Best-selling mystery author Monica Ferris will appear at The Needle and I, 1649 N. Alpine Rd., from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 20.
Ferris writes the Betsy Devonshire Needlework Mysteries, and her appearance is to promote her newest entry, Crewel Yule.
These popular murder mysteries are written in traditional or cozy style. Far from finding these kinds of novels frivolous, Ferris contends they are about a very serious subject: justice. The very frightfulness of the world, she asserts, calls for a novel that takes you to a place where justice happens and all turns out well.
Novels like this are more than a comfort read, she says. Like the Shirley Temple movies during the Depression, people seek a temporary reprieve from grim reality, a place to go that shows the world as good and, in the end, safe. The traditional mystery, with its emphasis on the solution, not the gory details, can fill that need splendidly.
Crewel Yule is the eighth entry in the Betsy Devonshire series, and the first to appear in hardcover. All seven previous novels have gone to multiple printings, and several have appeared high on the Independent Mystery Booksellers best-seller list. One, Cutwork, made it onto the USA Today list of best sellers.
I had no idea a series aimed at needleworkers would find so wide an audience, says Ferris.
More than 300,000 copies of these titles are now in print. The novels, in order of appearance, include Crewel World, Framed in Lace, A Stitch in Time, Unraveled Sleeve, A Murderous Yarn, Hanging by a Thread, Cutwork, and now Crewel Yule.
Ferris is working on Embroidered Truths, which should appear in summer 2005. Each novel features a needlework pattern on the last page.
The series is set predominantly in the small town of Excelsior, Minn., though Crewel Yule takes the protagonist and two friends to the Nashville Needlework Market where shop owners buy the newest in patterns, materials and gadgets for their customers. The Market is interrupted when a shop owner from Milwaukee falls, jumps, or is thrown over a ninth floor railing. A blizzard has isolated the hotel and brought the city to a halt, so Betsy must take a break from the orgy of buying to solve the mystery.
Ferris writes the novels for Berkley/Prime Crime, a division of Penguin Putnam. They feature a middle-aged divorcee who inherits a needlework shop called Crewel World following the death of her sister. In the terminology of needlework, Betsy knits together clues and sews up cases that have local police baffled.
Ferris is actually Mary Monica Pulver of Minneapolis, Minn. Writing as herself and, for a time as half of Margaret Frazer, she had previously published 11 novels and nearly two dozen short stories. More info: The Needle and I at 815-227-1234, or by visiting Monica-Ferris.com.
The Needle and I, located at Edgebrook, has been in business for more than 29 years and is the only shop of its kind in the Winnebago/Boone County area. The shop specializes in all materials needed to create beautiful needlework, including counted cross-stitch, needlepoint, Hardanger, and silk ribbon embroidery. The store offers trunk shows, classes, e-mail updates and other special events including a two-times a year stitching retreat.