Tagging along to an estate sale with her fellow Needlepointer, antiques shop owner Sarah Byrne, Angie Curtis impulsively bids on a tattered embroidery of a coat of arms. When she gets her prize back home to Haven Harbor, she discovers a document from 1757 behind the framed needlework—a claim for a child from a foundling hospital. Intrigued, Angie is determined to find the common thread between the child and the coat of arms.
Accepting her reporter friend Clem Walker's invitation to talk about her find on the local TV news, Angie makes an appeal to anyone who might have information. Instead, both women receive death threats. When Clem is found shot to death in a parking lot, Angie fears her own life may be in jeopardy. She has to unravel this historical mystery—or she may be the next one going, going . . . gone . . .
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"Happy the maid who circling years improve Her God the object of her warmest love Whose cheerful hours in pleasant moments The book the needle and the pen divide."
— Stitched, with three alphabets, in 1794 by Lucy Davis, age thirteen, in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
"This is an adventure?" I grumbled, still half asleep, as I maneuvered my sweatered-parkaed-and-booted self into the passenger seat of the faded red van Sarah Byrne used for her antiques business. "The sun isn't even up. I couldn't read the thermometer outside my kitchen window clearly because it was covered with snow, but the temperature is somewhere near zero."
Sarah laughed. "Good morning, Angie! Aren't you the born Mainer who likes to take early morning walks?"
"Not in the dark. Not in a deep freeze. So ... not in February." I managed to fasten my seatbelt after lengthening it to fit over all my cold weather attire. "And definitely not without coffee." I'd managed to get myself out from under my quilts and feed Trixi, my six-month-old black kitten, but I hadn't had time to make coffee. "When I lived in Arizona I missed Maine winters and hated the heat. I'd forgotten about frozen noses and toes." I looked out at the dark world. "Although once the sun comes up all that snow and sparkling ice will be beautiful."
"'It sifts from Leaden Sieves — / It powders all the Wood. / It fills with Alabaster Wool / The Wrinkles of the Road —'" said Sarah.
"Emily Dickinson quotation, right?" I wasn't even wide-awake yet, and Sarah was already spouting lines from her favorite poet.
"Emily always has something relevant to say," she said, smiling at me. "Don't worry. Coffee is doable. We'll stop at the Dunkin' Donuts up on Route 1. You'll have plenty of time to wake up before we get to Augusta."
"The auction doesn't start until nine o'clock," I complained. "Why did we have to leave at five-thirty?"
"The preview opens at seven, and it takes more than ninety minutes to get to Augusta," she reminded me. "You and Patrick went to Portland yesterday to check out art galleries, so we couldn't go to the preview then. We have to get to the auction house in time to register and claim seats and check out the lots being auctioned. Sales are always 'as is, where is.' Auctioneers sometimes miss details, and no auctioneer knows about all antiques. You can't totally depend on his or her word for anything during the sale."
"Definitely not," said Sarah. "That's why we have to decide ahead of time what we want to bid on, and how much we're willing to spend on each item. It's easy to get carried away and spend too much if you haven't planned ahead."
"And you do this once or twice a week." I shook my head incredulously, hoping the motion would help keep my eyes open.
"This time of year I pick up inventory for next summer. Summer's when antique collectors and people furnishing their homes in 'authentic' period styles invade Maine with full wallets and open credit cards. I only open my shop 'by appointment or chance' in January and February."
I hadn't known anything about antiques (other than those I'd grown up with in my early nineteenth-century home) until I'd met Sarah. Some of her antiques were fascinating, and some strange. But she made a living from her shop, From Here and There, so she knew what she was doing. Months ago I'd said it might be fun to attend an auction; auctions were a Maine experience I'd missed.
This was the first one she'd thought I might be interested in. Several pieces of antique needlework were being sold, and, after all, the business I managed, Mainely Needlepoint, was all about needlework. Most of the time we did new custom work, but we also identified and restored older pieces.
"Did you and Patrick have fun in Portland yesterday?"
The heater in the van was beginning to make a difference. My nose was no longer frozen, and I pulled off my gloves. "We had a good day. Patrick's been on a painting binge for the past month. He still has trouble holding a brush because of his burn scars, but his occupational therapist says painting will improve his flexibility. Between his painting and opening his gallery on weekends, I haven't seen him much recently. I've been organizing the accounts for Mainely Needlepoint and contacting decorators we haven't worked with to try to add some commissioned projects. So when Patrick suggested I go with him to Portland to check out other galleries, I agreed. He's looking for galleries that might feature his art, and, at the same time, collecting names of artists to add to his gallery here in Haven Harbor." I was getting a crash course in art. Dating an artist and gallerist could do that.
