A lot of people might think I have a very dull life. I’m the chief of police in Archers Rest, a sleepy hamlet on the Hudson River in New York State. I’m a widower with a seven-year-old daughter. I don’t have a lot of hobbies, or late nights out. In fact when I have any free time at all, I’m usually hanging out with a bunch of ladies at Someday Quilts, the quilt shop on Main Street. That might seem odd since I don’t quilt. I can’t even sew on a button. But I’m drawn to the place – and not just because of the cool quilts hanging on every wall. It’s because of the owner’s granddaughter – Nell Fitzgerald. She works there, takes art classes, and for most of the last year, she and I have been dating. And, for even longer than that, she’s been pushing her way on to every investigation that comes across my desk.
She smart and she’s pretty, and she gets in my way sometimes, but even when her interfering gets on my nerves, I have to admit she’s got a keen eye for detail. Maybe it comes from the quilting. All of those tiny features that no one but the maker knows are there. Nell and her grandmother, Eleanor, and all the ladies of their quilt group (because somehow they’ve all managed to become unofficial junior detectives over the last year) can see when a quilt has been made by more than one person, just by the size and length of a stitch.
Somehow that skill has transferred to solving crimes. Nell can spot a clue a mile away. Sometimes it’s a small lie, or maybe an out of place item, sometimes it’s just a gut feeling she gets. But one thing is sure, Nell sees patterns where most people would just see a mess. She tells me it’s because solving a murder is like making a quilt. It benefits from variety. Two heads (or in the case of the quilt group, seven heads) are better than one. And I suppose that’s true.
Outsiders might think that Nell’s “hobby”, as folks around here call it, wouldn’t come into play very much. How many murders, arsons, robberies etc… can a tiny place like Archers Rest have in the course of one year? Well, you’d be surprised. I know I’ve been.
On any given day, I’ll drop my daughter, Allie, off at school and stop by Jitters for a strong cup of coffee and one of her famous muffins. (It’s owned by another quilt group member – they’re everywhere). And just when I settle into my office to read the paper thinking I’ve got a quiet shift ahead of me, Greg, the detective on the force, will holler back about some crazy thing that someone has gotten into, and off I’ll go. Whether I call her or not, Nell somehow manages to find me there, with an idea about what might have happened. Within an hour or so, the other ladies of the group are adding in their own ideas, and before you know it, they’re questioning suspects and searching for evidence.
Sometimes law enforcement in the neighboring towns have a little fun at my expense. But that’s okay. When there’s trouble I have more help than most New York City detectives. And, of course, more quilts. And who can complain about that?
Thanks to Plume, I have one (1) copy of “The Double Wedding Ring” to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends September 24; US entries only per publisher’s request.
You can read more about Jesse in The Double Wedding Ring, the fifth book in the “Someday Quilts” mystery series, published by Plume. The first book in the series is The Lover’s Knot.
Meet the author
Clare O’Donohue is the author of The Someday Quilts and Kate Conway Mysteries. She is also a television producer, specializing in true crime. Her latest novel, The Double Wedding Ring, will be released September 24th.
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.