In the coastal town of Haven Harbor, blood runs thicker than water—and just as freely . . .
Antique dealer Sarah Byrne has never unspooled the truth about her past to anyone—not even friend and fellow Mainely Needlepointer Angie Curtis. But the enigmatic Aussie finally has the one thing she’s searched for all her life—family. And now she and long-lost half-brother, Ted Lawrence, a wealthy old artist and gallery owner in town, are ready to reveal their secret connection . . .
Ted’s adult children are suspicious of their newfound aunt Sarah—especially after Ted, in declining health, announces plans to leave her his museum-worthy heirloom paintings. So when Ted is poisoned to death during a lobster bake, everyone assumes she’s guilty. If Sarah and Angie can’t track down the real murderer in time, Sarah’s bound to learn how delicate—and deadly—family dynamics can truly be . . .
About the Author
Lea Wait lives on the coast of Maine. A fourth generation antique dealer, and author of the Agatha-nominated Shadows Antique Print mystery series, she loves all things antiques and Maine, and she’s learning to do needlepoint. She also writes historical novels for young people set in (where else?) nineteenth-century Maine. Lea adopted her four daughters when she was single; she’s now the grandmother of eight, and married to artist Bob Thomas. Find her at Facebook, Goodreads, and at www.leawait.com
Read an Excerpt
Tightening the Threads
By Lea Wait
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Lea Wait
All rights reserved.
"Jesus permit thy gracious name to stand. As the first efforts of an infant's hand And while her fingers o'er this canvas move Engage her tender heart to seek thy love."
— "Wrought" by Lucy Ann Babcock, age eleven, in 1831. Lucy lived in Augusta, Maine. Her sampler is now in the Maine State Museum.
Haven Harbor's streets and yards were littered with green leaves that had fallen too soon.
During the ten years I'd lived in the almost perpetually neutral shades of Arizona I'd missed seeing Maine hills glowing with gold and scarlet and orange in late September.
But the only bright color in Haven Harbor this late afternoon was a blood-red sumac bush near the patisserie. I paused, admiring its brilliance. Was it poison sumac? I should ask Dave Percy. He was the Mainely Needlepointer who knew poisons. Poison or not, the bush was gorgeous.
And right now Dave was busy, teaching at the high school during the day and resting his leg at home in the evening. Arrow wounds don't heal quickly.
Besides, I was looking forward to a "girls' night." Just Sarah Byrne and me and a little needlepointing. She was an expert. I wasn't, but I was learning.
I stepped around puddles and cracks in the uneven pavement. ("Step on a crack! Break your mother's back!") Memories of skipping rope and drawing patterns for hopscotch on these pavements took me back twenty years, to serious competitions between friends for neighborhood rope competition bragging rights. I'd practiced hours in my driveway, determined to be the best. In private, I hardly ever missed. In public, I'd been good — but never the best. Never the prettiest. Never the smartest.
After a while I'd given up trying.
I hadn't skipped rope since sixth grade. Now I was twenty-seven. All grown up. Or so I kept telling myself.
I had no desire to relive my childhood, although, like now, memories haunted me.
Sarah's apartment on Main Street above her antiques store wasn't far from my home. She'd promised homemade pizza and time to talk. My contribution was a cold six-pack of Sam Adams. We hadn't had a quiet evening together in weeks. Summers in Maine were busy.
Twilight shaded the harbor as I knocked on Sarah's door.
"Come on in!" she called.
I opened her door and caught my breath. "Where did that come from?" I blurted, as I handed Sarah the six-pack. I stared at her wall.
"It was a gift," she said quietly, putting four of the beer bottles in her refrigerator and handing me one.
The painting was immense — or seemed so in Sarah's small apartment. The canvas was four or five feet long and maybe four feet high. I don't know much about art, but this seascape of pounding surf below the lighthouse standing guard over our harbor was special. I moved closer, drawn to the scene. An unexpected spot of red, a lobsterman's buoy, was barely visible, caught in the waves.
"When? Who?" I asked. "It's amazing." I looked around. "And how did you get it up the stairs and into the apartment?"