"I'll bet you had a good lunch, too. Portland has great restaurants."
I nodded. "But not a long lunch. A lot of galleries are in Portland." My feet had hurt after walking all day in my L.L. Bean boots. They kept out snow and slush, but, despite my heaviest wool socks, they weren't comfortable for long city walks.
"Did Patrick find any artists whose work he liked?"
"A couple he's going to contact. And Clem — you remember Clem Walker?"
"That television reporter you went to high school with?" Sarah crinkled her nose. "Couldn't forget her. She was here at Christmas, along with her crew, filming people like Skye, who wanted a quiet holiday without publicity."
Patrick's mother, Skye West, was a well-known actress, and Clem and her camera crew had been pesky around the holidays. "She was, I'll admit. But she's an old friend, and she's helped me out a couple of times in the past year. Sometimes a reporter has to be a pest to get a story. Anyway, she called me a few times in January. She's dating Steve Jeffries, a sculptor from Biddeford, and she wanted Patrick to see his latest exhibit. She's hoping Patrick will take a couple of Steve's constructions for his gallery. Yesterday we saw some of his work."
"How was it?"
"Large. Interesting. Movable metal sculptures someone with a lot of money might install in his or her garden or in front of their business. Abstract, of course. Some were wind-sensitive, like giant pinwheels."
"Sounds big for Patrick's gallery."
"True. But he was intrigued by a couple of Steve's smaller pieces. In any case, art was yesterday. Today is antiques. I'll be excited as soon as I wake up."
Sarah pulled between mounds of plowed snow into the Dunkin' Donuts parking lot and joined the cars in the takeout line. "One large hot chocolate with whipped cream," she ordered, and then looked at me.
Sarah knew me well. "And one large coffee, black. Plus a small box of assorted donut holes." She winked at me. "Sugar for energy, right?"
A few minutes later we were back on our way, sipping and munching.
"We'll make good time," said Sarah. "I was afraid the roads would be icy, but so far they've been sanded."
Route 1 was clear of snow, although in the early morning darkness it was like driving through a white-walled tunnel.
The coast of Maine gets little snow most years, considerably less than western or northern Maine, or the White Mountains in New Hampshire. But this year had been different. We hadn't seen grass since Thanksgiving.
"Road crews are out twenty-four hours a day when they're needed."
"You're right," said Sarah. "I haven't missed one auction this winter, or had one canceled. Everyone with a truck seems to have a plow attachment."
"Plowing is one of the winter jobs fishermen and landscapers and those in summer tourist industries count on," I agreed. "At least in years when there's snow."
"Most Mainers welcome snow." Sarah shook her head. "Open winters, when there's little snow, are devastating for people who work in winter tourist industries like skiing or snowboarding or snowmobiling."
"So ... before we get to Augusta, fill me in. I know there are needlepointed pictures and samplers in the sale that we'll check out. What else do we have to do?"
"First, we register and get our bidding numbers," Sarah explained. "We'll have separate numbers, since I'm a dealer."
"What's the difference?" I asked, relishing a jelly-filled donut hole and trying to keep from dripping jelly on my parka.
"I don't have to pay sales tax, since what I'll buy will be for resale," Sarah explained. "You have to pay tax. We both have to pay the buyer's premium."
"Fifteen to twenty percent added to the winning bid that goes to the auctioneer and his staff. So when you bid, remember, including taxes, you'll be paying twenty-five percent more for each item than you've bid."
"That's a lot," I commented.
"It can add up," Sarah agreed. "But unless there's a bidding war, auction prices are lower than retail. They have to be, or dealers wouldn't buy, and most of the bidders today will be dealers. And because dealers will only bid wholesale values, people like you, making personal purchases, can get bargains."
"I remember the mink coat you wore to Skye's Christmas party," I reminded her. "You got that really cheap."
"I did," she agreed. "Not everyone wants fur these days. But I don't think any fur coats will be in this auction. Most of the lots today, according to the flier, are furnishings from two estates near Augusta. Old Maine families."
"Why wouldn't the families keep their heirlooms?"
