"All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality -- the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape."
--Author Christopher Benson



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

State Fair by Earlene Fowler

Hardcover release May 4, 2010
In this 14th installment of the Benni Harper Mystery series, we find the avid quilter, museum curator, and reluctant sleuth readying herself for the annual San Celina (Calif.) County Mid-State Fair, and that shakes up everyone's normal routine, most of all Benni's.  Add to that a visit from Grandma Dove's sister Garnet, throw in a little murder and mayhem and your sewn right up in another Benni Harper mystery.  

This year at the fair there is a special showing of African American quilts, the main attraction is a reproduction of a story quilt made by historical quilting icon, Harriett Powers.  Before the fair can even open, the quilt is stolen.  While trying to find the quilt Benni learns that there are more than a few people upset that the new fair manager is an African American.  Does this have anything to do with the stolen quilt?  Benni soon finds out after she finds a body and the wild ride begins to find the murderer and the thief.

Earlene Fowler is a true storyteller.  She pieces together a plot, the characters and the setting with excellent precision, tight straight seams and sharp perfect corners.  She also stitches a little history into each of her books, sometimes about the quilt block the book is based on, but sometimes a lot bigger issue.  Racial tensions are widely discussed in this book, and add so much to this story.  The history of the black cloth dolls really interested me.

The unique thing about this series is the time frame. The first book, Fool Puzzle, which I believe was published in 1992, to this last book only encompasses 5 years.  Each book takes up with days or months of where the last one takes off.  State Fair takes place in the summer of 1997, cell phones were just becoming common, the internet non existent, the old television programs referenced were priceless.  It is fun to take the short trip back in time with these stories.

It is never too late the start reading this Agatha Award–winning series, if you are already a fan you will truly enjoy this long awaited edition. It is truly a ribbon winner.  I hope we will not have to wait so long for the next one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Berkley Publishing Group a division of Penguin Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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