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Authors: Janet Bolin

Seven Threadly Sins

BOOK: Seven Threadly Sins
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Night of the Living Thread

“To say that Janet Bolin is a masterful storyteller is an understatement . . . Alive with charming characters and unputdownable mysteries.”

—Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

“[A] delightful addition to Ms. Bolin’s Threadville mystery series . . . The murder plot was intricate and kept me turning the pages. I loved savoring the blend of humor and suspense until the very last minute.”


Thread and Buried

“This is a great story that I could not put down and I look forward to more crime-solving in the next book in this charmingly appealing series.”

Dru’s Book Musings

“I have loved each and every trip to Threadville. Bolin just keeps getting better and better at keeping us In Stitches. This time she pulls out the stops with a village legend that gives us a mystery tangled in another mystery and then some.”

Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book

Threaded for Trouble

“A wonderful amateur sleuth that showcases the close relationships between the small village shop owners who watch out for one another as friends and as a smart business model . . . The heroine’s actions make for an enjoyable whodunit.”

The Mystery Gazette

“Willow is smart, witty, and charismatic, and the amusing banter between her and her group of friends will keep you in stitches.”

Two Lips Reviews

“Filled with all the elements of a perfect cozy and a perfect escape.”

Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book

Dire Threads

“Newcomer Janet Bolin embroiders a lovely tale of Willow Vanderling, her pooches, and her shop, In Stitches, in charming Elderberry Bay, Pennsylvania.
Dire Threads
will have you saying Tally-Ho and Sally-Forth as you venture back to Threadville again and again.”

—Lorna Barrett,
New York Times
bestselling author of the Booktown Mysteries

“A wonderful debut, embroidered seamlessly with clues, red herrings, and rich detail. And though the mystery will keep you guessing until it’s sewn up, Willow and her friends will leave you in stitches.”

—Avery Aames, national bestselling author of the Cheese Shop Mysteries

“What a great start to a new series. Janet Bolin has stitched together a colorful cast of characters and wound them up in a murder. The cop car alone is worth the read. Lots of fun and machine embroidery, too.”

—Betty Hechtman, national bestselling author of the Crochet Mysteries

“A deftly woven tale embroidered with crafty characters who will leave you in stitches!”

—Krista Davis,
New York Times
bestselling author of the Domestic Diva Mysteries

“Quirky characters, charming town, and appealing sleuth are all beautifully stitched together in this entertaining first mystery.”

—Mary Jane Maffini, national bestselling author of the Charlotte Adams Mysteries

“[A] winner right from the beginning. With a vast cast of personable, likable characters populating a lively, mesmerizing story line, Bolin keeps the action moving along and the humor bubbling as well. This will certainly be a great, fun series to keep your eye out for.”

Fresh Fiction

“With a winning cast of characters, Bolin should be able to stitch together quite a series for Willow and her fellow shopkeepers.”

Library Journal

Dire Threads
has everything a cozy lover wants in a read! A craftily clever mystery, an engaging amateur sleuth who leaves you wanting more, a cast of memorable secondary characters, the dogs, the tips, and of course . . . a really fun read.”

Mystery Maven Canada

“A delightful cast of characters, crisp writing, entertaining dialogue, and a bonus for this quilter, envisions of crafting projects.”

The Cozy Chicks

“A must read for those who love mysteries with a ‘craft’ theme . . . [A] lighthearted mystery full of eccentric women who have a great time turning their hobbies into a livelihood.”

The Merchant of Menace

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Janet Bolin







Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

A Penguin Random House Company


A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2015 by Janet Bolin.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-62378-7


Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / May 2015

Cover illustration by Robin Moline.

Cover design by Annette Fiore Defex.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


To people who warm others with threadly creations and laughter


Welcome to our fifth excursion to Threadville.

Many thanks to my editors, first Faith Black and then Jackie Cantor, who gave me wonderful suggestions and have been my guides. Anonymous copyeditors toil over my manuscripts. Thank you to Annette Fiore Defex for the cover design, and Tiffany Estreicher for the design of the interior text. Danielle Dill at Berkley Prime Crime and Jessica Cooney at Penguin Random House Canada help send books and publicity wherever they need to go. Thank you!

Robin Moline—many people tell me they love the paintings you create for the covers.

Thank you, Berkley Prime Crime, for discovering Robin.

My special thanks to my agent, Jessica Faust of BookEnds, LLC, for coming along on this writing adventure.

I can always turn to friends for support, including Krista Davis; Daryl Wood Gerber, who also writes as Avery Aames; Laurie Cass, who also writes as Laura Alden; Janet Cantrell, who also writes as Kaye George; Marilyn Levinson; Mary Jane Maffini, who is also half of Victoria Abbott; Erika Chase; Vicki Delany, who also writes as Eva Gates; and all of the gang at the Killer Characters blog. Many thanks to all of you.

Sergeant Michael Boothby, Toronto Police (Retired), carefully reads my manuscripts and tells me, “Police officers wouldn’t do that.” Thanks, Mike, for making me rewrite and work harder. But as I’ve said before, my characters have a will of their own, and they don’t always follow Mike’s suggestions.

I also thank Constable Ed Sanchuk and the Norfolk County detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police who taught the Citizen’s Police Academy. What a learning experience!

Many thanks to Joyce of Joyce’s Sewing Shop in Wortley Village, Ontario, for your ongoing support, help, and that wonderful day that we all laughed really, really hard. And thanks for inviting me back so we could laugh some more!

And my special thanks to Kelley Richardson from Joyce’s Sewing Shop for her comments and suggestions about faking crewel work with embroidery machines.

Jackie Green of Green Bee Designs gave me a suggestion (embroidering appliqués in the hoop) that improved the project at the end of the book. Thank you, Jackie!

