Cora is determined to prove her friend’s innocence, but Zee’s mysterious past is making that difficult. And with a list of suspects longer than a double spool of satin cording, getting a bead on the real culprit won’t be easy. With her friends Jane and Ruby at her side, Cora must string together the clues and solve Stan’s murder before the killer gives an encore performance.
Includes crafting tips!
Praise for Mollie Cox Bryan’s mysteries
“A playful charmer!”
—Woman’s World on No Charm Intended
"Scrapbookers and hobby cozy fans will enjoy this delightful holiday escape."
—Library Journal on A Crafty Christmas
“A font of ingenuity . . . superb entertainment.”
—Mystery Scene magazine on Scrapbook of Secrets
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
"How did we let ourselves get involved with this?" Cora Chevalier whispered to best friend and business partner, Jane Starr.
"It's not too bad, is it?" Jane whispered back.
The voice of one of the cast members performed the vocal gymnastics otherwise known as warm-ups. Cora grimaced.
"What do you think?" Cora said, hands over her ears.
Jane was in her element. She loved designing and painting the sets for the local theater group, IndigoArts. Cora would rather be at home with her cat, Luna. Besides, their next craft retreat, with a back-to-school theme for moms, beckoned with countless tasks requiring their attention.
Fiddler on the Roof opened tonight and along with excitement in the air, frayed nerves ran rampant. Cora and Jane's work essentially was done a week ago, but the sets needed a few touch-ups. They planned to be on their merry way as soon as possible.
Jane stood back and examined her work. "It will do. Good thing the audience won't be close enough to see the details," she said as she looked over the log house façade. It consisted of painted brown logs in between soft blue lines representing mud or clay Jane drew. She had also painted two windows and a door, along with the roof. No curtains hung in the windows, which was a subject of about a week's debate between Jane and the director, Stan. Should there be curtains? Or not?
Earlier, Jane and Cora finished painting a purple night sky with mountains fading in the distance, which took most of the day. Since they were already at the theater, they checked out a few of the other set pieces and façades to see if any touch-ups were needed.
"It looks beautiful," Cora said, picking up and then dropping her paintbrush into a bucket. She grew dizzy from the scent of paint and turpentine. "Let's get this cleaned up and go home before we're commandeered into doing something else."
She spoke too soon.
"There you are!" Zee said as she walked onto the stage as if she owned it. Others milled about, cleaning and making quick repairs and changes. "I wondered if you two are going to make the show tonight?"
It was their burgeoning friendship with Zee, otherwise known as Zora, that brought them here. Soon after Jane and Cora met her, she told them to please call her Zee, as she hated the name Zora, which had belonged to an evil old aunt. She was the musical director for the theater group. When she learned of Jane's artistic ability, she approached her.
"No," Jane replied. "We figured we'd attend next Sunday's matinee. We've got a retreat starting."
"Oh, that's right," Zee said, and wrote something on a paper attached to her clipboard. "Thank you both for all the work you've done." She lowered her voice. "I know it wasn't easy at times. So I owe you."
"We'll remind you of that," Cora said with a joking tone.
But Cora meant what she said. The politics of the local theater group was like an intricate game of chess. Cora found herself with her foot in her mouth on more than one occasion. She loved theater and had been in plays in college and briefly thought she might get involved with IndigoArts. Until this experience. She adored Zee, but they'd need a long chat about all this someday.
Besides, Cora needed to focus on the upcoming retreat. Her guest teacher was scheduled to arrive bright and early in the morning. Lena Ross was a beading artist. Just thinking about learning how to work with beads lifted Cora's spirits. It was a craft that was easy to make for non-crafters. No special talent was necessary, but beading could become an art in the right hands.
Lena Ross crafted across the spectrum of what made up the beading scene. She made everything from French bead floral arrangements to gorgeous lampwork necklaces. Cora was fascinated.
"You've done such a great job," Zee said. "Do you have a full house for this retreat?"
"Not yet," Cora said. "We've got some room. Do you want to come and craft with us?"
"Heavens no," she said, waving her plump hand. "I just thought if you needed room you could send them my way."