Sarah shrugged. "Sometimes multiple heirs can't agree on dividing an estate. Should they consider current value? Memories and sentiment? How can distributions be made equitable? So instead of arguing they put everything up at auction and bid against one another for whatever they want. And, of course, sometimes no one in the family wants anything, so it all ends up at auction. Technically, we're going to an estate sale. More typical auctions include items consigned by many different people."
"An estate auction doesn't sound like fun for the families involved."
"No," Sarah agreed. "But their loss may be our gain."
I shook my head. "I'm lucky I'm the only descendant in my family. Gram's already given me her house and a lot of the things in it." Gram had married Reverend Tom last June and moved down the street to the rectory, where Tom lived. They were happy, and, at twenty-eight, I'd unexpectedly found myself the owner of a large Haven Harbor house. I was still getting used to the challenges of home ownership. "What families are selling their estates at this auction?" Maybe I'd heard of one.
"The brochure didn't say. Consigners don't always want to be identified, because of family squabbles, or financial difficulties, or just because they want privacy. Every family's different." Sarah didn't need to say anything more. Her recent family experiences with inheritances had not been positive.
"Not knowing who the owners were makes it all a little mysterious," I added.
"Sellers at auctions are seldom identified. People downsizing; people who've cleaned out their attics or barns and found interesting items they don't want to keep. People who've inherited things their parents treasured, but that they don't want. 'Our own possession — though our own — / 'Tis well to hoard anew — / Remembering the Dimensions / Of Possibility.' Remember that collection of antique needleworking tools I bought last fall?"
"Of course. Gram loves the Limoges needle and thimble cases I gave her for Christmas."
"That collection had been handed down a couple of generations. Earlier owners had added to it, but the current owner removed a few items she was especially attached to, and then auctioned off the rest. That happens, especially when someone has amassed a large collection. No one in the family wants the whole collection, so it ends up at an auction house where it's bought by other collectors, or by dealers."
"So, what do we do after we register and get bidding numbers?" I asked, wiping sugar off my hands and lap and finishing my coffee. The sun wouldn't be up until almost seven, about the time we'd get to the auction house. But I finally felt awake.
"We put our coats on the seats we want, to reserve them, and we buy catalogs."
"Lists of everything to be sold?"
"Right. In the order they'll be sold. The list includes a brief description, and an estimate of the amount the auctioneer thinks the lot will go for. That's helpful, but don't feel confident or intimidated by the estimates. They can be wildly inaccurate," Sarah advised. "And remember, you're bidding not only against people in the room, but also those bidding by telephone or Internet, and those who've left bids before the auction starts. What each item is sold for depends more on who the bidders are on any given day than on the lot's value, although both are important. A mid-nineteenth-century iron bank in the shape of an elephant may be worth seventy-five dollars to an antique dealer. But if there are collectors of banks, or collectors of elephants, in the audience, it could go for hundreds. Dealers drop out of the bidding when it gets too high for them to resell at a profit, but collectors sometimes keep going way above retail prices."
It sounded complicated.
"And then we get to look at the items themselves?"
"Exactly," Sarah confirmed. "We'll both want to look at the samplers and other needleworked items, but after that we can wander. I want to check out the pine furniture they advertised and the folk art and antique toys. They sell well for me."
"I'll look at the jewelry," I mused. "You once told me jewelry can go below appraised value, and I only have one or two pieces that aren't costume jewelry. It would be fun to dream."
"Exactly what auctions are for," Sarah confirmed.
The van was heating up, or maybe I was, after the coffee. "Sorry to have been so grumpy when you picked me up," I said. "I'm looking forward to this. My first auction! It's like a treasure hunt."
"You never know what you might find," Sarah agreed. "Just make sure to look carefully at anything you might bid on, so you don't have any surprises after you get it home."CHAPTER 2
"We have nearly, if not quite, lost the art of embroidering in wool, in which our grandmothers so excelled. Tokens of their labor and skill remain in many an old country house, where coarse twilled calico, or perhaps a flimsy neutral fabric of neutral tint, has been transformed into a priceless heirloom, covered diagonally by foliage and birds in worsted embroidery."
— From Peterson's Magazine (an American magazine for women), April 1874.
The auction house parking lot was full. Most of the spots between piles of plowed snow were filled by trucks or vans; the occasional car was an exception. And, despite the month and weather, license plates were not only from Maine but also from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and even North Carolina.
"Dealers," Sarah pointed out. "The brochure was designed to be enticing. Two old families, items from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and possibly before. That's catnip to an antique dealer."
