Loom and Doom: A Weaving Mystery

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9780451474889: Loom and Doom: A Weaving Mystery

From the national bestselling author of Weave of Absence comes a mystery set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where weaving studio owner Della Wright finds herself tangled up in murder....
 
Della and her friend Jenny are remodeling Dream Weaver, turning their shared business space into two separate shops. But after the work is completed, building inspector Howard Swanson refuses to grant Jenny the permit to reopen her coffee shop. Determined to get to the bottom of the hold-up, Della heads to Howard’s office to defend Jenny’s livelihood, only to find the inspector dead—and the police spinning a yarn about Della being responsible.
 
Although Della’s boyfriend, Matthew, an ex-FBI criminologist, claims there’s no need to worry, Della is convinced that the cops have it in for her. Now she must nab the real killer before she’s shuttled off to jail....
 
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About the Author:

Carol Ann Martin is the national bestselling author of the Weaving Mysteries, including Looming Murder, Tapestry of Lies, and Weave of Absence.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

Today was the day. After two months of remodeling, Dream Weaver, my craft shop, would finally be getting a fresh coat of paint—the finishing touch in a long series of steps before reopening. The work had taken twice as long and almost three times as much money as I’d been promised. I’d have to sell a lot of place mats and dish towels to recover my costs.

I flew through my morning routine and ran down the stairs, two at a time, from my apartment to my store. I knocked on the door of Coffee, Tea and Destiny—the shop right next to mine—and signaled to my good friend Jenny that I’d be right back, and hurried on to the newspaper dispenser two blocks away. Minutes later, I tapped on her window again and waved her over. Then I walked into my shop.

Soon, the door swung open, throwing the bell above the door into a tizzy. Jenny walked in. “Rather late coming in to work this morning, aren’t we? I take it you decided to laze around in bed for a while?” Jenny said with a twinkle in her eyes. “Were you alone? Or, perchance, did you have company?”

I felt the heat rise to my face. I tried to hide my embarrassment by glancing at my watch. “If what you’re asking is whether Matthew spent the night, the answer is no. He was in New York yesterday for a meeting with his publisher.”

Matthew and I were still a relatively new item, and thrilled as I was that he seemed to be as smitten with me as I was with him, I didn’t feel comfortable discussing the romantic details of our relationship, not even with my closest friend.

“He should be landing in Charlotte right about now, but he won’t be home for at least another hour and a half.” Eager to change the subject, I looked around.

I was standing in the middle of what used to be my weaving shop. At the moment it looked more like a war zone than a high-end craft boutique. My lovely pendant school lights had been taken down and were now hidden behind the counter for safekeeping. The gorgeous old wide-plank wood floors were covered with brown construction paper. My beautiful lead glass windows were lined with newsprint, and every one of my handwoven pieces was gone—stored upstairs in my apartment. The only things still in the store were a few of my larger display cases, empty and wrapped in plastic. But what really made the place look like hell was the layer of plaster dust that covered everything. It was so thick it looked almost like snow, except that this powder had a life of its own. Every step I took sent another cloud in the air. But none of that mattered anymore, because, today was the day.

“Isn’t this exciting?” I said. “The painters should be here any minute. Why don’t we start cleaning up for them? We can save some time.”

“I think maybe we should wait.”

There was something in her voice that made me suspicious. “Uh-oh. I don’t like that tone. What’s up?”

“I don’t know any more than you, but Syd called a few minutes ago, saying he had something to talk to us about.”

This did not sound good. Syd, our contractor, had originally told us the work would take no more than a month—at the most. But, like clockwork, every week he’d come up with another story as to why the work would take even longer.

I groaned. “I don’t know about you, but I could use a cup of coffee.”

“I just made a fresh pot. Come on over,” she said, heading back to her shop. She paused in the doorway. “I still can’t believe I have my very own shop.”

“You’ve already had your own shop for a year.”

“Yes, but it feels different now.”

