Last Wednesday Jeanne of the Bookblog of the Bristol Library started something new with her Treadmill Books Review. These are books that she reads while on the treadmill. Such books have to fit her criteria of “…. A book has to be entertaining without being too demanding. If I’d rather walk than read, that is not a good book. On the other hand, if the book is so enjoyable that I end up walking extra steps just so I can read another chapter, then that is a fine book indeed.”
Treadmill Books: Mainely Needlepoint Mystery Series by Lea Wait
Angie Curtis is an independent young woman who never knew who her father was, and whose mother disappeared when she was still a child. She was reared and loved by her grandmother who gave her stability, but there’s still a bit of a void in her life. She left her grandmother and Maine far behind, taking on a variety of odd jobs, including acting as an assistant to a private investigator. Finding herself at loose ends, she’s not sure what her next step should be—and then comes word that her mother has been found.
Or what’s left of her.
Angie had always believed that her mother simply abandoned her, so the revelation that her mother died all those years ago shakes her to her core. She heads back to Maine to face her memories, and maybe to reconnect a bit before she moves on again.
Then she discovers that her mother was murdered.
Naturally, I picked up the large print version of the book based on the cat on the cover. My theory is that if I don’t like the hero/heroine, maybe I’ll like the cat enough to finish. In this case, the cat is mostly false advertising. There is a cat in the early books, Juno, but she belongs to Angie’s grandmother and merits only brief mentions. (Later on, Angie ends up with a cat of her own who is a bit more involved in the story.)
Luckily, this was a book that held my interest even without a cat. The plot allows the reader to get to know Angie very well as she searches her childhood memories for anything that might be, in hindsight, an important clue. This is a good time to note that Wait is very good with characterization. She creates memorable characters instead of stereotypical ones and uses the coastal Maine setting to quite well. I like her use of sensory descriptions, from the gritty feel of the sand to the smell of frying seafood, making Haven Harbor feel tangible. Because Angie has spent time in Arizona, there is ample opportunity for Wait to have Angie re-experience her hometown through all her senses: new and yet familiar. It gives readers a good feel for the place.
There’s a fine blend of character, place, and plot. Over the course of the series, Wait constantly introduces new characters while fleshing out old ones. This makes the books somewhat sequential and yet I don’t think this is a series that has to be read in order as each book is self-contained. (Though I would recommend starting with Twisted Threads for Angie’s background; after that, it’s easier to jump around.) I admire the way Wait handles the possibility that someone may read out of sequence: acknowledging an event obliquely but without so much detail that the older book is spoiled, giving a sense of continuity to those who have read the previous books but not spoiling it for newcomers. It’s a delicate balance and Wait navigates it well.
This is a favorite treadmill series because the books keep me so involved that I don’t mind as much that I am on a trail to nowhere. In fact, I have been known to walk for “just one more chapter,” which is quite the achievement. My Fitbit thanks you, Ms. Wait.
At the moment, I’m all caught up with the series but Thread the Halls is due out in October 2017.
The rest of the books are:
1. Twisted Threads
2. Threads of Evidence
3. Thread and Gone
4. Dangling by a Thread
5. Tightening the Threads