Zee owned and operated the Blue Note, one of the bed-and-breakfasts in quaint Indigo Gap. "I'm all thumbs with anything but music and flowers," she said. "Believe me. I've tried."
"Well, if you ever change your mind and want to give something a try, we're here for you," Cora said, grinning. "And if we're ever in need of rooms, we'll send our retreaters to you."
"What are you going to be doing? Crochet? Quilting? I've no interest whatsoever in making that stuff. I do love to buy it, though," Zee said with a Cheshire cat grin.
Jane and Cora had tried to guess Zee's age to no avail. And she wasn't one to tell. She'd had a whole other life before "retiring" to Indigo Gap. She was a musician, and her B&B featured a shiny baby grand in the sitting room. She had silver-blond hair and wore black kohl eyeliner over blue eye shadow, every day.
"Zora! There you are! Can I have a word?" It was the musical's director, Stan Herald, who took himself a bit too seriously for Cora's taste. He also refused to call Zora by Zee, even though she'd asked him to several times.
"Catch you two later," Zee said, and followed Stan into the wings. "I'll bring the flowers by then."
After they had finished cleaning up, Cora whispered, "Let's get out of here ... while we still can."CHAPTER 2
Cora and Jane made their great escape from the theater to the streets of Indigo Gap. They walked briskly, passing several local businesses: the florist, the paper shop, and the Blue Dawg Diner.
"Do you have everything you need for your class?" Cora asked. "I know you were expecting more materials."
Jane nodded. "Everything is set."
Jane planned a mini-class on making raku beads. As a potter, she understood all about clay and already possessed the tools and materials for the class. Embellishments and instruments were ordered for the crafters. Cora had peeked at the beads Jane fashioned while practicing for the class. Jane thought of them as whimsical projects, but Cora was amazed by them. Because of the firing techniques and the materials used, the clay resembled glass. Jane's beads shimmered with colorful translucency, reminding Cora of swirly carnival glass.
"I'm so looking forward to this retreat," Jane said. "What a great idea to hold a retreat for moms after the summer. Maybe we can make this an annual event."
"Let's see how the first one goes," Cora said. "For now, I'm all for it."
"I like the idea of a single craft, but with each teacher adding their own unique element," Jane said.
This crafty moms retreat was the first. Up until this point, at each retreat Cora and Jane had offered two or three different crafts.
"Well, beading lends itself to it," Cora said. "I'm looking forward to Ruby's herbal beading class."
"She's a bit more prickly than usual," Jane said. "I hope everything is okay with her."
Now the third partner in their craft retreat business, Ruby lived in the gardener's cottage on the property and came with the purchase of Cora's house-turned-retreat center. She was a local and a gifted herbalist, both of which benefited the business.
"I wouldn't worry about it. I think she's just a moody person," Cora said.
"It's almost time for me to pick up London from school," Jane said, as they approached Kildare House. "I'll catch you later."
"You should come by later and check out Zee's floral arrangements," Cora said.
"I'll try," Jane replied as she walked around the side of Kildare House and back to her carriage house abode. She and London lived in a second- floor apartment, over Jane's pottery studio and shop.
Tomorrow, along with their guest teacher's arrival, a few of the crafters would be arriving as well, so Cora took this time to once again make certain everything was prepared for them. She walked through each room and each bathroom, inspecting things. Did everybody have enough towels? Soap? Sheets? Extra blankets? Satisfied that everything seemed to be in order, she moved along at a brisk pace until she arrived at Mémé's Boudoir, where she always paused because the room was filled with her grandmother's things. Worn French linen covered the bed, lacy antique linen hung on the walls in French-inspired, gilded frames, and old family photos sat on the dresser on top of a long frilly doily. Perhaps it was just the memory of the woman who saved all these treasures for Cora, or maybe the items themselves held a comforting vibe. She smoothed over the bed, and the feel of the soft linen on her skin calmed her.
When she thought of calm and comfort, Cora's thoughts moved to Adrian, her boyfriend, who was working late tonight at the public elementary school. As the school librarian, he was readying for parent night, tidying up his library. She'd not gotten to see him much over the past few weeks because school was in session and she'd been recruited into helping out with the IndigoArts play. Never again, she told herself.
