Murder Spins a Tale by Veryl Ann Grace, the first in the Flock and Fiber cozy mystery series, was a fast read with some interesting parts but overall I was underwhelmed.
Overall, Murder Spins a Tale is a little slow and clunky. There are too many characters introduced and too much going on to make it cohesive. Some of the dialogue is very stilted and Martha is a little "formal" even with friends.
While Martha is a fairly interesting character who I could empathize with, I found the portrayal of her as a business owner less than compelling. She frequently just walks away from her business in the middle of the day and doesn't seem to put in much time on it. This just isn't realistic. She is loyal and willing to help out her friends whenever they need but there should have been a better balance in the story between her involvement in her friends' lives and running her business.
Murder Spins a Tale does contain a great deal of interesting background on spinning, weaving, knitting, etc. but a lot of it isn't explained very fully so readers might be a touch lost, especially if they're like me and have never done any of these craft hobbies.
Secondary characters and details are incredibly important in making a story work and unfortunately, Murder Spins a Tale falls flat on both. For the first three quarters or more, Martha drives a truck. In fact, she has a little bit of a riff on how everyone drives a truck or SUV in her small town. Then, all of a sudden in the last part of the book, Martha is suddenly driving a van. The switch from a truck to a van is never explained. Additionally, the secondary characters are fairly one dimensional and underdeveloped. The only characters with any decent kind of background and development are the murder victim and the killer.
Frequent readers of Just A Reader will know that I've been reading and ranting about cozy mysteries that have cops who don't do their jobs. It's like authors think that in order to have someone else investigate, the cops have to be portrayed as incompetent. Murder Spins a Tale is yet another cozy in this list. Grace doesn't have the cops do much at all in the way of investigating. They never called New Mexico to find out about the victim's past and they didn't look into Jack's background at all before accusing him.
Lastly, the mystery wasn't as mysterious as I would have liked. The killer's identity was obvious a chapter or more before Martha figures it out.
Denied justice weaves a web of revenge and death in this new cozy mystery. A beautiful winter morning gives no hint of the danger that will engulf Martha Williamson, owner of The Spider's Web - a shop specializing in spinning and weaving. Living with her two Great Pyrenees dogs, Falcor and Denali, on a small farm near Black Hills, Washington, Martha has come to cherish the quiet life she created after the violent death of her husband in a car accident. However, the news spreads fast when Martha discovers a burglary of the town's beauty salon; and her friends fear another robbery. Gossip becomes reality; burglary becomes murder; and Martha's business card is found at the scene. When Falcor discovers the murder weapon and Martha is threatened, she is driven to find the killer. Taking the reader into her world of fiber arts, Martha, with Denali and Falcor at her side, spins her way through a tangle of clues, deception and danger.