We lined up at the registration desk. The other bidders ranged in age from twenties to, I suspected, eighties. Many seemed to know one another. Sarah gave the auctioneer's wife, who was registering bidders, her Maine resale certificate. All I had to do was fill out my contact information and a credit card number. ("There's a surcharge if you use the credit card. Paying by cash or check is preferred. The credit card is just backup," Sarah whispered.) Or, I figured, to be used if I took whatever I'd bought and headed out without paying. I was glad I'd brought my checkbook.
Sarah was number sixty-three, and I was sixty-four. Lucky numbers? I hoped.
My adrenaline (or was it the caffeine?) was flowing as we hung our coats on two seats in the third row, on an aisle.
"So we can get out easily if we want to buy coffee or use the ladies' room," Sarah explained. "From the third row we can see the items as well as anyone, but the runners won't be stepping on our feet."
"The men and women who get the items from the display room, bring them to the auctioneer, and then walk them around to display them while the bidding is going on. If the items are small, the runner will then deliver them to the highest bidder."
I nodded, fascinated. This world had its own vocabulary.
The display room of the auction house was about the size of a high school basketball court, but with a lower ceiling. Paintings, prints, quilts, wall clocks, mounted deer, moose, and bear heads, and an assortment of household items like bed warmers, farm tools, and copper pans were hung on one wall. Rows of furniture, from potty chairs to beds to bureaus, dining room tables, desks, rocking horses, and butter churns, stood in rows in the middle of the room. Glass cases of jewelry, china, old guns, and small decorative items were along the back wall. Carpets and rugs filled one corner. The rest of the items, from kitchen tools to snuff boxes to dollhouses to writing boxes, were arranged on tables.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Thread Herrings"
Copyright © 2018 Lea Wait.
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It’s February and everyone is quietly performing their winter tasks, which means Sarah is visiting several auctions and restocking her shop. Never having been to an auction, Angie goes along – and here we are treated to information about estate auctions from a dealer’s perspective, and see the pieces during the viewing. While Sarah finds pieces that she can resell and use as stock, Angie finds a not-particularly well-preserved piece of needlework, a coat of arms, a rarity in New England. Bidding on the piece, Angie is the winner – and takes the unusual piece home, full of questions. Taking the piece from the frame, Angie finds clues and a mystery hidden behind the piece, all needing more investigation. Discovering the two old Maine families whose items provided the lots for the auction, and some preliminary searching bring Angie to Portland to the history museum, information gathered there gives her new places to search and free hours have her contacting a high school friend turned reporter, and we are off. A one minute spotlight on Angie and her questions about the piece lead to several death threats, the death of her friend Clem, Reverend Thom’s injuries when her car explodes, and danger everywhere. With strangers looking for her in town, footprints around the carriage house that shouldn’t have been there, and a strange couple questioning Sarah about Angie’s piece of embroidery, the questions are never ending. But, frustrated and tired of hiding, an email left by the enquiring couple, a few chance connections made after a news story and cooperation from Sarah bring them face to face with the killer – not quietly as Angie has to use (for the first time) her gun to get Sarah out of danger and be sure the killer is caught. Of course, as in all of this series, insets of work from old samplers worked in colonial and later eras, and the solid feelings of community, friendship and plenty of snow, sea smoke and cold all combine to paint the quaint little town in winter clothes. Wait brings a sense of the place solidly forward while keeping everyone aware of the fact that murder never makes real sense to anyone BUT those willing to kill for something – and in this story the motive of retribution for hurts perceived and done for years was just as silly, even as the tension, questions and information came hard and fast. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This is a great book with a wonderful story and well developed characters. The story flowed very well and was very enjoyable. This book will keep you reading long into the night and you will not want to put this book down until you finish. This was such a great read and full of surprises. I am looking forward to reading other books by this great author.