Sarah laughed. The streaks of blue and pink in her white hair glinted in the overhead spotlight focused on the painting.
"Practical Angie! You're right. Getting it in here wasn't easy. Jeremy Quill and Patrick West helped me. Jeremy installed the spot, too. Said no painting should be hung without proper lighting." She grinned, and added lines from an Emily Dickinson poem. "'Edifice of Ocean Thy tumultuous Rooms Suit me at a venture Better than the Tombs.'" Sarah might be Australian, but she was also a big Emily fan.
Poetry wasn't my thing. "Who's Jeremy Quill?" I asked. I knew Patrick West, the artist son of actress Skye West. The guy I was — sort of — dating. "And how did Patrick get involved?"
"Jeremy works for Ted Lawrence, over at the gallery. Has for years. Patrick's working there now, too."
Why hadn't Patrick told me he'd taken a job? Sarah saw my expression. "Patrick's only been at the gallery since Labor Day. Ted suggested it would be good for him to get out of his house a couple of days a week and work with art, since his burned hands aren't ready to paint yet. He's helping out Fridays and Saturdays, when they're busiest."
I'd met Ted Lawrence. Tall, elegant, owner of a high-end art gallery down the street here in Haven Harbor, and another at his home outside of town. I'd heard about the prices of his art and been too intimidated to venture into the gallery. Sarah had become friends with him over the past months. He was more than twice her age, and she'd sworn it wasn't a romantic relationship, but she'd been spending a lot of time with him, at the gallery and at his home. I figured sometime she'd explain. So far she hadn't.
"It's spectacular," I said, turning to face the painting. "Mesmerizing. I can almost smell the sea and feel the winds. Did Ted paint it?"
Sarah hesitated. "No. His father did. Robert Lawrence."
That stopped me. Even I'd heard about Robert Lawrence. The Robert Lawrence. One of the finest painters of the twentieth century. People came to Haven Harbor just to see where he'd lived. His work was in collections and museums all over the United States. Maybe the world.
"I love it," Sarah continued, looking at the painting. "It's too big for my apartment, but maybe someday I'll have a better space for it. In the meantime I'll admire it up close."
"But a Robert Lawrence — it must be worth thousands!" I looked from Sarah to the painting and back again.
"Hundreds of thousands," she said softly. "Or maybe millions. His work has been going high in auctions recently."
I sank into Sarah's flowered couch. Her apartment was furnished comfortably with secondhand furniture she'd bought at Maine auctions while she was looking for antiques for her shop, From Here and There. The Lawrence painting was from a totally different world.
"It was a gift?" I asked again, incredulously.
"From Ted. He gave it to me a couple of weeks ago. I've been dying to show it to you, but we've both been busy."
"He gave you a painting that might be worth a million dollars?" Ted Lawrence was an artist himself. I could have understood his giving one of his own paintings to a friend. But this one? "Why?"
"Because I liked it," said Sarah.
"Just because you liked it?" I said incredulously.
"And because Robert Lawrence was my grandfather."CHAPTER 2
"Honor blest the Maid whom circling years improve] Her God the object of her warmest love Whose useful hours successive as they glide The book, the needle and the pen divide."
— Worked in 1805 by Ruth Sewall, age eight, in York, Maine, in silk thread over linen. Ruth was the youngest of six sisters. Her mother died the year she completed this work. When Ruth was nineteen she married Captain Brown Thornton of Saco, Maine, who was forty-seven. After he died she married Dr. Jeremiah Putnam of York; they had two children.
"Robert Lawrence was your grandfather? Haven Harbor's Robert Lawrence?" I couldn't get my head around my Australian friend now claiming Maine roots.
She nodded, flushing.
"But ... how?" And then I realized. "Then Ted Lawrence is your — uncle?"
I started laughing. "If you knew how many people in town wondered about your relationship, about why you two've been spending so much time together. Everyone's assumed you two were ... an item."
Sarah smiled self-consciously and looked down. "We are, I guess. Just not the sort of item people imagined."