Just then her cell phone rang. "Cora Chevalier," she answered.
"Hi, Cora, this is Roni Davis."
"Hi, Roni, how can I help you?" Cora asked.
"I'm one of your retreaters and I completely miscalculated how many days it would take me to drive to Indigo Gap from Virginia, so I'm almost there. Should I get a hotel room, or is it okay for me to just come to Kildare House?"
So much for having the night to herself.
"You're welcome to come here. No worries," Cora said. She wondered what Jane would say. She'd been telling Cora she ought to work on her "need to please" and set more boundaries.
"Thanks so much," Roni said. "I'll pay you for the extra night."
"Thank you," Cora said, thinking that would make Jane happy. "We'll see you in a bit."
Cora sat on the edge of the bed, surrounded by her grandmother's worn but beautiful objects. Sometimes she felt like pinching herself. Could it be that her dreams were all actually coming true? The Crafty Moms' Escape Weekend was her third retreat — and the arrangements were all in place. She expected blips, such as a guest arriving earlier than intended. Cora could manage. She was managing. She hadn't had a panic attack in months.
Not only was her professional life coming together, but she and Adrian were moving along in their relationship. She had a great boyfriend, a lovely home, and a booming craft retreat business. Dare she hope for even more success and happiness?
After giving everything a final check, Cora called Zee. She was late with the flowers, which was totally unlike her. She didn't answer her phone, which was also unlike her.
Oh well, Cora thought, maybe she'd gotten busy at the theater. After all, it was opening night.
Cora set off to check over the gift baskets, which had become a signature of their retreats. Each crafter received a basketful of tools and crafting goodies on arrival. Almost everything they needed was in the baskets — beads, wire, felt. Gifts from a few local crafters were also included, such as a paper pack from the new paper shop and tiny felted birds from an art teacher at the high school who had a craft business on the side.
Her phone rang, interrupting her thoughts and her checking over the baskets. "Cora Chevalier."
"Hello?" Cora said when no one spoke at first.
Cora's heart raced. "What's wrong?"
"I can't bring your flowers. I'm at the ... I'm at the police station."
"It's Stan. He's dead."
"What? What happened?"
Zee inhaled and exhaled into the phone before answering. "It was no accident. Someone killed him, and they think it was me."CHAPTER 3
Cora reached for her tapestry handbag, her keys, and a scarf. She needed to get to the police station, and fast. Poor Zee! Cora knew she didn't kill Stan. What was going on? Why would they even bother questioning her?
What an odd town Indigo Gap, North Carolina, is, she thought. She'd been here a little over a year, and this was the third murder. Murder? Surely not. Surely Zee must be mistaken. Who would kill a director at the theater on opening night? Zee must be upset and confused.
With a new mission to get to the bottom of this mess before her crafters arrived, Cora wrapped a scarf around her neck, took a quick look at herself in the mirror, and opened the door.
A woman wearing purple eyeglasses and a wrinkled brown velour tracksuit stood smiling at her. Short, round, with a pleasant smile, she extended her hand.
"Hello," she said, "I'm Roni."
"Oh! Roni!" Cora said. "Please come in!"
"Thank you," she said, dragging her roller suitcase behind her. It thudded on the chestnut floors, and the wheels made a whirring noise as they spun along. She stopped and gasped as she took in the house. "What a gorgeous place!"
Cora beamed. "Thanks. It's a work in progress."
Roni stood back from the staircase in awe. "Look at that. The woodwork is astounding!" she said.
Cora reacted the same way when she first walked into the place. They didn't build staircases like this anymore, with such exquisite attention to detail on the bannister and the stairs.
"And the floors!"
"Yes," Cora said, wondering if she was ever going to get out of here now that a guest arrived. "The house was built in the 1800s, by an Irish immigrant family."
"They must have done pretty well for themselves," Roni said with her eyes wide.
"Yes, I'd say so," Cora replied. "Would you like me to show you around?" She was too polite not to ask, but she hoped Roni would say no.
"Would I?" Roni clutched her ample chest. "Yes!"
