First Line: Candy lay in the darkness, eyes open, ears alert.
Sometime member of the St. Rose Quilting Bee group Candy Breckner broke both her legs in a car wreck and is recuperating at the Palo Verde Care Center. When Maggie Browne and the other Bee members find out, they go for a visit and bring a gift-- a lap quilt they made especially for her. Candy is in an extremely agitated state, telling her friends that there is an "angel of death" working at the facility, but her worries are easily blamed on the side effects of medication.
When Candy dies suddenly, Maggie and the others start having second thoughts-- especially when police seem to be very interested in Bee member Louise Lombard, a retired nurse who found Candy's body. With interest on the wrong person, it's up to the St. Rose Quilting Bee to piece and stitch all the clues together into a quilt of evidence strong enough to wrap up a killer.
If you like character-driven mysteries featuring women "of a certain age," I recommend Annette Mahon's St. Rose Quilting Bee series. The Bee members are a cross section of women from all walks of life and of all personalities. Maggie Browne gave her north Scottsdale ranch to one of her sons and his family, and now she's enjoying horseback riding, theater, her children and grandchildren, and doing volunteer work through her quilting group. Maggie tends to be the most level-headed and inquisitive of the group, which also contains a retired nurse, a woman who compares clues to the mysteries she's read, and the resident curmudgeon (among others). There may not be any physical descriptions of these women in this book, but that's really not necessary. Their voices and behavior distinguish each one quite easily.
Having a killer in a nursing home easing the elderly out of their lives of pain and into the hereafter is an excellent plot device and really kept me guessing, and Mahon's skill with the Scottsdale, Arizona, setting gives you a real taste of city living in the desert.
You also get a taste for quilting (an art form I've always greatly admired) while reading An Ominous Death. Bee members even get several people-- women and men-- to take a class at the Palo Verde Care Center. I have to admit that my favorite part of the book was listening to all the women as they sat around the quilt frame, stitching together layers of fabric and batting and discussing each new scrap of information. It's like watching an entire group of Miss Marples, only these ladies don't pack knitting needles.
Annette Mahon has created a group of women that Miss Marple herself would be proud to know, and I think you'll enjoy them as much as I do.
An Ominous Death by Annette Mahon
Worldwide © 2007
Mass Market Paperback, 255 pages
Cozy Mystery, #2 St. Rose Quilting Bee mystery
Source: Paperback Swap