"Why haven't you told anyone? Why didn't you tell me?"
"I'm telling you now," she said, looking straight at me. "I'll tell you everything. But you have to keep it a secret. Don't even tell Charlotte."
Not tell my own grandmother? "Why is it a secret?"
"Because Ted hasn't told his children yet. They should know first."
My mind was still confused. "How can Ted Lawrence be your uncle?"
"It's a long story."
"Then put that pizza in the oven, and start talking, Sarah."
She grinned. "Will do."
I followed her to the small kitchen connected to her living room, glancing every few minutes at the painting that dominated the space. "I've always wondered how you happened to end up here in Maine."
Sarah sprinkled her dough with several cheeses and seasonings and added artichoke hearts, black olives, sliced scallions, and crumbled bacon. "These toppings okay?" she asked.
"Better than fine," I said, peeking over her shoulder at the pizza-in-progress. "Of course, we're going to die because of that bacon."
"Then we'll die happy," she pronounced. "I have enough dough for another pie if we finish this one. The second will be cheeses and wild mushrooms." She slid the pizza into her oven. "About fifteen minutes, I'd say. Let's sit."
I'd seen spectacular sunsets from Sarah's windows on other evenings. But today's gray day had turned to night. The only bright colors I could see were in the Robert Lawrence painting. "So, talk."
She settled into the blue-cushioned armchair across from me and sipped her beer. "You knew your mother. You have your grandmother. Your Haven Harbor roots are deep. Roots that can hold you strong when storms hit. That's what I've longed for all my life. Roots."
I let her talk.
"I've heard you, and others here in Maine, talk about your families in terms of generations. I grew up knowing almost nothing about anyone related to me, at least on my father's side."
"You didn't ask him?"
"He didn't know anything about his family. The not knowing haunted him." Sarah took another sip.
"He must have at least known who his parents were," I pointed out. Although, I immediately thought, I didn't know who my father was. I didn't even know if my mother had known who he was. Without thinking, I reached up and touched the gold angel I wore on a chain around my neck. The angel Mama had bought me for my first communion. The last gift she'd given me.
Sarah got up to check the oven. "I told you, it's a long story." She sliced the pizza and put it on a platter on the low table between us.
For a few minutes we ate in silence. Then I took the needlepoint canvas of a great cormorant I'd been working on out of my bag. Might as well stitch as I listened.
She began again. "My father was born in the UK. He thought probably he was from England, not Scotland or Ireland or Wales, because older people teased him and the others about their accents."
"When he was about seven — he didn't know his exact age — he and dozens of other children were put on a ship and sent to Australia."
"'Sent'? By whom?"
Sarah put up her hand. "Just listen. My father didn't live long enough to tell me his story. But he told my mother's mum, and she told me, when I was old enough to understand. All the children were told they were orphans. That there was no place for them in the UK, so they were being sent to a place where they'd be welcome, where it would be warm, where they'd go to school and have loving new families." Sarah paused to put down her beer. "It was a lie from the start. No adults paid attention to them, even on the ship. They took care of themselves. When they arrived in Australia they were divided into groups. My dad went with several other boys to a place in West Australia run by an order of monks. Grandmum said whenever he told that part of the story his voice hardened. There was no school there, and no love. The boys, those who came before him, and his group, and others later, were forced to build a monastery, stone by stone. They were flogged and abused in despicable ways, and never had enough to eat." She paused, staring at the painting. "Some died."
"That's horrible! No one did anything about it?"
Sarah shook her head. "If anyone knew, they didn't interfere. Dad left that place when he was seventeen. But he never really escaped. He did marry my mother, and for a while, I was told, he was happy. But she died — breast cancer, it was — when I was still in nappies. Dad got very depressed, and drank too much — I guess he'd always done that. When I was two he hung himself." Sarah's voice was steady, but her hands were shaking.
I sat, listening in horror. Should I hug Sarah, or scream? "That's awful," I said, knowing words were totally inadequate. "What happened to you?"
