by Greta McKennan
Daria, a seamstress in little Laurel Springs, Pennsylvania, expanded her business to include historical sewing. As Royally Dead opens, she is at the First Annual Highland Games where she and her friend Letty, who owns an antique shop, are manning their booth to make sales, let people know about their businesses, and support the local community. The reader is introduced to a lot of interesting characters, and Daria and Letty get into more than they bargained for as they witness a manly contestant who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble: flirting with an underage girl, arguing with a famous author, angering one of Daria’s roommates, and continuing a long-standing conflict with another contestant.
Greta McKennan’s Royally Dead is full of sewing, historical mysteries, and Scottish dancing woven throughout a good whodunit. Suspicion falls on four characters, all of whom have both motive and opportunity. So, in this cozy mystery we have four interesting stories playing out as Daria tries to help people and solve the murder. Her friend, Sean McCarthy, a congenial newspaper reporter, is always willing to help and accompanies her on many of her adventures. He affectionately refers to her as the “nosy seamstress.”
There is lots of information about Scottish customs, clothing, and traditions, as well as history surrounding Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Battle of Culloden. Just as interesting, is the information about sewing and some of the difficulties inherent in hand sewing without a pattern. Also I was excited to pay a visit with Daria to the local museum to see a kilt worn in the battle in 1746 and a bridal gown from the 1750’s in an archival room in the basement of the museum.
This cozy mystery provides a good time right up to the end as the spotlight shines on various suspects. There are even some surprises as backgrounds and relationships come to light.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: Royally Dead is #3 in the Stitch in Time Mystery Series. When the first two books in this series were published, I passed on the opportunity to read them as ARC’s. What a mistake! Although I had no problem reading Royally Dead as a standalone, I really liked the characters and would enjoy learning more about them in the previous two books. Author Greta McKennan achieved success in the difficult task of combining interesting characters with a good plot.
Publication: September 11, 2018—Kensington Press (Lyrical Underground)
…the old-fashioned handwriting was very hard to read. I was glad I had persisted in learning cursive writing in the third grade, even though my teacher had made it optional because he didn’t see much use for beautiful penmanship when a computer could do the trick. But my cursive training certainly helped me to read this historical document.
Aileen set down her glass and looked me in the eye. I tried to keep eye contact without flinching. After a couple of hours—or maybe just thirty seconds or so—she picked up her sandwich again.
If small-town life was like living in a fishbowl, living in Laurel Springs was like taking that fishbowl and setting it up on a table in the middle of the most popular restaurant in town on a Friday night.