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Authors: Earlene Fowler

Tumbling Blocks

BOOK: Tumbling Blocks
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Table of Contents
Earlene Fowler’s Agatha Award-winning Benni Harper Mysteries
“Fowler’s charm as a storyteller derives from the way she unpredictably sews . . . disparate plots together, just like one of those quilts in Benni’s museum.”

The Washington Post
“Fresh, thought provoking, and honest . . . Engages readers on several levels . . . Dialogue is smart, sharp, and witty. Familiar characters reveal surprising secrets; minor characters are colorful and well defined.”

Ventura County (CA) Star
“Readers will relish the author’s appealing picture of ranch life and small-town affairs, of barbecues and fiestas, of jocular locals and warm family and friends.”
—*Publishers Weekly
“Benni’s warmhearted openness and her deep faith make her an engaging companion, indeed.”—
“Fowler’s plots can be as outrageous as Ellery Queen’s, her turf is Ross Macdonald’s, and her tone is heir to Grafton and Paretsky. It’s quite a combination.”—
Nashville Scene
Berkley Prime Crime Books by Earlene Fowler
The Benni Harper Mysteries
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 2007 by Earlene Fowler.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-1-101-09972-8
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Ruth “Babs” Gibson
Barbara Peters
with my love and gratitude
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4
My gratitude to: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Also my thanks to:
Ellen Geiger, my agent, a most gracious and truly fine human being.
Christine Zika, a gem among editors.
George Long, the wonderful art director who designs and coordinates my incredible covers. You are the best.
Cheryl Griesbach and Stanley Martucci, the artists who have painted all my covers. Your work is always beautiful.
Tina and Tom Davis, my good friends and Webmasters, I will always be indebted to you.
Margrit and David Hall for their help in how to “execute” the perfect murder.
You gotta have friends, and I am blessed with good and faithful ones: Beebs and Millee, Jo Ellen Heil, Nini Hill, Jo-Ann Mapson, Karen Olson, Lela Satterfield, Kathy Vieira, Laura Ross Wingfield.
Always with love to my husband, Allen. It’s been a long and winding road. I’m blessed to be traveling it with you.
A Note from the Author
When I started the Benni Harper series in 1992, the first book,
Fool’s Puzzle
, was written in “real time.” It was 1992 in Benni’s life as well as mine. Time in a long-running series is tricky. Since it often takes a book almost two years from the time the author starts writing it to the point when it is actually in the reader’s hands, time sequences can become confusing. Each author deals with this dilemma in a different way. I decided from the beginning that I would age my characters more slowly than I and my readers were aging. With Dove being seventy-five in the first book, I wanted to keep her active and vital, and I also wanted to explore the early stages of Benni and Gabe’s complex relationship. Keep in mind while reading
Tumbling Blocks
that it takes place in December 1996, one month after
Delectable Mountains.
Tumbling Blocks
Tumbling Blocks is one of the optical illusion quilt patterns that can be traced back as early as the 1850s. It was during this time that domestic textile production was on the rise, and fabric was easier and cheaper for women to buy. Because of this, block-work quilts became popular for many American quilters. The fool-the-eye, three-dimensional effect of the Tumbling Blocks pattern is achieved using light, medium and dark fabrics. Though diamonds are actually utilized to make the design, the image of blocks tumbling in an endless falling motion is the desired outcome. It is a deceptive pattern that changes depending on how you view it. It must be carefully pieced, the corners coming together perfectly, to produce the mesmerizing effect. Blocks were a popular toy for children in the early nineteenth century, so Tumbling Blocks was often used in baby quilts. One of the earliest examples of a silk Tumbling Blocks quilt was made in 1852 by an Alabama slave. Other names for this pattern are Stairsteps, Cubework, Shifting Cubes, Heavenly Stairs, Pandora’s Box and Baby Blocks.
Quilt Histories
BOOK: Tumbling Blocks
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