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A Drunkard's Path: A Someday Quilts Mystery    by Clare O'Donohue Amazon.com order for
Drunkard's Path
by Clare O'Donohue
Order:  USA  Can
Plume, 2009 (2009)
Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Clare O'Donohue's Someday Quilts mysteries are as intricate and magical as a real quilt. Technically in the cozy subgenre, O'Donohue's novels are so much more, especially as A Drunkard's Path shows significant growth on protagonist Nell Fitzgerald's part.

Nell is settling into her new life in Archers Rest. She has a promising new boyfriend in Police Chief Jesse Dewalt, is getting ready to register for art classes at a nearby art institute, and has almost finished her first quilt. But things quickly start to unravel. Her first date with Jesse is canceled due to a body washing up in the river just down from Morristown (which means both police departments are involved).

Things start to look up when Clare meets famous 60s and 70s artist Oliver White at his gallery opening at the art institute. He starts making eyes at her grandmother, Eleanor. This helps Clare get into his full beginning painting class where she befriends Kennette, an odd but cheerful girl who is a little bit of a lost puppy. Nell and Eleanor take in Kennette who starts working at Someday Quilts and starts her first quilt with gusto. Things are only looking up for a moment, though, because Nell's and Eleanor's second dates are interrupted by yet another murder this time outside Eleanor's house.

As this victim was a student who had been seen taking money from Oliver, the police begin to look at him. Plus, Kennette starts acting even stranger, which tells Nell she definitely has something to hide. Nell is determined to investigate, even at the cost of her relationship.

Cozy mysteries tend to be populated with quirky amateur detectives and supporting characters. O'Donohue has the supporting characters' quirks down. But the fact that Nell is a smart, down-to-earth type who just happens to have too much Nancy Drew running through her veins is what makes the Someday Quilts mysteries really stand out. A Drunkard's Path is just as much about solving the murders of the two drowned women as it is about Nell's coming to terms with the needs of those important to her. Nell is very human which is why she is so likeable.

For anyone who loves a mystery or just a good story about art and quilting, A Drunkard's Path is the perfect read to snuggle up with. Clare O'Donohue has a winning character on her hands, and I, for one, cannot wait to see where her sleuthing and quilting takes her next.

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