Blackwork is the thirteenth offering in the Needlecraft Mystery series, and, appropriately, it is Halloween. Full-time owner of the Crewel World needlework shop and part-time sleuth Betsy Devonshire has unraveled a number of mysteries over the years.
But this time of year, when the goblins and witches are out in full force, people are easily spooked. Leona Cunningham is the owner of a popular microbrewery called The Barleywine, and a practitioner of Wicca, the nature-based religion often mistaken for black magic.
Neither the Halloween Committee nor any of the customers who enjoy drinking her ale care about her beliefs until a local by the name of Ryan McMurphy accuses Leona of being a real witch after a number of accidents happen around their hometown of Excelsior, Minnesota. Leona is troubled by his accusations as they could have an affect on her business, and her role with the Committee headed by Billie Leslie, her co-partner in the brewery.
As the Monday Bunch meet for their weekly get-together at Crewel World to work on their respective projects, the news and views of the small town are thoroughly discussed, including a destructive attack on Leona’s property.
When Ryan is found dead in a locked room without any marks on his body, Leona becomes the main suspect.
Although a little reluctant to become involved, Betsy is soon on the case and the killer is in trouble as a growing number of clues lead Betsy through a series of suspects to the unexpected culprit.
Monica Ferris has constructed another interesting mystery story that will keep most readers guessing to the end. Ferris is the author of several mystery series under various pseudonyms. Many of the characters in Blackwork are familiar to readers of previous books in the series, and the new characters fit right into the rhythm of the town.
So much time during the story is spent on the local political climate that some readers may find themselves speed-reading through certain portions. In addition, those who are not comfortable with reading about the practice of Wicca may not enjoy this book as much as the other books in the series.
As is usual with any theme cozy mystery, there is much talk about the main topic - in this case, crewelwork and its theme, patterns, and stitches. At the end of the book, a crewel pattern of a witch’s hat is included. Directions are provided as well as a website address for further information.
The novel’s theme fits into the Halloween season and could become a popular yearly fall read.