I have been stitching a bit lately (since I got the finger turban) but mostly I've been reading. The action's been going on over here. I recently finished a historical mystery novel. Not my usual thing. I'm not going to consult the OED over this, but I am pretty sure calling someone a dumb-ass in the late eighteenth century may be historically inaccurate. And that sort of thing is why I don't normally read historical fiction of any subgenre. However, I read this one and I enjoyed it in the way one enjoys gummi candy.
If you've ever read Susan Glaspell's "A Jury of Her Peers," this novel will seem familiar. (There's even the obligatory dead caged bird.)
In Hearts and Bones, the midwife-detective, Hannah Trevor, has access to evidence that the men don't. But the best part is the needlework is the most important evidence in solving the crime! Take that Monica Ferris! Margaret Lawrence has thought about embroidery in ways I can respect. At one point someone asks the midwife Hannah if she finds embroidery useless. Hannah defends it by saying when men do useless things it's called art. And the interlocutor responds, "I perceive you do some needlework yourself, Mrs. Trevor. You defend it very well." She does; she's a quilter and the title of the book refers to the quilt pattern she is currently working.
Later, Hannah writes in her diary, "Here I draw out in part the pattern of briar roses from [spoiler prevention: a person's] crewelwork, which I saw on the pocket in Mrs. Emory's room. It is a woman's kind of proof, but proof it is, and no man would think to record it." Okay, okay, it takes Glaspell's short story and beats the dead horse. Still the pattern is kind of cool, and if I didn't have WIPs out the ying I'd stitch it up as a little rememberance of a mystery that really uses needlework as the solution.
Nancy Pearl recommended this book because it is set in Maine. Maybe I just don't know Maine all that well, or 18th century Maine, but I thought this could have been set anywhere where it snows a lot.