"You can leave your bag there. I'll just take you quickly around the place," Cora said, and smiled. She loved the reaction of people when they came to Kildare House. It was a work of art, and she was still managing to find new things to love about it every day. Even the creaky floors. She felt as if each nook and cranny held history, memories, and stories; each window held dreams.
She hated to rush Roni along, but Zee was at the police station, thinking she was a suspect for murder. She must be mistaken. Zee must be confused and in shock.
"How lovely. Did you decorate the place yourself?" Roni said. "I love the way you've incorporated handmade crafts and goods. Is that a Moroccan tile table?"
"Yes, it was a gift," Cora said. "In fact, most of the dÃ©cor is handmade items from friends and old clients."
There were colorful hand-loomed rugs, macramÃ© and hand-woven wall hangings, knitted and crocheted throws and pillows. Paintings and clay work. All of it a testament to the art of crafting.
"Through here is the dining room," Cora said, leading her through the French doors into the next room.
"I just love the old built-ins," Roni said.
"Yes," Cora said. "Me too. Through there is the craft wing. You'll be spending a lot of time there."
Cora hoped Roni wouldn't insist on going in — and she didn't. Cora wanted to visit Zee. But Kildare House was her business. And more than that, it would be impolite just to leave her guest to wander through the house when she had just arrived.
"We have several craft-themed rooms," Cora went on, and Roni followed through the hallway. She pointed to the paper-crafting room. "You can do any crafting here you want. There's the paper-crafting room. And over here is the fiber arts room. We have a mini-loom inside. Do you weave?"
"Heavens no," she said. "I design jewelry. I'm all about jewelry. I guess I wouldn't mind some of this other stuff, but I'm here to learn about beads. I've tried to get to some of her other retreats and classes, and my schedule didn't allow for it."
"Oh," Cora said. "I'm so glad you could make it. Which room did you reserve? Do you remember?"
"The Brigid Room," she said. "I remember reading about St. Brigid and the goddess Brigid and thought it would be fun to stay in there."
"Brigid is our patron goddess or saint if you will," Cora said. "Follow me." She led Roni up the first flight of stairs and stopped at the landing. Cora loved to show off the stained glass window here.
"Is that her? Is that Brigid?"
"Yes, it is," Cora said. "Now, your room has several Brigid items in it. Some statues that Jane Starr made, some prints, and so on. I hope you like it."
Cora continued up the second flight of stairs. The third step always creaked. "The family who built this house were from Kildare, Ireland. There is a small St. Brigid church there. It was built on top of a pagan site for Brigid, the goddess of Irish myth. I read that archeologists have unearthed a fire pit and other parts of the ancient temple."
"Fascinating," Roni said. "So the family named their house after their hometown and have a stained glass window of the town saint. That's just way too cool!"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Assault and Beadery"
Copyright © 2018 Mollie Cox Bryan.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the first book that I have read in this series. Not a problem at all! It was quite good and I really liked how the author had Cora telling the story but then occasionally Jane would be telling the story. Very well done! All in all, it was a good book and I would definitely read another in this series.
It is beautiful to see how much Cora and Jane heal and grow in each book. These ladies have really come a long way. The point of view is predominately Cora's, but every once and a while it switches over to Jane. I love this! It helps us to see the situations from the other character's perspective while also giving us a deeper glimpse into each woman. I especially love seeing Jane strive to make her daughter and herself happy. She is one of those characters you get invested in and want to succeed. Cora and Jane's friendship is ironclad which obviously makes them the perfect crime fighting team! And let's not forget the plucky and sometimes moody but completely lovable Ruby who rounds out the trio. Together they make beautiful creations and catch murderers. All while trying to run a business and take care of their guests. Even with all of the murder and mayhem going on, the craft theme is always prevalent. I absolutely adore the fact that we not only get thorough explanations of all the crafts, but there are instructions for many in the back of the book! If you find yourself saying " I wish I could make that! " while reading the book, guess what? You can! The mystery in this one was a puzzler. Even the police seemed to be having an especially hard time. If you like your cozies with a strong mystery, than this is your book. Actually, than this is your entire series! All of the books have solid mysteries that are sure to keep you guessing. Cora's relationship with her boyfriend Adrian, a librarian at the local school, seems to be coming along nicely. Her friendship with Brodsky, the homicide detective, is one of my favorite aspects of the books. They both suffer from anxiety and are very supportive of each other. I would have liked to see a bit more of Cashel, Ruby's lawyer son. There were plenty of mentions of him, but not as much dialogue. Get comfortable because once you pick up this book, you won't want to put it down until you have devoured every last word! I received a free copy of this book. I am voluntarily leaving a review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
First time reading a book by Mollie and LOVED it ESPECIALLY with the Suspense that was hard to put the book down. I'm glad the right person got arrested in the end :D and I will definatly be reading more by this author!!
