Last Wool and Testament: A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery
by Molly MacRae
Review by Harriet Klausner
Signet Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451237828
Date: 04 September 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Thirty-nine years old Kath Rutledge drives twenty miles over the speed limit from Richmond to Blue Plum, Tennessee for the funeral of the only person she had left in the world, her beloved octogenarian grandma, Ivy McClellan. She is almost there when Sheriff Deputy Cole Dunbar stops her for speeding. She explains who she is to the law enforcement official. However, he offers no sympathy as he bureaucratically gives her a ticket, boorishly calls her grandma 'Crazy Ivy' and snidely proclaims Ivy's death as convenient.
A textile preservationist Kath inherits her grandma's Weaver's Cat yarn shop and the late woman's small house, but is surprised when granny's employee Nicki Keplinger claims Ivy gave her a special raw silk jacket. Kath knows her grandma would not have done that so she believes Nicki lies.
Meanwhile the TGIF (Thank Goodness It's Fiber) crew keeps meeting at the shop while encouraging their late friend's granddaughter to stay and run the place. Though she has no plans to do so, Kath appreciates their kindness, but receives a shocker when someone else claims ownership of the house. Grieving her loss, Kath moves into a cottage at the Homeplace & Living History Farm while she settles the estate where she learns of a recent poisoning in which Ivy was the only suspect in the homicide. Though she fears the locals will call her crazy Kat, she vows to prove her grandma's innocent when a despondent ghost arrives at her cottage obsessed also with finding the murderer.
Courageous Kath is a terrific protagonist as she struggles with her grief and investigates what is going on re the house and her grandma as the murder suspect; she keeps the plot centered. The eccentric local cast, especially the TGIF needle arts group, brings a regional presence while a desperate spirit enhances the engaging paranormal whodunit. Kath and the TGIF crew paint a picture of Ivy as a person; while others like insensitive dolts such as Dunbar paint a picture of a murdering lunatic. In fact, that compulsive need to clear her grandma's name includes eliminating the derogatory nickname, crazy, motivates Kath to seek the truth.
In spite of Kath breaking the Tennessee land speed record, the storyline starts slow, but once the cast is introduced, accelerates into a delightful and warm mystery. The interplay between the granddaughter and the ghost is lighthearted fun though both take seriously their quest. With a strong twisting finish, the first Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery is a fabulous amateur sleuth as Kath turns to the ghost for detecting mentoring.