that he was the village’s zoning commissioner,
and I wasn’t. "It’s been called that grandiose name since my
granddad was a boy. It’s a shed, and it’s on a flood plain,
too close to the river for us to allow a building permit.
You can paint it, inside and out, but you can’t do anything
structural, like replace leaky plumbing. Or leaky windows."
I resisted the urge to peek at his feet. He was tall, but
even standing on his tippy toes, he wouldn’t be able to loom
over me as much as he might like. I argued, "The hiking
trail is between it and the river, and that trail is wide.
The Elderberry River couldn’t rise that far."
Mike shrugged. "The decision is final. Take it or leave it."
That was a choice? He strode out, leaving me seething. In
Stitches hadn’t had a customer yet, and I was almost ready
to return to investment counseling in Manhattan.
Almost, but not quite. Outside, the Threadville tour bus
arrived, and ladies streamed from it. Their handmade hats,
coats, mittens, and scarves outshone ice crystals dancing in
the pale February sunshine. Women disappeared into The
Stash, Batty About Quilts, Tell a Yarn, and Buttons and Bows.
Threadville’s real name was Elderberry Bay. The village
had been heading toward ghost town status until my best
friend, Haylee, had fled Manhattan, opened The Stash, and
inveigled other people to open other textile arts boutiques.
Now, crafty women flocked to this small village on the
Pennsylvania shore of Lake Erie to browse, take courses,
find inspiration, and spend money.
I was a little stunned when about twenty of them poured
into my shop. Their coats were decorated with every form of
embellishment known to woman, except one—machine embroidery.
They were coming to me to round out their education, and I
had optimistically put five chairs around the table holding
my computer and sewing machine.
A woman frowned at the logo I had embroidered on a suede
vest trimmed with fun faux fur. The logo was my own design,
a stylized weeping willow. Uh-oh. Didn’t she like my work?
The willow was supposed to help new students remember my
name. "Tut, tut," she said. "Willow for sorrow." The name
Rosemary was emblazoned in sequins across the front of her
Rosemary for remembrance, I thought. "Willow’s my name."
I’d been Willow all my life and had never known sorrow.
Except, perhaps, during Mike’s visit a few minutes before.
But I wasn’t going to let Mike Krawbach ruin my first
business day in my new shop.