BARBARA GRAHAM is a talented quilter as well as a cozy mystery writer.The fifth book, Murder by Sunlight in her Quilted Mystery series is delightful – rather a strange way to describe a murder mystery, I suppose. Tony Abernathy is the Sheriff of the tiny (made up) Park county on the border of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. His wife, Theo, owns a quilt shop, also known as gossip (information) central. The small town of Silersville (the only area with a population large enough to merit a name) is about to celebrate the Fourth of July. Tony hopes it will be quiet, but has his doubts with a quilt show being hung in his mother’s folk-art museum, and an antique car parade.
The book is a good example of a small-town rural police procedural. It is peopled with some very eccentric local characters indeed, including a man who always confesses to crimes he didn’t commit, a woman who delights in shooting road signs, a man with a bear as a pet, a kleptomaniac who steals small items and replaces them with something she stole elsewhere. A number of crimes soon take Tony’s and his small staff’s attention: a violent intruder who attacks with a hammer and wrench, a body found in a tree, and another body found in a greenhouse. Other crimes also need to be sorted out along the way. The mystery almost reads like a day in the life of Sheriff Tony.
For those who like crafty mysteries, Theo’s mystery quilt pattern (included in the book) will add another layer of enjoyment. The quilt pattern has nothing to do with the solution to the crimes. If you do not know what a mystery quilt pattern is (and I certainly did not), it is a pattern followed blindly, not knowing what the finished quilt top is supposed to look like. Graham says the clues are a bit like a treasure map.