Thread Herrings is my first book in the series, A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery, but I did not have a problem following along as the author gave good background information. The series takes place in Maine during the cold, snowy month of February in the town of Haven Harbor. Angie Curtis has a web business that involves work by a group of needlepointers called Mainely Needlepoint. Angie sells needlepoint items online that the group makes. When her friend and antiques shop owner, Sarah Byrne, invites Angie to go to an estate auction in Augusta, she decides to go. This is her first auction and she is fascinated by the process and is especially drawn to an old embroidered coat of arms. It is faded and worn, worth very little, if anything but for some reason, she wants it. No one else bid on it, so she was able to buy it. Later, when she took it out of the frame, she found paperwork for a baby left in a foundling hospital two hundred and fifty years ago in 1757. These hospitals took in children that the families could not care for but were able to go back later and get their child back. In the framed coat of arms, was the paperwork for a baby named Charles and there was a ribbon that connected the baby to their family. Angie mentioned her find to her friend, Clem, who is a television reporter. Clem puts together a news small spot for the evening asking for help to find out about the family. Almost immediately after the airing, the station gets threats and later, Angie gets a threatening email on her needlepoint website. Within a day, Clem is murdered and someone is asking for Angie around town. Law enforcement friends encourage Angie to go into hiding so she stays with her boyfriend Patrick while they investigate Clem's murder. This is an interesting story with great characters with small town friendship and support. The plot was well thought out and suspenseful. I was pulled in right away by the action and kept involved to the end. I received an ARC from Kensington Publishing through NetGalley. The thoughts and opinions are mine only.
Thread Herrings is a Winner! Every time I return to Lea Wait’s Haven Harbor, it feels like coming home to good friends. In Thread Herrings, the story centers around Angie and Sarah, whose adventure begins with a visit to an auction. While Sarah successfully bids on several items for her antiques shop, Angie impulsively purchases a embroidered coat of arms which she soon discovers is surrounded by a centuries-old mystery. A piece of paper and a ribbon tucked into the back of its frame lead to questions relating to a child left at a foundling hospital generations before. Curious, Angie attempts to track down information about both the coat of arms and the child. At the invitation of a reporter-friend, Angie appears on a local television show appealing to the public to help identify the family to whom the coat of arms belonged. Soon thereafter, the studio receives death threats against both Angie and the reporter, Clem. When Clem is murdered, Angie once again has to solve a mystery before she becomes the next victim. As always, the mystery is solid. And I really enjoyed learning more about the inner-workings of auctions and ancestral searches. The narration, too, was spot-on and added a lot to my enjoyment of this story. Thread Herrings is yet another excellent offering in the Mainely Needlepoint series.
In the Mainely Needlepoint Mysteries, author Lea Wait has created a rich cast of characters that I always look forward to spending time with. It’s been wonderful watching them change and grow over the course of the series. THREAD HERRINGS was a story I couldn’t tear myself away from. A true page turner of a mystery, with questions stemming from past to present, I just became more and more engrossed. There were scenes that were so emotional, I was literally crying, while other scenes found me gasping or holding my breath. Lea Wait can stitch more excitement and intrigue into one book than some authors can into an entire series. The best installment yet, THREAD HERRINGS is proof of that. Truly a book I won’t soon forget.
Dollycas’s Thoughts Finding treasures at auctions and estate sales is part of the fun, but for Angie Curtis it means MURDER! Her friend, a television reporter is dead and Angie is getting threatened that she will be next. Antique shop owner Sarah Byrne takes Angie to her first auction and she is drawn to a needlework coat of arms. When no one else bids she raises her paddle and takes it home. She takes it out of the frame to see if it can be restored but she finds a real mystery instead, a claim from 1757 for a child from a foundling hospital. While researching to see if the child is connected to the family from the auction she runs into Clem Walker who suggests they do a piece on the local news to see if one of the viewers may have information. Angie agrees and even hosts a party so her family and friends can watch her on television. Clem plans a trip to visit Angie in Haven Harbor to discuss the calls the station received. But Clem doesn’t make the meeting, instead, her body is found. Angie knows to find Clem’s killer she has to find who is connected to the coat of arms. The trouble is to keep her safe she is hiding out and it’s hard to investigate anything stuck in a house. There is so much I enjoyed about this story. It had a totally different feel. The Mainely Needlepointers didn’t do hardly any needle pointing but one member of the group, Ruth, is a key player in solving this mystery. Also, Angie accepts that her life is truly in danger after a hairraising event and actually listens to the police and moves to Patrick’s secure home until the killer is caught. As long as she has her cell phone and laptop she can keep investigating and pass along what she finds to the police. At the core of the story are two prominent Maine families. I love the way 79-year-old erotica author Ruth Hopkins knows her way around the genealogy sites. She delves in and finds as much as she can about the families giving Angie plenty of clues and red herrings to sort through. All of Ms. Wait’s characters are interesting, fleshed out and realistic. Most of the recurring characters are very engaging. Patrick is starting to mesh with the rest but still has some work to do. The closer he and Angie get the more he becomes more real to me. The story is pretty fast-paced and filled with suspense. Key characters are truly in danger and I found myself actually holding my breath waiting to read the actual outcome. I know I was reading much faster from about the midpoint on. The author’s descriptions of each person, place, and even the weather were fantastic. She pulls readers right into this story and holds them tight until the final page. OMG, my heart was racing at the ending! Before my accident auctions and needlepoint were two of my favorite things. Finding samplers and other needlework treasures at auctions always made for a great day. I love that both meshed together in this book. This book reads very well all in its own but I always recommend reading series in order to really get to know the characters. This is a wonderful addition to this series. The next book in the series, Thread on Arrival, will be released April 30, 2019.
