Book Review: Murder Most Crafty, edited by Maggie Bruce

Murder Most Crafty, edited by Maggie Bruce, was really uneven. Gillian Roberts’ story, “Ellie’s Chair,” left me in tears. I’ll definitely be looking for more be Jan Burke, and I’ve been a Monica Ferris fan for years and years. “The Collage to Kill For” by Susan Wittig Albert was well worth a read, and it was a wise choice as the book’s opening story.

The editor’s own story, “The Gourd, the Bad, and the Ugly,” just didn’t work for me. On the bright side, it wasn’t one that I couldn’t stand to finish, and I intend to look for more of her work, as I did like her main character! And it didn’t feel like an episode of a third-rate 70s detective show, as “Oh, What a Tangled Lanyard We Weave” did. It truly seemed that author Parnell Hall was reaching too far on the crafts connection with that one. Was he the token male author here?

Susan Dunlap certainly “got” me with the surprise ending in “If You Meet the Buddha,” but she didn’t “get” a future reader at all. There was no satisfaction in the story. It was contrived. In fact, she seemed to be trying very hard to be Literary. Not zen, dear.

I didn’t bother finishing Dorothy Cannell’s “No Good Deed.” The stereotypes were painful. I could see where the story was going, and I could see several ways in which the ends-justify-the-means harridans would be likely to get their comeuppance. Continuing to read wouldn’t have done anything for my spirit, so I didn’t.

“How to Make A Killing Online” by Victoria Houston really got under my skin. It’s still creeping me out. I’m recommending that one to Jayne Hitchcock. Maybe WHOA can work out some kind of licensing arrangement to use it for educational purposes. I’ve still got the heebie jeebies!

Judith Kelman’s story, “The M Word,” was well-written. I’ve always loved baskets. I’ve got quite a few of them around the house. I’m just hoping I’ll be able to look at them without thinking about this dreadful story of betrayal, adultery, humiliation, and murder. I really shouldn’t have read this one. I nearly stopped reading it when I started realizing what it was about, and I should definitely have followed my instincts.

Margaret Maron’s “Bewreathed” was okay. Nothing exciting, nothing dreadful. I kept wondering about conflicts of interest.

Sujata Massey’s “The Deepest Blue” is another one that creeped me out. In fact, I don’t really feel like it and Kelman’s stories were mysteries at all. I’d have to classify them as well-written horror. Probably not horror by today’s standards, but horror in the classic sense, definitely.

Hey, look! It’s another guy! You’re off the hook, Parnell. Tim Myers wrote “Waxing Moon” and it was about. Um. Hmmm. That isn’t coming back to me clearly, either. Wait—wax. Yes, wax was important. Now I remember the story. It was, once again, one of those where the craft connection was a serious stretch. The culprit was too obvious, but my biggest objection is that every woman in that piece of dreck was a worthless waste of carbon.

The victim in Sharan Newman’s “Light Her Way Home” was apparent as soon as she was introduced. I was immediately upset, for her, with her, and at our entire race for that part of our history. Not rational, but it was one of those very emotional days. Anyway, it’s a decent story, and it put me in mind of Kathy Lynn Emerson’s Susanna, Lady Appleton series.

The good stories are worth your time, and it’s very likely that you’ll have different favorites than I did. Don’t count on the craft projects to justify buying the book, though. They’re nothing like the patterns in Monica Ferris’ books. If you’ve ever flipped desperately through magazines and library books looking for something to keep a scout troop or Vacation Bible School class busy for a few hours, you’ve seen the kinds of things they’ve included here.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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