A couple of months ago Jenny and I had the bright idea of remodeling our shops, so that our businesses would be side by side rather than both sharing the same space. Until then, we had shared, with hers in the back of mine. We discussed it at length and decided that logistically, the project should not be too complicated. All we wanted was to divide the floor space by building a wall running from the front to the back, and then creating a separate entrance for Jenny’s side. That way we would each have our own display window. But more important, our clients would be able to enter directly into each shop, and would no longer have to cut through my boutique to get to her café.

The only disadvantage was that I’d lose the occasional extra sale I’d make when one of her clients bought an item while on their way into the coffee shop. This had seemed like a small price in return for all the advantages we’d both gain. Besides, there was one more benefit. With Jenny having her own entrance, I would no longer have to open at the same time she did. (Eight o’clock. Whoever heard of starting work at such an uncivilized hour?) I’d open at ten, like the other shops in town, and enjoy two extra hours of sleep every morning. Heaven.

So, after analyzing the pros and cons, we had done what any wise businesswomen would. We’d gone for it.

We interviewed contractors, requested a slew of quotes and hired Shuttleworth Construction, which had given us the cheapest price. I should have known that selecting a contractor based on the amount he charged was not the smartest way to do it. But what else could a struggling entrepreneur do?

Now, I just knew that Syd was about to drop another bomb on us. Good grief. My good mood of a moment ago was slipping fast.

I locked my shop and followed my friend to hers, stepped in and looked around.

“I hate to say this, but your place doesn’t look much better than mine.”

“What do you expect? We’re renovating,” she said, handing me a fresh cup of java. “You can’t have the improvements without dealing with a mess first.”

“It still doesn’t make it any more pleasant.”

“Just think how beautiful everything will be once it’s all finished.”

I was just taking my first swallow of coffee when the door opened and Syd ambled in, wearing his work overalls over a light blue T-shirt and looking ill at ease.

“What fresh hell are you visiting on us this morning, Syd? Every time I think you’re done, you come up with, ‘just one more thing,’” I said, making air quotes.

“I don’t blame you for being upset,” he said, avoiding my eyes. “But don’t worry. It’s just a small setback—no biggie.” Maybe not for him. “Once everything is all completed, you’ll see it was worth it. Right now, the mess makes it look way worse than it is. Once all the dust and debris is gone, this place will look great.”

“It’s not the mess,” I said. “It’s the business we’re losing.” I crossed my arms. “So I’m right? You’re telling us there’s something else that needs doing?” He looked down. “What is it this time?” I asked, trying hard not to lose my cool.

“There was a problem with the occupancy permit,” he said, and raised his hands in a pacifying gesture. “I know this comes as a disappointment to you, but I’ll have the problem fixed in no time.”

“You can’t be serious,” Jenny said. “No occupancy permit?”

He shuffled from one foot to the other. If he’d been holding a cap in his hands he would have been twisting it. “It’s not all that bad.”

I swallowed hard. I just knew we were about to get another convoluted excuse. “Give it to me straight.”

“The good news is that your side is ready to go, Della. All I have to do is stop by city hall and get the permit signed,” he said, looking at me. “The inspector stopped by at seven o’clock this morning and approved it, but couldn’t find the paperwork. I can get you his John Hancock by the end of the day. But that shouldn’t be a problem ’cause you still have to get the place painted. So, no rush, right?”

My scowl melted. And then, suspecting what the bad news might be, I frowned. “What about Jenny’s store?”

He dropped his gaze to the floor. “Well, that’s where the problem lies. But, honestly, it’s not my fault. I did everything according to code—or, rather, according to the old code.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, I just found out that there’s been a change in the code. I’ll have to move the electrical panel to somewhere in full view. Turns out they don’t allow them inside closets anymore.”

“You have to relocate the electrical panel?” Jenny said. “Isn’t that a huge job?” I knew that tone. Any second now, she would be having a meltdown. “But Mr. Swanson approved our plans two months ago, and everything was done accordingly. He can’t do that, just change the code and enforce it on a project that he already okayed, can he?” Her eyes swung from Sydney to me, as though looking for my support.

Howard Swanson was the building inspector. I had glimpsed the man only once—thin face, darting beady eyes and a tight mouth. He reminded me of a rodent. I wasn’t in the habit of taking an instant dislike to people, but for him I’d made an exception.