Thread Herrings by Lea Wait is the seventh story in A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series. Angie Curtis is the manager of Mainely Needlepoint in Haven Harbor, Maine. Angie is accompanying her friend, Sarah Byrne to an auction in Augusta. Angie has not been to an auction previously and is looking forward to the experience. Angie is intrigued by a half-finished vintage framed needlepoint coat of arms that is not in the best condition and she spontaneously bids on it when none of the other participants show interest. At home, Angie removes the needlework from the frame and finds a pale silk blue embroidered ribbon along with receipt from the London Foundling Hospital dated October 26, 1757 for a child baptized Charles. Angie wants to learn more about the coat of arms and the child, but she is unsuccessful at the Maine Historical Society. She has lunch with Clem Walker, friend and television reporter, who suggests doing a human interest feature and appeal to the public for information. Instead of receiving helpful material, both ladies receive death threats. Soon Clem is found shot dead in car in Haven Harbor and Angie’s car goes boom injuring someone close to her. Angie goes into hiding, but she this does not deter her from investigating. Can she identify the culprit before he finds her? Thread Herrings can be read alone if you have not indulged in any of the previous novels in A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series. Angie goes to her first auction and her friend, Sarah kindly explains auction protocol. Since I have not been to an auction, I found it interesting. I had no idea there was a buyer’s premium added to the hammer price (winning bid). I could tell the author did her research on the London Foundling Hospital, land patents or grants, the billet or receipt for the child and mementoes parents left behind as identifiers (to later claim the child). Lea Wait incorporated the information in a way that made it easy to understand. Ruth Hopkins helps Angie with genealogy research, but we see very little of the other Mainely Needlepoint group. Patrick West is in town and Angie hides out in his finely appointed carriage house. Personally, I am not a fan of Patrick and I keep hoping they will break up. Patrick comes across as superficial (especially when he was discussing the yacht that could only sleep eight). Angie needs a partner with more depth and who is interested in sleuthing. The mystery plays out with clues interspersed up to the reveal. Angie must solve the mystery via phone since she is unable to go out in public which is a unique way of investigating the crime. Readers are unable to play along and solve this whodunit. I could have done without the frequent (I stopped counting after six) mentions of Angie’s gun (a Glock). Angie does manage to indulge in cooking, dining out friends (before the death threats), drinking fine wine, playing with Trixi (her kitten), watch movies, handle business details and check in with Gram. As the action heats up in Thread Herrings, you will find yourself riveted. You cannot help but keep reading to discover how the story plays out.
It’s February in Haven Harbor and Angie and her friend, Sarah Byrne, are going to attend an antique auction. Sarah is looking for items for her antique store, while Angie is attending to see what an auction is like and possibly find some needlepoint items. At the preview for the auction items, Angie finds an interesting embroidered coat of arms. It is in poor shape and Sarah tells her it is probably not worth anything, but it calls to her. When she wins the auction, she takes the piece home and removes it from the frame. In the backing of the piece, she finds a piece of ribbon and a folded piece of paper that is a receipt for baby Charles who was left at the London Foundling Hospital in 1757. Angie's curiosity kicks in and she decides she would like to find out who Charles is and if he has any relatives living in Maine. This decision sets in motion a chain of events that finds a friend of Angie's dead and her life threatened until she is basically under house arrest for her own safety. It is great to see the familiar characters from previous books all present to varying degrees and willing to help her with her research. This is a great mystery, both the historical and the present day murder. Patrick and Angie are still moving forward with their relationship, but Patrick seems to be a bit overbearing in this book, perhaps due to his desire to keep Angie safe. It was really interesting to see how Ruth is able to use geneology to trace the baby left at the hospital and tie it to a political family. Are they ashamed of their past and want Angie to hush up? There are some red herrings, some obscure clues and lots of computer work used in the pulling together of this mystery. Once again, each chapter begins with an example of work from old samplers worked in colonial and later eras. If this does not interest you, you can skip over it, but I enjoy learning about the needlework of the past as it paints a picture of community, relationships and history. I pretty much figured out who the killer was about halfway through the book, but the motive was left until the end. This book has a lot of tension and suspense as well as relationship building and interactions between the Mainely Needlepointers. I recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers, especially if you enjoy more than one storyline that comes together beautifully at the end. The publisher, Kensington Publishing Corporation, generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
A different but good kind of read for me. I am not normally a fan of Historical books. And this one really isn't but there is a lot of history revolving around this story. I think that Lea Wait has drawn me into being more interested in history. The story and the plot is carefully woven to keep the reader interested and turning the pages. I was interested in the antique shop detail. The description and detail about the antique auctions was spot on. I've bought and sold a few antiques and enjoyed auctions. I was taken back and some fond memories were brought to my mind. You'll find a good mystery to try and solve as you turn the pages and you just might become enchanted with the characters. Although Thread Herrings is 7th in the series you'll have no trouble following along. You might want to go back and read the earlier 6 as I plan to. I enjoyed Thread Herrings and plan to read more books by Lea Wait. I received a complimentary copy.
