Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Cozy, Not Too Crafty Mystery

Recently widowed, Jo McAllister is setting up shop in Abbotsville, Maryland. She hopes Jo's Craft Corner will take her mind off her troubles. But no town is too small for secrets, scandal-- even murder.

It's opening day at Jo's Craft Corner, and Jo is more tightly wired than the wreath on her store's front door. The entertainer she's hired, Cuddles the Clown, won't stop complaining, and Jo's about ready to strangle the grumbler in grease paint. But then, to her horror, she finds someone else has silenced him-- for good. With a dead clown in her storeroom, Jo is the prime suspect. So she sets out to clear her name, only to find that a crafty killer wants to stamp her out of existence...

Includes directions for a craft project and a recipe!

Title: Wreath of Deception
Author: Mary Ellen Hughes
Series: Craft Corner Mystery, Book 1
Start & Finished: 7/22/08- 7/25/08
Published: 2006
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Pages: 372 (Large Print)
Genre: Cozy Mystery- Hobby

A somewhat new author to the cozy mystery genre, Mary Ellen Hughes gradually learned how to write fiction by publishing articles in newspapers and in 2000, her first mystery novel A Resort to Murder was published. She then wrote a sequel and also a short story before she turned her attention to writing a mystery series centered around a craft store publishing the first one in 2006: A Wreath of Deception.

I loved the characters in the story and for that, reason alone I might continue the series but I felt like the heroine was really, really slow about figuring things out. I already had the murderer pegged and even had a suspicion of the why that person killed “Cuddles” light-years before Jo did. I'm not sure if the author did this to draw out the book more or what but it made me feel like she was insulting my intelligence. There also aren't any red herrings and no surprises so it got to be kind of boring and irritating after a while. However, the ending was great but it still didn’t redeem the story for me. I know there are other cozy mysteries that involve craft stores like Laura Child’s scrapbooking series (I’ve only read the first one though so I’d rather get around to finishing those before I try any more of these).

After I had finished this, I honestly thought that it was Ms. Hughes’ debut book and while this is her very first series, it is not her first mystery (it just reads like one). Needless to say, I was very disappointed but the series shows a lot of promise so hopefully it will get better because I enjoyed the camaraderie. Ina Mae, Carrie, Loralee, Charlie, and even the craft store itself were such interesting people and places. I'd also like to know more about Detective Morgan although I was ready to slap him more than a few times during the book! So it had some good parts and some okay parts but I just wasn’t left with the urge to run right out and get the next one any time soon.

The first person I considered as the murderer was Deirdre Patterson because someone who takes great pains with the way they look usually doesn’t want to do crafty things that as Carrie said could ruin their manicure. I mean, she’d already glued her fingers together! Of course, I was just speculating since I had no reason other than this to suspect her. Again, she seemed like she was scoping Jo's home out to hide something in when she asked for a tour. That's just me but it seemed fairly obvious!

Series: Wreath of Deception, String of Lies, & Paper-Thin Alibi

Interview: BookEnds Q&A

Wreath Making:

Picture Explanations
Takes place during Halloween
Sculpture: Jo's husband was an artist who used acetylene torches to make sculptures like this one by Joe Clark. He died during an explosion because of one of the torches- leaving Jo a widow.
Scrapbooking: Jo hosts many crafting classes including a scrapbooking one


  1. I love finding new to me series but I think that I'll hold off on this one for now. I'll be interested in seeing if you like the rest of the books in this series.

  2. I've read a few books that include recipes in them, but I've never seen one with a craft project included. Interesting twist, too bad the plot itself didn't contain any surprises!

    Thanks for your honest review!

  3. Ladytink - I am sending you the hugest hugs right now. You are the Book Goddess! I am out of town visiting my brother, and I (GASP!) forgot my stack of books in the rush to leave my house. I found the most wonderful independent book store, and I asked if they had the first Jaz Parks book, because we don't have it at my library and it's been on my list since you recommended the series to me a long time ago. They had it, and I'm loving it! Great characters, great story, great writing, kick-ass heroine, creepy villains - what a great post-holiday read! Only problem is fighting the temptation to be antisocial and lock myself in a closet with a book light and ignore my relatives. So thank you very much!

  4. Samantha: I love discovering new series too but this was a let down. I might pick up the other two someday just to see if they improve b/c I truly loved the characters!

    Dawn: I just love reading cozy myseries that have that "little something extra" in them. You can usually learn something, get a new recipe, or even pick up a new hobby yourself but the mystery itself has to be good or I'm not going to go back to the series. Thank you, I tried (I also try my hardest not to post any spoilers unless I have to) to weigh out the good with the bad the best I could!

    Darla D: Oh I'm so glad you're enjoying it! I haven't read the latest one (and the next one is coming out soon- yikes!) but I've loved what I have read. I'm out of town as well but I've only been able to read one book so far (and I've been here since the 19th!) :(

  5. Just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger award, I know I may be renominating some people, so don't feel like you have to do it, but I wanted to let you know you're appreciated anyway!

  6. It does sound like a promising start to a series, even if the book itself turned out to be disappointing. I'll be curious to know what you think of the next book in the series when it comes out. Hopefully the writing improves.

  7. I haven't read a cozy mystery in a while, but I don't think I'll be in a big hurry to read this one.

  8. Shaunesay: Thank you! I'll have to go by and check that out then edit my nomination post on my other blog.

    Wendy: I really hope it does because it does have a promising start, it just has a lot of kinks still.

    Bermudaonion: Cozy mysteries are so much fun but I'd feel bad if I advised you to pick up this one since I only liked the characters.

  9. sorry it wasnt so great.
    the last cozy mystery I read that included a knitting pattern at the end of it was not good
    maybe the other ones in this series are better.
    great review as always.



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