Top critical review
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a good puzzler...
on February 2, 2003
I'll admit that for the first few chapters "Hanging By a Thread" proved to be a bit of a frustrating read as it did take a while to unwind. But, by about a quarter way into the book, I suddenly found that I was quite firmly absorbed with the goings-on that was unfolding before my eyes, and that I really did begrudge any distractions that kept me from finishing the book.
For the past few years, Foster Johns has been living under a cloud. Everyone in the small town of Excelsior, Minnesota, believes that he murdered his mistress, Angela, and her husband, Paul, in a fit and jealousy and rage (even though the police have never really found any evidence to connect him to the murders). Now, however, he's pinned his hopes of finally being able to establish his innocence on Betsy Devonshire, owner of Crewel World (a needlecraft store owner) and an amateur sleuth. Betsy is intrigued by the mystery and Foster's plight; and because she cannot really see Foster as the cold-blooded murdering type, she agrees to look into the case for him. But Betsy soon finds this case proving to be quite perplexing as she tries to sort out alibis and motives and how these perfect murders were committed...
I rather thought this latest Betsy Devonshire mystery novel to be a rather good one (and at least quite a bit better than the last few). Although, truth to tell, it was more in the nature of a brain teaser than it was a mystery novel -- the clues are strewn all over the place (some even towards the end of the book), so that the challenge is to see if you can solve the mystery before Betsy does. I'll admit I couldn't. I was able to correctly deduce who had committed the murders and why, but not how these murders were accomplished.
"Hanging By A Thread" was a rather fun read. Some bits were unnecessary (like Goodwin's campier than usual behavior -- is it my imagination or is Goodwin becoming a bit of a caricature?); but if you like puzzles and the small town mystery feel, than "Hanging By A Thread" is just the book for you.