Sydney shrugged, looking miserable. “I’m afraid he can. He’s got the power to do pretty much whatever he wants.”

“Why is he doing this? Is he trying to make me go bankrupt?” Jenny’s voice cracked. I moved closer and patted her back.

“Don’t worry. I’m sure I can get it done real fast,” Sydney continued. He looked nearly—but not quite—as miserable as Jenny. I wasn’t at all certain it was sincere.

“If I don’t reopen soon, I’ll never get my clients back from Good Morning Sunshine,” she said, her voice tight with controlled emotions. “For all I know, it might already be too late.”

“Your clients love you,” I said. “They’re just waiting for you to reopen. As soon as you do, you’ll see, they’ll be flocking in again.”

“I sure hope you’re right,” she said, sounding no less worried. I hoped I was right too.

But Jenny had every right to be concerned. The previous owner of the shop up the street, called The Coffee Break at the time, had closed her business and moved to Charlotte after her husband’s death about a year ago. That had left Jenny’s shop the only game in town. Then, one week after Sydney had started demolishing our space, the other shop had suddenly reopened, renamed Good Morning Sunshine. The timing couldn’t have been worse for Jenny, or better for them.

Over the next few weeks, while Jenny put up a brave front, her old customers kept dropping by to share more disheartening news. The new owners, Jim and Lori Stanton, were newlyweds. They just moved to town to be closer to family. They were lovely and everybody liked them.

I had caught a glimpse of the Stantons a few times over the last few weeks. She was an attractive brunette, still dressing more city than small town, as I had when I’d first moved here. It had taken me nearly two years to adopt a more casual style. Now, slacks and sweaters were the norm rather than the exception. But I’d never been able to give up my four-inch heels, but that was because of my height—five feet nothing. I liked seeing the world from a little higher.

Jim Stanton was a pretty boy. He looked like he spent a lot of time in suntanning booths and gyms—he was golden brown and sported lots of muscle. The story was that they had come to Briar Hollow to visit family, and happened to drive by the shop. They’d taken one look at it and fallen in love with its possibilities.

Within weeks they had moved into the house in back. Then after putting up a new sign, showing a bright yellow sun with rays beaming down on the name, they’d thrown an opening party and announced that Good Morning Sunshine would be offering coffee, tea and light meals, putting itself in direct competition with Coffee, Tea and Destiny. Except for Jenny and her closest friends—namely Marnie and me—it seemed the whole town had gone.

Marnie and I tried to cheer her up. “A lot of restaurants open, but few of them make it. I bet they won’t last six months,” I said.

“They’re city folk,” Marnie had added. “They won’t be able to stand the small-town life. You’ll see. They’ll be gone before you know it.”

Then, as if the universe had conspired to keep Jenny’s hopes down, an old customer had dropped by and announced that the couple had just been to a lawyer and signed the papers. They were no longer renting; they had just purchased the place. The Stantons were here to stay. I thought Jenny would have a heart attack. But all she did was smile and nod. I wasn’t sure how long she could keep up the good front. And, truth be told, I was worried about my own situation too.

I faced Syd, with my hands on my hips. “How much is this going to cost me?” I couldn’t see how I could come up with more money. “I’ve already spent way more than you originally quoted.”

Because the building belonged to me, and Jenny was my tenant, I was responsible for all carpentry, electrical and plumbing costs. She was responsible only for the cosmetic work of her space—namely, her share of the painting.

Sydney dug his hands in his pockets, bobbing his head from side to side. I could almost hear the gears clicking in his mind.

“I feel bad for you guys,” he said. “I know this turned into way bigger a job than we first anticipated. But that’s what happens when we open up old walls. We never know what we’ll find in there. I had no idea when I made my calculations, that all the electrical wires were knob and tube and would have to be replaced.” He paused. “How about this? I’ll charge you only the cost of the materials, and I’ll pay the electrician out of my own pocket.”