"I was lucky," she said. "My mum's mother, my grandmum, took me in and raised me. She's the one taught me needlepoint." She pointed at a framed needlepoint map of Australia hung over her television. "She gave that to me on my eighteenth birthday. Told me I should be proud to be an Aussie. Taught me about her side of my family. They'd left Ireland during the potato famine in the 1840s, and opened a small used clothing and furniture store in Australia. More than a hundred years later, Grandmum was still running the family business, but it had changed over the years. She was an antiques dealer. I grew up learning how to value what our ancestors had treasured in the past, doing my sums in back of the counter, and learning how to be polite to customers."
No wonder Sarah now ran a small antiques business here in Haven Harbor.
"When I was six, in 1987, the whole story broke. Dad had died before then, of course. I grew up knowing at least a little about the scandal."
"Between 1938 and 1970 social welfare people in the UK sent about ten thousand children abroad. The foster system in the UK was overburdened, and the children were sent to former British colonies like Canada and Rhodesia and New Zealand — and Australia. The idea was that those countries could use cheap labor and, some said, wanted to increase their white populations. Some of the children — they called them the child migrants — had been abandoned in Britain. Some had been born out of wedlock. Many had one or even two parents who couldn't care for them temporarily. Some were as young as three; most, like my dad, were between the ages of seven and ten. Still young enough not to remember a lot, or to question that they were orphans. But most of them had living relatives."
"Didn't those relatives ask questions?"
"That's one of the saddest parts. They were told their children had died in foster care."
I put my needlepoint down and took a sip of beer. "That's awful! And no one knew?"
"Not until several child migrants who'd been sent to Australia went back to Britain as adults to try to find out who they were. In 1987 Margaret Humphreys, a social worker in Nottinghamshire, met with them and started putting the pieces together. Her search ended up as an international investigation."
"She was able to prove what happened?"
"She was. I was still a child when it all broke, but Grandmum, bless her, knew it was important. She registered me as the child of one of the migrants. The idea was to try to connect the children, now grown, of course, or their children, with family members who might still be alive in the UK. A trust was set up to help make that happen. A few years ago the British government finally apologized for the program."
"A little late for that," I pointed out. "So what did you do?"
"When I was growing up I knew my dad had been one of the child migrants, but I didn't think much about it, and I didn't want Grandmum to think I didn't appreciate her bringing me up. I was happy, helping her with the store. Then when I was twenty-five Grandmum died."
I shuddered. What would my life be like without Gram? I didn't want to think about it.
"I decided I wanted to know about my father's background. Find out whether I had family in the UK. So I applied to the Family Restoration Fund." She paused. "It took two years before they were able to help me."
"And did they find your family?"
Sarah nodded. "They found Dad's mother. Of course, she was an old woman by that time. Grandmum had left me a little money, and I sold her store and its contents, so I could afford to do whatever I needed to do. The Fund helped me get to England to see my other grandmother."
We'd stopped drinking or eating. I focused on Sarah.
What if I'd been separated from Gram? She'd raised me after Mama disappeared, the way Sarah's grandmum had raised her. But what if there'd been another woman I'd been related to? A woman in another country? Would I have traveled around the world to find her?
Sarah's voice was taut. "Meeting my English grandmother wasn't easy. She was almost ninety, and she'd had a hard life. Her sight and hearing were going. She was living in a home for the destitute elderly. At first she didn't understand who I was. After all, she'd been told her son had died years and years before." Sarah picked up her beer and took several swallows. "She had a picture of him, though. He was with her at a park, on a swing. Dad would have treasured that. He didn't have any pictures of his mother, or of himself as a child." Sarah got up. "Would you like to see it?"
"I'd love to."