Also, thank you to Laurann of My Sewing Nook in Caledonia, Ontario, for an afternoon of Threadville-like laughter and friendship.

And thank you to the Oxford Quilters’ Guild in Ingersoll, Ontario, for your warm welcome, laughter, and the delicious potlucks.

Many volunteers put in long hours to plan and organize conferences and conventions where we can learn together. Thanks to the organizers of Malice Domestic, GenreCon Sarnia, and especially to the Bloody Gang at Bloody Words, who put on a wonderful if bittersweet last Bloody Words. We will miss you.

And to my friends, family, and readers . . . thank you all for joining me in Threadville.


Praise for The Threadville Mysteries

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Janet Bolin

Title Page




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Willow’s Machine Embroidered Fashion Figures

Willow’s Tips


ears ago, during the gawkiest of my teen years, well-meaning women gushed, “Willow, you’re so tall, you could be a model!” I knew they meant it as a compliment, but I’d had no interest in becoming a model. And now I was thirty-four, and I still didn’t want to be one.

So why was I stripping down to my undies and about to wear a series of peculiar outfits on a fashion show runway?

It was for a good cause, I reminded myself. The proceeds from the fashion show were going toward a scholarship fund for the Threadville Academy of Design and Modeling, TADAM for short, rhyming with madam. Scholarships at the school, which had opened only weeks before after amazingly speedy renovations during the summer, would mean that additional fashion design and modeling students would live in and visit Elderberry Bay, also known as Threadville. Our textile arts shops were thriving, but more customers were always welcome.

Besides, Ashley, the part-time assistant in my embroidery boutique, In Stitches, was a senior in high school. She wanted
to learn fashion design here in Threadville where she could continue to live at home and work in my shop. Ashley’s talent should guarantee her a TADAM scholarship.

The shiny red polyester curtains surrounding our temporary dressing cubicles did not seem to belong in the luxurious conservatory where we were holding the fashion show, but at least we had some privacy.

Or did we?

A resounding
came from the cubicle next to mine.

A man chuckled low in his throat. “If you think you’re going to be a model, you can’t be prudish about letting other people adjust your clothing.”

Curtains rustled. Shoes thwacked against the wood floor as someone strode away from the next cubicle.

I peeked out, but the man had disappeared. He must have walked down the narrow corridor between red-curtained cubicles and, from there, out onto the stage.

The conservatory, a Victorian glass confection, was warm and humid, and smelled of damp earth and rich, green vegetation. High above, panes of glass glowed orange, tinted by one of mid-September’s spectacular sunsets.

To my right, in the direction the man had gone, a woman yelled, “Places, everyone!” She sounded angry.

It was going to be a long night.

And this was only the dress rehearsal.

I pulled on slinky purple cropped pants and a matching peplum top that I’d made and trimmed with gold machine embroidery. I felt like a misplaced toreador in the outfit, which was gaudier than the clothes I usually designed and created for myself. Maybe, before I’d agreed to sew and model four outfits, I should have asked to see the sketches that Antonio, TADAM’s director, had said he’d provide. By the time I saw the sketches, I’d already committed myself and couldn’t back out.

A good cause, I reminded myself. The outlandish garments were to be auctioned off for the scholarship fund.

I slid my feet into fuchsia and gold sandals that Feet Accomplished, Threadville’s shoe store, had lent to the
fashion show. Bravely, I joined the lineup of models in the walkway between cubicles.

And there was Madam TADAM herself, Antonio’s wife, Paula, who was also the academy’s administrative assistant. She was wearing a sagging straw-colored dress, wielding a clipboard, and glaring at the person immediately behind me.

I turned around. One of the modeling students, a tall blonde, appeared to be having difficulty walking in her flip-flops. Her face was red and her mouth was pinched. Was she the aspiring model who had slapped the man? Maybe she was merely grumpy about the flip-flops or the rest of her outfit. If I hadn’t been told that the clothes in the fashion show had been designed at TADAM, I’d have guessed that her skimpy shorts and halter top had been bought off the rack, and not in an exclusive boutique, either.

TADAM had begun classes less than a month ago, and none of the students could have had much time to prepare, which probably explained why most of the clothes on the student models didn’t seem very imaginative, especially compared to the outfits that my Threadville friends and I had made.

However, we were only in the Weekend Wear segment of the show. By the time we worked our way up to Glitzy Garb, the TADAM students’ work would probably shine.

Music played and the line began moving as models started down the runway.

Antonio’s voice boomed through the sound system. He used the words “lovely” and “beautiful” over and over again.

We shuffled forward.

The blonde behind me, who didn’t look old enough to vote, but was my height, about six feet, even in her flip-flops, whispered to me, “Stand still, and I’ll get your hair out of your zipper.”

My hair was shoulder length, light brown, and naturally straight. It was also flighty, and I’d managed to zip some of it into the back of my top.

The girl worked quickly, and I could turn my head
without ripping out a hank of my hair. She no longer looked grouchy. Her smile was friendly, and her face had returned to pale pink with no splotches.

I whispered my thanks.

Paula clapped her hand on her clipboard and shushed us.

At the front of the line ahead of me, my best friend, Haylee, the owner of Threadville’s huge fabric store, disappeared onto the stage. Over the music, Antonio announced that the “lovely Haylee” had tailored her linen and silk golf shorts and shirt. A strange crunching noise—static?—interrupted his spiel.

A student went out between the blue velvet stage curtains, and then Haylee returned. As she passed, she gave me a high five along with a waggle of eyebrows showing that she was amused and maybe annoyed as well. She rushed off to change into her next outfit.

The girl in front of me wiggled out onto the runway, was described as “lovely” and wearing a “beautiful” outfit, and then it was my turn.

BOOK: Seven Threadly Sins
5.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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