Hanging by a Thread (A Sewing Studio Mystery)
by Dorothy Howell
About Hanging by a Thread
Hanging by a Thread (A Sewing Studio Mystery)
2nd in Series
Setting – California – Fictional Town of Hideaway Grove
Kensington Cozies (September 26, 2023)
Hardcover : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1496740424
ISBN-13 : 978-1496740427
Digital ASIN : B0BRF14464
The latest novel in a new crafting cozy series in the genre-leading Kensington Cozy Mystery program focusing on the members of a Sewing Studio.
Some of the independent shops in this sleepy town are barely hanging on financially—and that includes Sarah’s Sweets, Abbey’s aunt’s bakery. The shop’s advantage—aside from the deliciousness of its products—is the fact that it’s the only bakery in the area. But it looks like that’s about to change. The second wife of a wealthy businessman wants her own bakery—and money is no object.
When murder unravels the plans for the competing shop, Aunt Sarah is an immediate suspect—and Hideaway Grove’s merchants are on pins and needles about a big upcoming women’s conference, fearing the organization will cancel their booking because of the crime. Abbey’s doing her best to stay optimistic and stitch some custom tote bags for the attendees, but she’s also concerned with patching up Aunt Sarah’s good reputation. And when it comes to sorting through the possible motives of the victim’s family members and associates, she’s got a few tricks up her sleeve . . .
Sarah’s Sweets is going to have some competition when a new bakery opens up in town. Abbey’s aunt was already worried about making ends meet and the new bakery has all the money it needs thanks to the owner’s rich husband. Sarah is hoping the upcoming women’s conference will give her business a bit of a cushion until she finds new ways to help the bakery be more profitable. The whole town really needs the event to be a big success. Abbey is hoping the tote bags she has been making in the sewing studio sell well too so that she can make some additions to the studio and grow that into a business of her own.
But the murder of the owner of the new bakery may tear everything apart at the seams. Aunt Sarah becomes the prime suspect. Can they really believe she would literally kill her competition? The town’s merchants are worried not only about a murderer in their midst but also that the conference will be canceled because of the crime. Abbey is juggling quite a few things but her number one priority is clearing her aunt’s name and then making sure the conference goes on as planned. She is going to need a little help from her friends because she still has to take care of her commitments for the women’s conference, of which she has many.
I do like the characters of this series, but I had the same problem with Abbey that I had in the first book, Seams Like Murder. Projects are just thrust upon her, and she can’t say no. She was also very weak with an order placed for her tote bags. The conference committee wanted a tote bag that would be given out to all attendees and each and every design they provided was worse than the last, yet she made a sample of each one for them to approve which they didn’t. She knew the designs were bad but she had no initiative to tell the committee that and offer suggestions until her friend Caitlin stepped in and offered to come up with the perfect design. By then, it was hard to believe Abbey had enough time to make all those tote bags and some of her own in time for the conference with only one machine. She also had to make poodle skirts for the servers at the conference to wear with no idea how to make them. Thankfully, again Connie, the fabric shop owner saved the day with an easy pattern and some pointers but she still needed to make a variety of sizes. She also had to track down pillowcases to make pillowcase dresses for a fashion show at the conference. She did have help with those but that is still a ton of projects so she didn’t have much time to sleuth out a killer.
There are several supporting characters within the story. I wish Aunt Sarah had a larger role because she was definitely worried about something but she held it in for most of the book. I also am troubled by Caitlin’s engagement, that subplot is going to blow up soon, I hope. A different subplot deals with another shop owner and a problem she asked Abbey to help with. I was very happy to have it contained within this story and that it had a positive ending.
The main mystery, the murder, unfolded slowly. Sheriff Grumman still continues to distress me. He jumps to conclusions with no evidence or he tries to make the evidence prove what he has preconceived. I am glad he has Deputy Zach McKenna to help him out. He has a good head on his shoulders and he has a budding romance with Abbey, although he is a little clueless in that department. Unlike the sheriff, I did focus in on the right guilty party but I needed just a few more clues for everything to fall into place. I knew the showdown was coming and it was exciting. It did happen before the women’s conference so we have that to look forward to or at least how it may affect Abbey’s Sewing Studio and Sarah’s Sweets.
Hanging by a Thread is an entertaining cozy mystery and I am looking forward to the third installment of the Sewing Studio Mystery Series very much. Abbey has shown us how strong she can be in the face of danger. I need more of that strength to come out in her interactions with people who ask her to do things. I want her business to succeed and it can’t be if she lets people walk all over her. She is a good person with a big heart but she is smart too, smart enough to stand up for herself and her time.
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About Dorothy Howell
USA Today Bestselling author Dorothy Howell is the author of 49 novels. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages and sold worldwide. She writes the Sewing Studio mystery series, the Haley Randolph mystery series, and the Hollis Brannigan and Dana Mackenzie mystery series. Dorothy also writes historical romance novels under the pen name Judith Stacy. Dorothy lives in Los Angeles.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”