Excerpted from Tightening the Threads by Lea Wait. Copyright © 2017 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
I’ve read (devoured) all of the books in this series recently – even as I’m slow to get reviews up for some. There’s something very comforting in the narrative voice of Angie as she works through her own issues in coming back to town and her rather infamous mother’s history, full of the small town feel, particularly that of the Maine coast in a town that is inundated each summer with tourists. Far from being a space that only caters to the summer people, they’ve built and attracted year-round businesses, built friendships and survived to solve several murders. Now, Angie’s best friend Sarah, an ex-pat Aussie that owns a small antique shop in town, and just recently shared some personal bombshells, is in hot water. Especially when her long-hidden ties to her brother, Ted, a wealthy art gallery owner and son of a famous artist turns up dead, his will revealing Sarah will be inheriting it all. Of course we do know that Sarah didn’t poison Ted, but with his adult children all screaming for blood and a rather convenient appearance of this new family member, it’s up to Angie, Sarah and Patrick to ferret out the clues and do some real digging to both prove her family ties and find the real culprit. Lea Wait informs this story with extensive research into foster-child emigration and relocation to Australia from the UK, and we follow Sarah’s search through records in three countries, slowly unveiling her own family history, and we discover more clues to the culprit. Plenty of suspects, drama, intrigue and the new characters and personalities introduced with Ted’s rather eclectic family all play roles where each becomes the focal point for suspicion, with plenty of drama to spare. While the other members of the Mainely Needlepoint collective are relegated to cameo and backseat roles, their inputs add a sense of life proceeding on despite Sarah’s crisis, and serves to highlight that sense of community and insight (not to mention outside points of view and a touch of gossip) that have come to be a staple in this series. With a culprit that I didn’t see coming, as Wait does manage to throw a net-load of red herrings into this one, a sense of rightness in the conclusion and a once closemouthed and mysterious in all the good ways character in Sarah taking center stage and revealing more of her story, it was hard to put down and completely engaging story. While it does work as your first introduction to the series, this is one that is best read from the beginning to see the relationships develop, and they are wonderful reads, perfect for fans of cozies with a twist. 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.
A good series with good background about needlecraft.
This is the fifth installment of the Mainely Needlepoint series. This was Sarah's story and there was not much needlepointing in it. I was fine with that as it was nice to find out more about one of the main characters in this series that i very much enjoy. Sarah is a member of the Mainely Needlepointers and a good friend of Angie's. She moved to Haven Harbor from Australia, but never really shared her reasons for this. In the last book in the series Sarah became close to wealthy gallery owner Ted Lawrence, and in this book she shares with Angie that Ted is her uncle. She tells her about her history and that her father was acclaimed artist Robert Lawrence, Ted's father. Ted wants to have a 75th birthday party with his three children who he bareley talks to or sees, Sarah, Jeremy (his assistant), Patrick and Angie. He plans to reveal who Sarah is and his plans to change his will. Well, things do not go as planned and some of Ted's announcements are a huge surprise. When Ted ends up dead from eating a clam that was poisoned from Red Tide, Angie suspects that he was murdered. For Sarah's sake, and at the request of one of Ted's sons, she begins to investigate. Lea Wait never disappoints and there is usually something historical to learn. This time we learn about the period of history where foster children in Britain were numerous and costly. They were sent to Australia to a new life. Sometimes that life was good, but more than likely, they were treated as free labour. Sarah's father was one of these children. Sarah was able to locate her paternal grandmother, who had been told her son had died. From there she headed to Maine to search for her paternal grandfather and other family members. What she finds is Ted and through him, her cousins. Ted's children are a very interesting group of people. They are partly spoiled, think they are entitled and in some ways, waiting for him to die so they will inherit. They are not very accepting of Sarah and not very nice to her either. They add a lot of intrigue to the story, especially when another dead body shows up. Even though, this was not really a needlepointing story, I really enjoyed it. I liked the character development, the way the relationship with Angie and Patrick continued to develop and the mystery. There were several suspects as well as the possibility that it could have been accidental. If you enjoy a cozy with great characters and a storyline that goes beyond the mystery, pick this book up. You will certainly enjoy it. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
Title: Tightening the Threads - Mainely Needlepoint Mystery Book 5 Author: Lea Wait Publisher: Kensington Books Published: 3-28-2017 Pages: 304 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub-Genre: Amateur Sleuth; Hobbies & Crafts; Cozy Mystery ISBN: 9781496706287 ASIN: B01HWKM6CU Reviewed For NetGalley and Kensington Books Reviewer: DelAnne Rating: 4.75 Stars This is the 5th book in the series, and can with little difficulty be read out of order, but I suggest starting with book one and reading up to book five to get the full back ground of the characters and events mentioned. Angie, now proprietor of her grandmother's shop in Haven Harbor, Maine. Sarah Byrne who has a shop close to Angie's and deals in antiques. In "Tightening the Threads" we learn way Sarah choose to come to Haven Harbor and her connection to the well off Ted Lawrence a connection that has his family in an uproar. When Ted is poisoned, Sarah is the main suspect. Angie and her friends believe it might be someone more concerned with Ted's intentions to leave his paintings worth a king's ransom to Sarah may have motivated one of the family members to act before he could follow thru. As always the quirky cast of characters and picturesque descriptions of the town bring Haven Harbor to life. You can imagine yourself walking down main street and visiting the shops and businesses. Stopping on the pier or tasting the salt in the air. The story flows well and there are plenty of hints and clues to follow. My rating of "Tightening the Threads" is 4.75 out of 5 stars.
