Barbara Sullivan,
Unraveling Ada
(QuiltMyst, 2009)

Retired librarian Rachel Lyons has begun a new chapter in her life. Along with her retired Marine husband, Matt, she has started a private investigating business and relocated to California. When Rachel stumbles across a dead body, it is assumed by most that he is just another victim of the forest fires that recently tore through the county. But Rachel isn't so sure.

Rachel is a hand quilter and has wanted to find a group of women to sew with. Because she hasn't made any formal attempts at finding a quilting bee, and really hasn't expressed an interest publicly, she is a little concerned when she receives a phone call inviting her to join one. After a little research on the Internet about the bee -- which members call the Quilted Secrets -- Rachel decides to join them. What she finds is a group of women, of various ages and interests, full of secrets and bonds that Rachel only gets a brief glimpse of before she is asked to look into the death of their quilting friend, Ada. She is handed Ada's last quilt and a genealogy of the Stowall family to begin her investigation.

Unraveling Ada is a complex and intriguing read that had me fighting myself so I wouldn't skip to the end and spoil the outcome. Every discovery Rachel makes seems to add a dozen more questions to life of Ada and the lives of the Stowall family. Each discovery is met with either hostility or help from the other members of the Quilted Secrets, making the reader all the more interested into the why's of the story.

I am not a quilter so I thought I might get bored or lost whenever the subject entered into the story, but instead I found the opposite to be true. The author does a fantastic job of informing readers and at the same time keeping them entertained. It's not a ton of quilting jargon thrown at laymen, just enough to entice, enlighten and enhance the mystery. Quilting was a big part of Ada's life and her last legacy before dying; it's an essential element to the story. The lives of the women, the Stowall family, the tragedies of the past and present are all tied together in this wonderfully written tale. I really loved it.

I still have a few more questions after closing this book, but hope the next book will come with some answers for me. The characters in this story leave an impression and I look forward to unraveling the next mystery with them.

review by
Cherise Everhard

27 March 2010

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