Customer Reviews: Hanging by a Thread (Needlecraft Mystery)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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on January 24, 2003
Betsy Devonshire, the "reluctant" sleuth of Excelsior, Minnesota, is called upon once again to use her detecting instincts to aid the police in solving a crime. This time the mystery is a five-year-old murder. The alleged murderer is shunned in town , as the general public believes him guilty, however the police were never able to prove his guilt. He asks Betsy to help him prove his innocence, and , believing him, she takes on the task. Much of the story takes place right in Betsy's needlework shop, so readers of her previous books will be pleased to recognize the familiar characters of the town. References to cross stitch and knitting are sprinkled throughout the book, giving this book extra appeal to needleworkers. The plot of this book is strong, with an unexpected solution. A terrific read for a long winter's afternoon.
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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.
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on February 17, 2003
I enjoyed this installment of Betsy Devonshire's sleuthing escapades. This novel was a more thoughtful story than the previous ones, the clues a little more subtle and the characters interesting. I found Betsy's love interest a little shadowy...not very well defined...and if this is the first book you read in the series, you might find yourself at a loss to connect with many of the people in the book. Betsy, herself, came alive a little better than previously. I am a needleworker, but I think people who aren't, and read these stories, would find her constant references to specific needlework items and people a little disconcerting. It's almost as if the author is trying to throw in her 'knowledge', but in an awkward way.
Even with these criticisms, I did enjoy the story and am looking forward to the next one.
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on January 17, 2003
Betsy Devonshire owns Crewel Jewel, a needlework craft shop located in Excelsior, Minnesota, that is doing quite well. Thanks to the old Minnesota winters, Betsy needs extensive roof work done and she hires general contractor Foster Johns to perform the roofing. All her friends, workers, and customers are appalled and concerned because everyone believes Foster murdered his mistress Angela and her husband Paul.
After the roofing job is completed to Betsy's satisfaction, Foster asks her to find the evidence that will clear his name. He swears he killed neither of them and Betsy intuitively believes him. During her questioning she learns that Paul was an abusive husband and Angela was a battered wife who had an affair with Foster. She also learns that Paul's airtight alibi doesn't hold up which means that he could have killed his wife. Now she has to prove it as well as find the weapon that killed both victims in the hopes that clues will lead to answers.
This is the sixth installment in the popular cozy series and it is every bit as good, if not better, than the first five novels. The heroine has shown tremendous growth as a character and the support cast makes the story line both colorful and humorous. There is no way anyone will guess how the victims died but once presented to the audience it becomes understandable and believable. Instead of knitting on a Minnesota wintry night, this a perfect work to read.
Harriet Klausner
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VINE VOICEon September 3, 2004
Betsy Devonshire now owns the building where her needle craft shop Crewel World is located. Unfortunately, ownership includes having to put a new roof on the building and she hires local contractor Foster Johns.

When Foster comes in to collect his payment, the Monday Bunch of needle crafters stop in their tracks. Didn't Betsy know that Foster was a murderer? That five years ago he had killed his lover Angela Schmitt and then a few days later her husband Paul Schmitt.

Angela was shot in the locked bookstore where she worked. Paul was beaten and shot by the same gun in their home. Foster admitted to having a romance, (they weren't lovers) with Angela but he didn't kill her or Paul. There wasn't enough evidence and Detective Mike Malloy had to let him go and the murders have remained unsolved.

Foster asks Betsy to investigate the crime and clear his name.

Betsy found it hard to investigate as everyone seemed to be certain Foster was guilty. Paul and Angela were such nice people, that there just couldn't have been anyone else who would have wanted to kill them. Angela was such a sweet, shy person. And Paul always had a smile on his face, willing to help everyone.

Betsy's investigation found that people aren't always what they seem to be and the clues led her to a solution that would surprise everyone.


The Monday Bunch telling Ghost Stories on Halloween. This group gets bigger each book and they're all great characters. Always help to Betsy, as they know all the gossip in town.

Every one in the Monday Bunch, especially Godwin melting over Rik Lightfoot, a gorgeous, rich man who does needlecrafts when he comes into Crewel World, making Betsy wonder if Godwin's boyfriend John didn't have a point about him flirting with other guys.

Godwin, still melting until Rik tells him a long, long story about his passion.

The mystery was very interesting. I enjoyed how Betsy had to go back five years and try and get people to remember things that weren't colored with their suspicion that Foster was guilty.

No Lowlights. A very satisfying mystery.
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on July 10, 2003
The latest in this mystery series from Monica Ferris is one of the best. Good suspenseful plot, great atmosphere, and excellent characters (disclaimer - my hubby has taken up reading this series after me, and he HATES Godwin!) I only wish I'd been reading this closer to fall and Halloween - it was a little difficult to get into reading about hauntings and chilly weather when it was 95 degrees outside on the 4th of July. I should have saved it til the season was right. If you enjoy 'cozy mysteries' and/or needlework, you'll like this one.
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on February 10, 2003
While I've enjoyed the previous books in this series, this one seemed slow and lacking in suspense. Perhaps it was because the murders in question take place several years before the present. The non-mystery aspects of the book (Betsy's romance) also seemed flat, and characters from previous books could have used more 'screen time'.
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on October 17, 2015
This is a great series for those of us who love cozy mysteries. Character development is good, there's some humor and its a good read. Like all series start at the beginning and do it in order for the most enjoyment.
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on March 12, 2015
I enjoyed this one so much! Like all of her Betsy Devonshire mysteries, it's hard to put down. I have them all on my kindle and I read them over and over. Exclusion folks seem like many people I know! I have also learned many needlework tips and purchased a needlepoint book Betsy recommended to a customer.
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on April 18, 2012
Betsy, who is obviously new to the small town in Minnesota, owns a needlework shop and quickly finds a new boyfriend who just happens to be the most sensitive, intelligent, handsome man who ever lived. She needs a new roof on her shop and hires a contractor, Foster Johns, to get it done. Unknown to her, he is the town's outcast because most folks think he committed a double murder five years before. He has heard that Betsy is good at proving innocence, so he tries to hire her to find out who really committed the murders to restore him to the town's good graces. She refuses the money because she doesn't have a license, but she agrees to take on the case for free. After much needlework and dining, she recalls a true crime story which sets her on the path of solving the crime. Most of the book is dialogue with little narrative writing, except for brief descriptions of characters and places, which becomes a little tedious. It seems that all the characters have the same voice (exception: the gay clerk), as though the same narrator is speaking through all of them. There are a few instances of profanity which I abhor. The book is actually 263 pages, and has a dozen or so blank pages and large print, so it really isn't so long. It moves quickly and I was curious to learn the solution. It was okay but didn't really entice me to read more from this author. I avoid books that contain profanity.
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