Anastasia Pollack has her hands full with Lucille, her firebrand mother-in-law, currently in an assisted-living facility for rehab after brain surgery. When Lucille's roommate, a nonagenarian madam who's only semiretired, is strangled in her bed, Lucille moves to the front of the line of suspects. Anastasia, who's on site at the facility as a part-time crafts coordinator, endeavors to identify the victim's other enemies before Lucille ends up in the clink. Some of the residents have a more colorful past than they might readily admit, and, this being New Jersey, anything's possible. VERDICT Chuckles begin on page one and the steady humor sustains a comedic crafts cozy, the third (after Death by Killer Mop Doll). Fabric yo-yos are the featured craft, which will appeal to Depression-era fans and quilters. Recommend for Chris Grabenstein ("John Ceepak" series) and Jess Lourey readers.
A crafts editor's endless streak of bad luck entangles her in yet another murder. Anastasia Pollack's spouse compounded his lying and cheating by dying and leaving her and her two boys with piles of unpaid bills and the mother-in-law from hell. Now, Lucille Pollack, an old-line Communist, is recovering from brain surgery at Sunnyside, an assisted living and rehab center. No sooner does she arrive than she threatens to strangle her motor-mouth roommate, Lyndella Wegner, a 90-something Southern belle with a real talent for crafts. When Lyndella is duly found strangled, Anastasia has to start sleuthing even though her life would be easier with Lucille in jail. Luckily, her decision to substitute for a pregnant friend by taking a part-time job as leader of arts and crafts at Sunnyside has put her right on the scene. The Sunnyside director is rude and overbearing, but most of Anastasia's students are remarkably talented and almost all of them hated Lyndella. A careful reading of Lyndella's craft journals, which Anastasia recovers before they can be thrown in the trash, reveals an amazing past. Lyndella was a prostitute and then a madam with a long list of high-profile customers. Thanks to hormones and Viagra, she was still enjoying an active sex life with just about every male patient at Sunnyside. Anastasia gets support from her hunky tenant, just back from a photo session in Africa, but her own live-in mother, on the hunt for another husband, ignores the family's struggles as she spends her money on new clothes. Soldiering on after the arrival of her husband's hitherto unsuspected half brother, Anastasia puts herself in danger to catch a killer. Winston (Death by Killer Mop Doll, 2012, etc.) provides a long-suffering heroine, amusing characters, a pretty good mystery and a series of crafting projects featuring cloth yo-yos.