I’ve dipped my toes into this series in more than one place. I’m known for jumping in anywhere. It’s good to be back, seeing what Angie and the inhabitants of Haven Harbor have been doing. Not having read a few of the previous books, I felt like I’d been away for a while and arrived back in town, among friends, learning what all had happened while I’d been away. I could picture us sitting at a cafe table and everyone rushing to tell me all the latest news. So what’s happening now…. Angie is at an antique auction. While perusing the offerings, she comes across a tattered embroidery of a coat of arms. She bids on it and wins. Taking it home, she discovers something hidden in it’s frame and soon after someone is dead and she’s smack in the middle of the investigation. Sorting out the clues is like finding a needle in a haystack, but that doesn’t stop Angie. I admit I was expecting a quick mystery with some fun dialogue and a bit of romance. The author surprised me and took this a step further. There’s a mystery in a mystery, danger around every corner and she really tested the boundaries of her characters. A bit more dark and more suspenseful, this is still a cozy mystery with the quirky characters, small town ambiance and sweet romance that comes with it. I was swept right up, ushered in, offered a chair, and settled myself in for an exciting story.
Angie Curtis, owner of Mainely Needlepoint in Haven Harbor, Maine, is joining her friend, Sarah, at an auction where she bids on an old embroidery of a coat of arms. After winning it, she takes it home and finds a document from 1757 claiming that a child was left at a foundling hospital. Angie decides to look into this mystery, and asks her television reporter friend, Clem Walker, for help. But, when Clem is found dead, and multiple death threats are sent to Angie, she’s forced into hiding and needs her friends’ help to figure out the truth. This story has all the elements that make a powerful cozy mystery. It has wonderfully drawn main characters, a suspenseful plot that leaves the gory details out, and a puzzle that will keep the reader confused until they read the very last page. I loved the way the author showed the way families can be, and what families should be. All children should be cherished no matter where they come from, or the circumstances of their birth. Thank you, Ms. Wait, for a wonderful read. I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley and am voluntarily reviewing it.
I have read almost all of the books in this series. I enjoy the plot lines and the characters. The whodunnits almost always keep me guessing until the end. However, in addition to the great writing, I really enjoy that the series is set in Maine (the state my husband is from) and that it involves needlework as the “hook” that grounds the series. I am a needleworker and can verify the the needlework comments are spot on. When I ask my husband about points regarding to Maine, he tells me Ms. Wait really knows the state. In this book, an older and tattered sampler becomes a point of contention. Our sleuth, Angie Curtis has bought the sampler and when she takes it apart, she finds some interesting and, previously, hidden parts of a “puzzle”. It’s when Angie publicizes this information and asks for help in identifying the, that things begin to happen which threaten her and murder happens. The book can be read stand-alone as it doesn’t rely on previously known facts. I enjoy the series so much, I still recommend that you read it in order. That way you can see how the characters and their relationships with one another have grown. I was provided a digital advance reader copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley.
