Ferris' latest is as enjoyable as always. I do recommend that the reader try to read the books in order, as the characters develop, although it isn't absolutely necessary. The needlework lore is, as usual, fascinating, and I think that story is interesting even for someone who doesn't do needlework.
Ferris made a lot of good decisions in setting up this series that add to both the storytelling and the plausibility. Betsy is not an expert craftswoman (she inherited the store) and so it is reasonable to have people explaining things to her. Her best friend is a capable policewoman. She knows when to call the police: no going down alone into dark cellars to look for axe murderers.
Ferris strands Betsy, Godwin and Jill in a snowbound hotel in Nashville for a needlework trade show. Jill and Betsy attempt to solve the death (murder, suicide, accident?) of a store-owner who had abused a lot of people. Godwin spends most of his time being his usual charming self. The characters are as likeable as always, the dialogue is well done. I was amused by the setting of a hotel besieged by snow - eventually, that sort of thing of thing is funny. My chief regret is the Mavreen Harrison, the overworked night manager/acting day manager in this crisis, will presumably be staying in Nashville. What a delightful character!
The reader does need to check the dates that head some of the paragraphs. The book begins with a series of flashbacks explaining the background of the character and the suspects intermingled with the beginning of the mystery. Considerable setup is required for the story, so it keeps the action going while telling the reader the important facts.
I also enjoyed Ferris' theme relating to the character of the deceased. Ferris dwells on the contradictions and frustration created by a person who swings between kindness and cruelty and supposes, as one of the characters notes, that cuteness is a license to behave however one likes, and an apology means that it never happened and the victim has to forgive and forget. Too often, there is an epiphany at the end of the book (movie, TV episode) in which one good deed wipes out years of pain. While Ferris isn't recommending murder, she does deal meaningfully with anger. If this interests the reader, I'd recommend Agatha Christie's The Mirror Crack'd, which turns on the difference between being kind or well-meaning and thoughtful.
I have one very serious complaint: this is probably the worst copy editting that I have ever seen. Whole phrases are left out of sentences, character names are confused. There are electronic grammer check programs that would have caught a lot of these mistakes. Inexcusable!
First book in the series: Crewel World (Needlecraft Mystery)