Protagonist Betsy Devonshire's needlework shop is called Crewel World, which should give you an indication of Ferris' sly humor. Details of several types of fancy needlework comprise parts of this novelvery nice for readers who love to sew, but a bit much for someone with no interest in this domestic art.
When an artisan is murdered at a craft fair and a local youth is charged with the crime, Betsy, who has built a reputation for exonerating the innocent, decides to investigate.
Whether she's illuminating the nature of small towns, sharply drawing a single character or musing on the vagaries of the art world, Ferris does it with clever humorthe standout quality in this deftly plotted mystery. But the author's talent would be better served without various distracting shifts in point of view. (Dec. '03, 272 pp., $6.99)