Decent mystery with several good suspects. I don't make beads but the methods weren't overly described which could have made the plot drag. However there are great instructions at the end if you want to try them. I enjoyed the setting and would like to revisit in additional books. This is not the first in the series but I didn't feel lost.
Dollycas’s Thoughts We return back to Indigo Gap just in time for the Crafty Mom’s Escape Weekend. In addition to getting ready for the event, Cora is helping with scenery for the upcoming play at the local theater. But before the curtain goes up for the production, the curtain comes down on its director, Stan Herald. Cora’s friend Zee is found near his body and becomes the prime murder suspect. Cora, Jane, and Ruby know their friend is innocent. They commit to finding the real killer to free their friend all while handling the Mom’s who have escaped for a fun and crafty weekend. Hopefully, the weekend will be a beading success on both counts. A strong group of friends shines within these pages. Cora, Ruby, Jane, Cashel, come together to help their friend Zee. Cashel handles the legal stuff. Cora and Jane do the sleuthing. Ruby does whatever is needed so the others can do their thing. In this story, that means keeping the moms entertained and she does is well. These characters are a lively group and people I would love to be friends with, tagging along crafting and sleuthing would be a blast. It does take a group of people to handle everything happening within these pages. Mollie Cox Bryan has crafted a clever mystery to go along with the crafting theme. Twists and turns really kept me guessing. Even after a confession, the case is not solved. This was a good one that kept me guessing right up until the end. It is stories like these that make me love cozy mysteries. Before an accident left my right side paralyzed I was quite the crafter. Books in this series have not only brought back great memories but allowed me to vicariously do some arts and crafts. In fact, I think I could make some of the beads described with one hand and just a little bit of help with the cutting. Wonderful characters, a great mystery, and fun crafts make this story A Perfect Escape! I am ready to book my next trip to Indigo Gap!
This is the fourth in the series and my introduction to the author and series. The novel could function as a standalone, however, characters and location well developed. Indigo Gap is described as a small mountain community and tourist destination offering beautiful scenery, quaint B&B's, cafes, and streets all named in exotic blue colors. Cora, Jane, and Ruby, are partners in the Kildare House in Indigo Gap, NC, a historic Victorian. They fill their investment by holding specialized retreats, this one with special guest leader, Lena, who will introduce projects in beading along with other crafting ideas. The description of the home had me wishing I could take a tour! That is, until you get to the kitchen, which in their rehab process was put on the back-burner. In addition to preparing to receive their guests, they got involved with the local community playhouse and helped to paint backgrounds for the production slated to open. Unfortunately, the director is found deceased on the stage and their B&B neighbor and friend Zee found beside him with a bloody knife. They know Zee couldn't have done it, but how well do they know her--really? I appreciated the atmosphere of the little town, the pride of the locals in their community, and the descriptions of the projects. The protagonists have made major changes in their lives and appear to be conquering difficult histories. However, Cora emerges as a rather weak-kneed protagonist fighting panic attacks. The weekend retreat seemed to last more than a Saturday/Sunday, as there was a lot of free time to go sleuthing, and no one ever fixed a meal. (Lots of restaurant referrals.) It is cozy paced and well-plotted, just a little slow for me. Red herrings are thrown in, then dissed, and the antagonist was not a surprise. I was given this download by the publisher and NetGalley for this book tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any heavy into crafting, particularly beading, or for someone you know would appreciate those hints and ideas--a little mystery with the craft projects!
