At Crewel World - the needlework shop in Excelsior, Minnesota, run by Betsy Devonshire - an array of beautifully hand-dyed yarns are supplied by Hailey Brent, an avid hand-dyer as well as a customer. But shortly after her most recent delivery of yarn, Hailey is found dead in her home, with a gunshot wound to the head.
Betsy can't imagine who might have killed Hailey, but she is determined to find out. Her investigation takes her into the world of dye stuffs and mordants and the plants that are grown to produce colors for all kinds of textiles. Fascinating stuff, indeed - except when it leads to murder.
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And Then You Dye
Stilted narration spoils an okay story
The mystery itself was okay, but Susan Boyce presented almost all the characters as prissy and stilted. It was as if she was reading to a kindergarten class.
I added "And Then You Dye" to my library when Audible offered it on a reduced price--and I had a $10 coupon. Why not try a mystery series I hadn't known about? If I liked it, I could start at the beginning. I knew going in that starting with # 16 in the Needlecraft Mystery series would mean I'd be getting a lot of shorthand on development of long standing characters, but I was willing to give Monica Ferris the benefit of the doubt
The story was reasonably well plotted and included a couple of digressions to flesh out secondary relationships such as those of Godwin and Rafael and Jill and Lars Larson--the sort of thing that readers of mystery series want--and miss if they're left out (like the family dinners in Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series).So. Points for keeping up with the major and minor characters.
And points also for incorporating a *lot* of information about handicraft dying into the plot without overloading her readers with too much detail. She uses a standard device--bring in an expert to explain the essential points about natural dyes but punctuate her delivery with additional conversation. Further, after setting us up to expect a murder based on poisonous dyes and mordants (see I paid attention), she switches to a plain old death by gunshot. But the dye-ing demonstrations are not irrelevant, as the conclusion makes clear.
However, if Susan Boyce represents the way Ferris wants her characters to sound, then I won't be going back to the beginning of the series. ]Boyce. articulates. every. single. word. and. every. sentence. on. a. falling. tone. no. matter. how. complex. it. may. be. And, although Boyce does modulate her voice in an attempt to distinguish the characters, the result is that she sounds like a sheltered first grade teacher reading to a Sunday school class. I will not be listening to any other books she narrates.Just a note: The only way I could get paragraph breaks was to type my comments into the separate boxes. As you can see, the headers don't fit the comments.
- P. Buchanan