Angie Curtis has recently returned to Maine after leaving Arizona. Angie has taken over running a needlepoint business from her grandmother. One of Angie’s friends and fellow “Mainely” needle pointers is Sarah Byrne. Sarah is from Australia and has many secrets that she holds close to her heart. Sarah does share with Angie that she wants to belong in a family. When it’s revealed that she has a family amongst the Lawrence’s, it is not met with open arms. Ted Lawrence is the head of the family and it is revealed that he is quite ill and because of that, he wants to change his will to include Sarah. Ted is then poisoned during a “family” outing and dies. Sarah’s new family blames her, so Angie must help her friend. A delightful and entertaining series to which I hope there will be many more installments! I voluntarily read an Advance Readers Copy from NetGalley and Henery Press.
I enjoyed all of the series 1-5.
TIGHTENING THE THREADS by Lea Wait is the latest installment in her ‘A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery’ series. Ms. Wait is the Maine author of several cozy mystery series and excellent historical fiction titles for young adults. In this particular series, the characters are well-developed and sync well with the plot points. Angie Curtis returned home to Haven Harbor, Maine (after a stint in Arizona) and was immediately embroiled in solving the mystery of her mother’s death many years previously. Angie also took over the management of a local needlepoint business from her grandmother. Angie’s grandmother is a continuing character, as is friend and antiques dealer Sarah Byrne. TIGHTENING THE THREADS reveals the reason Sarah chose to move to Haven Harbor from Australia. Many secrets are also revealed about the wealthy and artistic Lawrence family. There is a strong ‘sense of place’ with many remarks about Maine and local customs. The plot is fairly lightweight, but moves steadily and involves all the characters. There is just the right amount of tension. I quite enjoy the cover with its bright colors, the clever titles (TWISTED THREADS, THREADS OF EVIDENCE, THREAD AND GONE, DANGLING BY A THREAD, TIGHTENING THE THREADS), the recipes and the chapter headings which refer to works of 1800’s embroidery and needlework. The chapter headings are my favorite part of the book, although Sarah Byrne’s Maple Cheesecake recipe is ‘to die for’!
Angie's best friend, Sarah Byrne has finally found her family. Unfortunately, not all of them are happy to meet her. They are even less happy once they are told that the large inheritance they were expecting would now be divvied up differently to include Sarah. Too bad the will is not changed before an untimely death that could be natural or not. Now, Sarah's new family has a lot to explain to the police and everyone wants to point the finger at the newest family member. This story moves fast. I enjoyed every minute of it!