“You will?” I said, only slightly mollified. Technically, this latest delay might not be his fault, but as the contractor, he should have been better informed about the city’s construction code. Still, I could live with the arrangement he proposed. But I couldn’t help wondering why he would make such a generous offer.

“That’s very kind of you,” Jenny said. She always saw the good in everyone. “You shouldn’t have to pay.”

“No. I insist. And I don’t want you to feel guilty about taking me up on it,” he added.

I didn’t, but I kept that thought to myself.

“I give my electrician a lot of work,” he told her. “So he’ll give me a good deal.”

“How long will it take?” she asked.

“I swear it’ll get done in record time. I’ll make sure I have a team of electricians here first thing in the morning.”

There was no sense in belaboring the point. So, “I’ll hold you to that,” was all I said.

“Well, I’d best be going if I want to start getting things organized,” he said, picking up his electric saw. “And remember. This is not my fault. It’s Swanson’s, the city inspector.”

“Hold on a second,” I said. “Where are you going? You said you were going to start painting today. You might not be able to do Jenny’s shop, but you can start on mine.”

He gave me an apologetic smile. “Gee. I’d like to, but there’s no point in starting one side before the other. I’d only have to come back again in about a week. I’d rather wait and do both at the same time.” And without waiting for a reply he was gone.

I closed my mouth, which had been left hanging open after his answer. “Can you believe this guy?”

It occurred to me that Jenny had been uncommonly quiet these last few minutes.

“What are you thinking about?” I said, studying her. “If you’re worried about your business, don’t. You know—”

She cut me off. “No, that’s not it. There’s something that man isn’t telling us. Normally his aura is blue, but it changed to muddy gray just now when he mentioned the city inspect...

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Carol Ann Martin
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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2017. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. From the national bestselling author of Weave of Absence comes a mystery set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where weaving studio owner Della Wright finds herself tangled up in murder. Della and her friend Jenny are remodeling Dream Weaver, turning their shared business space into two separate shops. But after the work is completed, building inspector Howard Swanson refuses to grant Jenny the permit to reopen her coffee shop. Determined to get to the bottom of the hold-up, Della heads to Howard s office to defend Jenny s livelihood, only to find the inspector dead--and the police spinning a yarn about Della being responsible. Although Della s boyfriend, Matthew, an ex-FBI criminologist, claims there s no need to worry, Della is convinced that the cops have it in for her. Now she must nab the real killer before she s shuttled off to jail. FEATURES WEAVING TIPS!. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780451474889

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Carol Ann Martin
Editore: Penguin Putnam Inc, United States (2017)
ISBN 10: 0451474880 ISBN 13: 9780451474889
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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2017. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the national bestselling author of Weave of Absence comes a mystery set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where weaving studio owner Della Wright finds herself tangled up in murder. Della and her friend Jenny are remodeling Dream Weaver, turning their shared business space into two separate shops. But after the work is completed, building inspector Howard Swanson refuses to grant Jenny the permit to reopen her coffee shop. Determined to get to the bottom of the hold-up, Della heads to Howard s office to defend Jenny s livelihood, only to find the inspector dead--and the police spinning a yarn about Della being responsible. Although Della s boyfriend, Matthew, an ex-FBI criminologist, claims there s no need to worry, Della is convinced that the cops have it in for her. Now she must nab the real killer before she s shuttled off to jail. FEATURES WEAVING TIPS!. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780451474889

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the national bestselling author of Weave of Absence comes a mystery set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where weaving studio owner Della Wright finds herself tangled up in murder. Della and her friend Jenny are remodeling Dream Weaver, turning their shared business space into two separate shops. But after the work is completed, building inspector Howard Swanson refuses to grant Jenny the permit to reopen her coffee shop. Determined to get to the bottom of the hold-up, Della heads to Howard s office to defend Jenny s livelihood, only to find the inspector dead--and the police spinning a yarn about Della being responsible. Although Della s boyfriend, Matthew, an ex-FBI criminologist, claims there s no need to worry, Della is convinced that the cops have it in for her. Now she must nab the real killer before she s shuttled off to jail. FEATURES WEAVING TIPS!. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780451474889

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