Old Maid's Puzzle
A Quilting Mystery with Dewey Pellicano by Terri Thayer
Review: Quilting shop owner Dewey Pellicano has to juggle preparations for a major sale at her San Jose store Quilter Paradiso (QP for short), a minor family dispute, bickering customers, an unfulfilled personal relationship with her current boyfriend, and, oh yes, a dead body in the alley in Old Maid's Puzzle, the second mystery in this series by Terri Thayer.
The dead body is problematic if only because customers don't necessarily want to shop where the police are conducting an investigation and her store is adjacent to the crime scene. And Dewey desperately needs her upcoming sale to be a resounding success. She's nearly down to her last dollar, borrowing money from her life savings to pay for inventory, and paying volunteer staff with quilting supplies. Dewey doesn't know the man who died in her alley, only that it was terribly inconvenient of him to do so. The police think he was intentionally poisoned, probably murdered, but suspects are nonexistent. It isn't until Dewey happens upon a photograph of someone remarkably similar in appearance to the dead man that she begins to think that his presence near her store might not have been a random occurrence after all.
Though Old Maid's Puzzle is clearly entertaining, what with all the conflicts Dewey faces and her determination that each be resolved with a positive (or at the very least, not negative) outcome, readers expecting a mystery will have to be patient. Other than the discovery of a dead body, little of a mysterious nature happens for the first two thirds or so of the book. Unlike many of her amateur sleuth contemporaries, Dewey seems little interested in the unknown man found in her alley or in conducting her own investigation as to how he got there, focusing her attention on what's important to her right now this minute. In a way, it's a very refreshing approach for a cozy mystery to take. It also allows the author to develop apparently innocuous character relationships and apply subtle misdirection to the story so that when the mystery does kick in, much of what subsequently happens is so unexpected it's likely to catch readers off guard. One doesn't have to be a quilting aficionado or even know the first thing about quilt patterns to appreciate the mystery crafted by the author in Old Maid's Puzzle.
Acknowledgment: Midnight Ink provided a copy of Old Maid's Puzzle for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Old Maid's Puzzle: San Jose, California
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Old Maid's Puzzle by Terri Thayer — A Quilting Mystery with Dewey Pellicano
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $13.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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