Dollycas’s Thoughts This fifth installment of the series brings us the story of Angie’s friend Sarah. Sarah is an Aussie that moved to Haven Harbor. She has her antiques business and works with the Mainely Needlepointers but has remained pretty well stitched up about her past and her family. She has grown close to Ted Lawrence, a wealthy man, who runs an art gallery. His father was a famous artist. Ted’s is an artist too but never reached the acclaim of his father. She finally reveals to Angie that she and Ted are related and explains the history is complicated. Ted wants to celebrate his birthday with his children that he rarely sees and introduce them to their Sarah. Things do not go as planned when Ted dies during a family lobster bake. The entire family makes up the suspect list with most the family’s fingers pointing at Sarah. She, Angie, and their friend Patrick start tightening the clues together and following the threads to catch the real killer…but can they find the truth in time… Lea Wait never disappoints and this time she draws in a piece of history I knew absolutely nothing about. There was a time when number of foster children in Britain was more than the system could handle and children were sent to Australia. Sarah’s search for her family takes her from Australia to Britain and then on to Maine. That doesn’t quite bring all the family dynamics to light but as the story continues and the mystery plays out more secrets are revealed. The author explains this child migration and the aftermath in such interesting detail all while not taking away from the coziness of the mystery. I love learning something new when reading just for fun. The new characters she created, Ted’s children, are an eclectic group. His daughter and her husband live in the northern part of the state and have an organic farm. One son has a high pressure job in New York and the other is a frustrated poet and perpetual student. The family hasn’t gotten together for years. There was already plenty of family drama even before their father’s murder. Ted also has an assistant that has helped him in the gallery for years. Together they all bring their own excitement to the story. As this is Sarah’s story the other Mainely Needlepointers are absent or just have cameo appearances. I was fine with this as Sarah and Ted’s story is a pretty powerful one that I really enjoyed. This is another solid addition to this series. It flows well, has several twists, diverse characters, and kept me guessing from start to finish.
Angie Curtis is helping her friend, Sarah Byrne, set up a birthday party for Ted Lawrence, a wealthy old gallery owner and artist. After Ted Lawrence’s estranged family arrives, he announces that Sarah is a long lost relative. Ted also states that he is dying of cancer and is changing his will and leaving the bulk of his estate to Sarah. The next day, at a lobster bake, Ted is poisoned to death. Now, Angie is investigating to find out who killed Ted Lawrence. This was a great addition to this wonderful series. I always thought there was more to Sarah’s character, and you learn a lot about her in this story. I liked how the author showcased different families and how children are affected more by the lack of love than the lack of money. This well-plotted cozy mystery’s ending was a surprise and made me look forward to the next installment. An Advanced Reading Copy was received in exchange for an honest review.
Tightening the Threads by Lea Wait is the fifth book in A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series. Angie Curtis is surprised when her friend and antiques dealer, Sarah Byrne tells her why she has been spending so much time with gallery owner, Ted Lawrence. It turns out that Ted is her uncle. Sarah has finally found family and this weekend Ted is going to tell his children about Sarah. They are all coming to town for Ted’s seventy-fifth birthday. Sarah asks Angie to come along for the weekend at Ted’s home The Point. Jeremy, Ted’s longtime gallery employee and Patrick West will also be in attendance. After Ted’s children arrive, they enjoy a special dinner and then birthday cake along with champagne. Ted then announces that the kids (they are all adults) have a new cousin and introduces Sarah. But, Ted is not finished with his pronouncements. He tells them that he has stage four lung cancer, and he will be altering his will to include Sarah. He wishes for her to receive the Robert Lawrence (Sarah’s grandfather) paintings. The children are outraged and Jeremy is less than pleased. The next day they prepare for a lobster and clam bake on the beach. Everyone is enjoying the delicious seafood dinner when Ted suddenly stands up. He cannot speak and points at his throat. Ted is quickly rushed to the hospital where, unfortunately, he passes away an hour later. Someone in the family objected to Ted changing his will, and they were making sure he would not be able to accomplish his goal. Luke Lawrence hires Angie to investigate Ted’s death. He wants the case wrapped up as quickly as possible (so everyone can return home). The next day Angie receives word that there has been another death. Is foul play involved? Angie needs to work quickly before Haven Harbor gets a bad reputation (or someone does away with the rest of Ted’s ungrateful children). Tightening the Threads is easy to read, has good characters, and a beautiful setting. The author provides some lovely descriptions of the town and surrounding area. I thought the book had a good pace. I did not find any slow spots. The mystery did not start until I was forty percent of the way through the book. The first part of the book sets up the story and the last part is in solving it. I give Tightening the Threads 4 out of 5 stars. The mystery was intriguing. I like how the author crafted it and the unique method of murder. I thought that part of it was easy to solve, but the other element was a little more challenging (I am trying not to give anything away). I do wish that there had been a good outcome for Sarah. I am a little disappointed with Angie and her jealousy concerning Patrick West. Patrick and Angie’s relationship is in the early stages and her jealousy seems unwarranted. Patrick does not seem the type of person to kiss and cheat. The author included a secondary mystery regarding bones in a wall dividing Angie’s property from her neighbors. It really seemed like a senseless inclusion (it was a letdown). Then there was the issue of Ted’s wife, Lily. The way it was written in the book, I thought Lily’s death would turn out to be a long unsolved murder (I expected it to go somewhere). Her death was mentioned a couple of times, and I kept thinking the author would tie it in somehow (a lover did her in, a jealous friend, someone spiked her drink). Overall, though, I enjoyed Tightening the Threads. It captured and held my interest.