ASSAULT AND BEADERY is the last book in the Cora Crafts Mysteries series by Mollie Cox Bryan. This is the first book by Mollie that I have read. It surely won’t be my last. If you love cozy mysteries than this is a book for you. Be sure to get your copy of ASSAULT AND BEADERY today.
ASSAULT AND BEADERY is the last book in the Cora Crafts Mysteries series by Mollie Cox Bryan. This is the first book by Mollie that I have read. It surely won’t be my last. If you love cozy mysteries than this is a book for you. Be sure to get your copy of ASSAULT AND BEADERY today.
Mothers are the thread that bind this crafting mystery. ASSAULT AND BEADERY by Mollie Cox Bryan The Fourth Cora Crafts Mystery Cora Chevalier and her business partner Jane are thrilled that their time at IndigoArts is almost over. Corralled to help design and paint the scenery by their friend Zee, the duo have had enough of the egotistical director and the stage mothers. Plus, a new retreat is about to start. This time they decided to create a retreat for moms featuring a big name beader. When one guest shows up early, Cora is thrown a tad off schedule, but she's thrown even more when she receives a phone call from Zee. Zee won't be bringing the floral arrangements she promised-she's in jail, suspected of murdering the IndigoArts director! Mothers are the thread that bind this crafting mystery. We see mothers taking time for themselves, mothers putting their children first, mothers on the warpath, mothers desperately missing their children, and more. For someone who has no desire to be a mother, some of it was a bit much, but I'm sure anyone with kids will love this theme and commiserate with several of the mothers found in these pages. The mystery itself was quite interesting, most people disliked the egotistical director, but who would actually want to kill him? Cora deals with trying to shelter her retreat participants from the murder, only to discover one of them could be the killer! Mollie Cox Bryan creates a wonderful atmosphere for her retreats. It's an insulated world of creativity and acceptance...and in this case some mothers gone wild! Cora better watch her liquor cabinet more carefully. I love the variety of crafts that are showcased and enjoy learning more about them. I actually make Artist Trading Cards, so it was fun reading about that. ASSAULT AND BEADERY is an engaging mystery that empowers women while comforting them. FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.
Cora is settling into her life in Indigo Gap, North Carolina. She is a incredibly talented crafter, and she has used those skills and talents to build a craft retreat business. She has has a wonderful, caring boyfriend, Adrian. Things are going wonderfully until murder enters the picture...again. This time it’s Stan Herald, the director of the local theater group. What makes it worse is her friend, Zee is the prime suspect. Cora can’t resist...she has to save her friend! Not only is there the mystery of Stan’s death, but Zee, herself, is a mystery. Cora isn’t sure about Zee’s past. For instance, she isn’t even certain how old Zee really is. She has her work cut out for her, but that is the thing about Cora….she doesn’t give up very easily. It’s one of the things I love most about her. I think everyone needs a Cora in their lives. She is completely loyal to those she loves. The writing was fantastic as well as the cast of secondary characters, such as Adrian, Ruby, and Jane. They each added a great deal to the storyline. Heck, even the town of Indigo Gap is a character. She wrote the setting so well that I felt like I was a part of it myself. As much as this is a cozy mystery, it is so much more! Underneath the storyline is the theme of overcoming obstacles and how you move forward...basically reinventing yourself. That really struck a chord for me and sets this book somewhat apart from other books in the genre. I love when the author includes little extras, and Bryan not only gave her readers one thing but several, from crafts to recipes, and some I might even be brave enough to try. Looking forward to returning to quaint Indigo Gap in the future
The Kildare House, run by Cora, Jane and Ruby, is hosting its’ third crafting retreat, this one aimed at moms. I loved that theme, time to craft is precious when you factor in all of life’s activities. The local theater company is doing a production of Fiddler, and both Jane and Cora were drafted to do some set design. As with many small towns, tensions run high among those who feel they or their children are more deserving of roles than others. When the director is found dead, and with their friend Zee a number one suspect, Cora and Jane find it hard to concentrate on beading. I feel like we get more of the story with thoughts flowing from both Jane and Cora as the investigation into the death continues. There were some great twists that kept me guessing until close to the end about the eventual reveal.