Wednesday, January 9, 2019

"Crewel and Unusual"

Molly MacRae spent twenty years in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Upper East Tennessee, where she managed The Book Place, an independent bookstore; may it rest in peace. Before the lure of books hooked her, she was curator of the history museum in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town.

MacRae lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois, where she connects children with books at the public library.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Crewel and Unusual (Haunted Yarn Shop Series #6), and reported the following:
Is page 69 of Crewel and Unusual representative of the rest of the book? Here it is from the first full paragraph to the bottom of the page. We enter the scene as the protagonist realizes Joe and Martha haven’t heard that the shreds of a vandalized and valuable tablecloth are missing from one of the shops in an arts co-op.
Joe and Martha were staring at me.

“You must have loped away before Belinda discovered the scraps were missing,” I said. “Well, that’s the latest wrinkle in all this.”

“We didn’t hear a peep from over there,” Joe said.

“And Belinda rarely just peeps,” said Martha.

“She might be in shock at this point, and who could blame her? Cole thinks the stress got to her, and she doesn’t remember moving them. He and Rogalla are going to knock themselves out being helpful and find them for her. I bet they don’t find them, and I bet even more that this whole thing is an inside job and the unlocked door has nothing to do with it.”

“The unlocked door complicates things, though,” Joe said.

“Belinda leaving her shop tonight complicates them, too,” Martha added.

“Oh, Belinda.” I felt like banging my forehead against the wall. Banging Belinda’s forehead against the wall would have felt better, though only in the short term; in the end I would have felt obliged to join Clod at anger management. “Why did she go and do that?”

“Why shouldn’t she?” Martha asked. “None of us are required to be here, and most of us won’t be keeping regular hours. They aren’t that kind of shops.”

“I know. I’m just whining on behalf of a tablecloth that can’t whine for itself anymore. Where did she go? How long was she gone?”

“She went looking for anyone who would listen to her tale of woe. It’s been like a B-grade drama around here with B-linda b-moaning and b-wailing.” Martha yawned, then, and told Joe she’d see him in the morning. “And I assume you’ll show up at some point, too?” she asked me.

“I wouldn’t miss it. It’ll be great.”

“We’ll hope for the best, anyway, with strong coffee in the morning and whiskey when it’s over.” She covered another yawn and went down the stairs.
Representative? I’ll say yes. On this page we learn about “the latest wrinkle” in the story—the scraps of the ruined tablecloth are missing. We also hear about a planned search for the scraps and doubts about the outcome; a theory that the disappearance is an inside job; the complication of an unlocked door; frustration over Belinda leaving her shop and over her dramatics; a possible need for anger management; and a definite need for strong coffee and whiskey. This book is an amateur sleuth mystery. Wrinkles, doubts, disappearances, theories, locked and unlocked doors, complications, and frustrations are classic elements of the genre. Crewel and Unusual is book six in the Haunted Yarn Shop mystery series. Come for the fibers, needlework, murder, and ghost, and stick around for the coffee and whiskey.
Visit Molly MacRae's website.

--Marshal Zeringue