Tightening The Threads is the fifth book in the A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series. This series is one of my favorite series. Ms. Wait does a wonderful job of describing the town of Haven Harbor and the surrounding area and adding some of its interesting residents. Angie Curtis has been friends with Sarah Byrne since she returned to Haven Harbor bur know almost nothing about her except she is from Australia and runs an antique store. So when Sarah invites Angie over for a “girls night”, Angie feels that Sarah will put to rest some the rumors going around town that Sarah is romantically involved with local artist and gallery owner, Ted Lawrence. Those rumors are reinforced when she a huge oil painting gracing the wall of Sarah’s apartment. Angie soon learns that the painting is actually a Robert Lawrence, Ted’s father, original and possibly worth a million dollars or more. Finally, Angie is able to learn that Ted Lawrence is actually Ted’s niece and no one knew of the other son of Robert’s. Ted is planning a 75th birthday party with his three children, Abbie and her husband, Silas, Luke and Michael. The Lawrence family is far from a loving and caring family and the children wonder what the big announcement is that their father has promised to make. After everyone had their fill of the delicious lobster bake and dessert is being eaten, Ted. makes his announcement that Sarah is his niece and he will be rewriting his will. His plan is to leave his father’s paintings. a large part of his estate, to Sarah and much to the disgust of children and Jeremy. As everyone is beginning to pack up the leftovers from the bake, Ted becomes very ill and is rushed to the hospital where he is soon declared dead. When it is learned that he died Red Tide, Angie begins to speculate on who might have wanted to see the will not change the most. Angie soon finds out that all the children need the monies that they would inherit, some more than others. Jeremy, who has been managing Ted’s art gallery for a number of years had hope that the business would be left to him seems to be on the short end if he ends without the painting to sell and draw in customers. Another wonderfully descriptive story situated in coastal Maine. I really enjoy this series by Lea Wait as she skillfully weaves in a vivid description of locale, it’s thoughtful residents into an exciting mystery. One can almost hear the waves crashing and get the feel of the sea mist. Will definitely be watching for Thread The Halls, the next book in this engaging series.
Tightening the Threads by Lea Wait is the latest addition to her Mainely Needlepoint series and was an enjoyable read. I enjoy visiting Haven Harbor, Maine in each book as this is definitely a small town that I would love to visit, especially during "leaf peeping" season. I'm beginning to like the main character, Angie, more as she has settled back into her home town. In this book we get to know a lot more about Sarah Byrne, an antiques dealer and best friend of Angie's. Many of the secondary characters in this book were new to this storyline but added to the twists of the story. The mystery kept me guessing until the reveal. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley.
The books in this series just keep getting better. Angus Curtis has grown a lot in this quirky series by Lea Wait. In this story, Angie helps out her friend Sarah. She is organizing a family reunion for her friends 75th birthday. When secrets and truths are revealed and a murder takes place, not even the wealthy find themselves able to fight against greed. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.