What an introduction to this author and her series! Ms. Wait really knows her antiques, the business, needlepoint, embroidery, and related samplers and mourning art. The beginning of each chapter includes a child's accounting of a coat of arms (or family crest) embroidery, including familial information. Haven Harbor, Maine, protagonist Angie Curtis of the Mainely Needlepoint shop is invited by her antiques shop owner buddy, Sarah Byrne, to accompany her to an auction. It is her first experience with an auction and the author does a fine job of detailing procedures. During the preview, Angie spies an embroidered coat of arms that catches her fancy. It's when Angie gets her prize home and removes the frame that she discovers a billet (receipt) for Charles from the London Foundling Hospital in 1757 on a lovingly embroidered ribbon. (The billet is meant to match the receipt at the hospital in order to reclaim the child.) No problem to read this as a standalone, story-driven plot. Mainely Needlepoint support characters provide historical and genealogical information, along with her grandmother (the latter of whom raised her). Fascinated, Angie begins to research and investigate along with the help of a former classmate, Clem Walker, a TV personality who persuades her to appeal to the public for information. The TV short results in death threats and shortly Clem is murdered and her grandmother's new hubby injured when he attempts to move Angie's car. Angie is forced into hiding and takes her kitty but continues to quietly push for new information. Certainly an opening that grabs the interest quickly and manages to weave informative and educational tidbits into an intriguing, engaging and well-developed plot. The Maine winter descriptions, while brutal, certainly lent an ambiance to the storyline. The antagonist is worked out through persistent and dogged analysis and is not entirely a surprise, but the motive and conclusion comes off a tad weak. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I thoroughly enjoyed the history and heartily recommend to any who participate in needlework or crafting of any kind. Will also interest any who read cozy mysteries, suspense, and women sleuths. I'm looking forward to Book 8! 4.5/5
I think this installment is the best yet. I can't wait for the next book. Great characters and suspenseful plot.
It's February in Haven Harbor ME, and things are quiet in Angie Curtis' needlepoint business and in her friend Sarah's antique business. Sarah, however, uses the quiet months when there are no tourists to attend auctions and stock up for the busy months. Angie is excited to participate in her first estate auction, with an eye to possibly purchase a historical sampler or two. She quickly finds that those included are out of her price range, but what catches her eye is a poorly framed and deteriorated embroidery of a coat of arms. She is fascinated because it is unusual to see such an embroidery in America. The bidding is fierce, but no one else is interested, and Angie wins the piece. When she takes it apart, she finds an envelope with a "billet" dating back to 1757 describing the admission of an infant named Charles to a foundling hospital and an embroidered ribbon. Incurably curious, Angie sets out to find out what foundling hospital, what happened to Charles, and how the embroidery ended up in Maine. To this end, she enlists all her friends at Mainely Needlepoint, and even mentions it to her friend, Clem, at the local TV station. Clem thinks it would make an excellent short piece for her broadcast. Little do they know that the show will lead to death threats, murder, a bombing and Angie going into hiding. Lea Wait has written another entertaining mystery in the Mainely Needlepoint series, packed with local color and quirky, interesting characters. As a long time visitor to Maine (both summer and winter) Haven Harbor is authentic to me. I always get good ideas for places to visit, this time the sampler collection at the Saco Museum. There is more than a dash of developing romance this time, both for Angie and Sarah. I highly recommend the entire series and hope for more. Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley.com for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.
Midsummer Mayhem is the seventh book in the A Potting Shed Mystery series. One of Pru’s dreams is coming true, the house next to where she is living has a rather extensive and beautiful garden, but the property is gated and rarely open. The property is going to be the site of an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Pru has been asked to take on the set decoration. With the help of her new assistant, Hal, set off to get started on obtaining flowers and shrubs to use as stage decorations. As they are busy setting up, Pru has a chance to observe the actors and they prepare for rehearsals. She is quick to notice that the actor who is playing the lover Lysander seems to be playing that role off stage as well. Then an actor is found dead from an apparent bee sting and evidence shows that it was no accident. Pru’s husband, DI Christopher Pearce asks Pru to be his “ears” as the police begin their investigation. Pearce knows that Pru can get more information from a general conversation with the members of the troupe than he can. Pru finds that this may not always be the case as she talks with various actors that some seem to be not telling all they know about each others history. Then Pru and Christopher come to learn, at the same time, who the guilty party is and an exciting ending lead to an arrest. This is a well written and plotted story with a very interesting cast of characters. The series should appeal to those readers who are gardeners or enjoy reading about English countryside gardens. Not being a gardener I find this series very enjoyable and with a quick click on my Kindle, I can get additional information and description from the Kindle’s dictionary. I will be watching for the next book in this wonderful series.