Book Review: Quilt City Murders by Bruce Leonard

I love discovering a fabulous book, so I’m excited to share my Quilt City Murders book review.   In a nutshell:  This is an amazing mystery, and you must read it!

Finding the Book

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I actually came across Quilt City Murders during my regular search through Amazon for upcoming cozy mystery books.  Imagine my surprise when I was contacted by the author, Bruce Leonard, shortly after discovering this book!

When I first saw the book, I was immediately attracted to the quilt theme of the book, as the hobby-related books are high on the cozy vibe.  When I took a second, closer look after being contacted by the author, it piqued my interest again, so I knew it would likely be a worthy read.

And boy was it!  It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down once I started…and my family may have suffered just a bit in their general food and housekeeping needs 🙂  Totally worth it!  Sometimes you’ve gotta take one for the team.

About the Book

Quilt City Murders is set in Paducah, Kentucky, which is considered Quilt City, USA, and, houses the National Quilt Museum.  The storyline focuses on the timeline and events during and around Quilt Week.

The main character, Hadley, is a 40-something female reporter who lives in a world with a low tolerance for media and many bullying behaviors.

The story opens with Hadley revolting against the powers that be at her newspaper job for demoting her after she complained of a sexual assault at a company event.  Moved from reporter to paper delivery person, she’s throwing the papers into the river when she finds a body.  Sadly, the body is that of her ex-fiance, which is staggering since he had only broken off the engagement the week before.  

Frustrated with the local police, extreme bullying including physical assault, and an editor that won’t even allow the newspaper staff to report on the crimes, Hadley, with the help of her coworkers, chips away at their own investigation.  

As one murder turns into several, the story unfolds in twists and turns, ending in a surprising conclusion.

From the Publisher:  Quilter Hadley Carroll thinks her life can’t get any worse after being demoted from reporter to newspaper courier and having her fiancé, Matt Ackerman, dump her without explanation. But then, while chucking a sack of newspapers into the Ohio River in Paducah, Kentucky—known as Quilt City—she finds Matt’s body snagged under the transient dock. She knows she’ll never find peace if she doesn’t figure out why he left her and who killed him, so she gets to work.

But the mystery deepens when fellow quilters succumb to foul play, so Hadley must use her investigative skills and impressive intellect to connect a series of seemingly unrelated crimes.

As QuiltWeek Paducah, the largest quilting event in the world, approaches, then fills the small town with 30,000 textile connoisseurs, Paducah’s mayor tries to instill calm as citizens panic, protests flare up, and visiting quilters flee by the thousands.

Despite grieving the loss of Matt, Hadley perseveres, strengthened by her troubled upbringing and aided by her weekly quilting group. She resolutely determines to solve the murders, to bring peace back to her hometown, and to get a good night’s sleep—finally.

What I Love

The Characters

The main character, Hadley, reminded me a bit of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone – a real character with real problems but a survival instinct and a drive just to keep going.  Don’t we all feel like that every once in a while?  A totally relatable character, and I especially enjoyed her sense of humor.

The author’s ability to write such a multifaceted character deserves a round of applause.  Hadley was just the right amount of crusader, wounded, and survivor with the perfect balance of a feisty sense of humor.

I’m not a huge fan of romance in cozy mysteries, mostly because they’ve been overdone so much that I’d rather the story be about the mystery than the romance.  (And don’t even get me started on the cozy mystery series that drags out a romance for 20+ books!!!)

While I didn’t really think of “romance” while reading this book, looking back on it while I wrote this review made me realize there was just a hint of it.  First, Hadley’s ex-fiance’s death and the subsequent investigation revealed many insights into her relationship with Matt.  This was such a fabulous way to get to know this character even though, as the first victim, he wasn’t even alive and present in the goings-on.  Hadley’s internal dialogue revealed so much about their relationship, and Matt’s character, that I became attached to his character as well.

All of the characters were well-developed, to the point that while I didn’t condone his actions or love his character, the bully-police officer was even written so phenomenally that I had to appreciate the character for who he was.

The Plot

A quick alert about this book: There are multiple murders.  That’s not the norm with the cozy mystery genre, although it’s not completely a deal breaker.  But be assured that the plot of Quilt City Murders is a super tight storyline, and everything that happens in this story is tied together and makes sense.

From the very first paragraph of this book, I was captured and couldn’t wait to read the next page.  That is a perfect example of a fabulous story.  

I enjoyed the intricate puzzle and thought the journey to solving the murders was extremely well developed, to the point that I couldn’t find any missing pieces or cracks in the story’s foundation.

The author’s use of Hadley’s internal dialogue to develop Matt’s character was very interesting and deserves a commendation.  I very much enjoyed this aspect of the storyline.

The Setting

Though Kentucky is a neighboring state to my home state, and I even have family who have lived in Kentucky for over 20 years, I know next to nothing about the state.  The setting was so well-described in this story that I now feel like I could jump in a car, drive to Paducah and walk Hailey’s path from the river to the newspaper office to the casino across the river.

Sometimes, when settings are established in a book, they can feel a bit overwhelming, like I need to break out a street map or Google some landmarks. Quilt City Murders has what I would consider an ideal way to set a story: The setting is folded into the storyline in such a balanced detail that it doesn’t take away from the story as extra filler, and it doesn’t overwhelm me with feeling like I’ve just come out of a geography lesson.

I literally walked Hadley’s path with her throughout the neighborhoods of Paducah, inside the newspaper office, at home to her quilting room, and through the city’s events surrounding Quilt Week.  That’s what I consider a perfect book setting – being worked into a story so well that it becomes part of it.

Get the Book

Grab the book in Kindle ebook for paperback formats here on Amazon.

Final Thoughts & My Star Rating

When I finished Quilt City Murders, my first thought was how long the author had spent writing it. I actually felt guilty because I consumed it so quickly. I’m sure the author put a significant amount of time into writing this book, only for me to read through it so quickly.  

So, a huge thank you to all the authors who devote so much of their lives to creating these books!

Since I read so many cozy mysteries, I know that when I am immersed so quickly into a book’s storyline and finish it in a short amount of time, it’s a sure winner.

Quilt City Murders is an absolute must-read cozy mystery, and I do not say that lightly.    

I give this book a 5+ star rating! 

*****

Follow the Author

You can find Bruce Leonard, the author of Quilt City Murders here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BruceLeonardWriter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bruceleonardwriter/

Website: https://bruceleonardwriter.com/

Twitter:  https://www.twitter.com/BruceLWriter

I would love to hear your thoughts when you read Quilt City Murders!  Post in the comments below or tag me on Facebook or Instagram

Happy reading!

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