On the shelf: ‘Died in the Wool’ by Rett MacPherson

By Laura Nawrot, Grand Rapids Main Library

The latest in a sequence of mysteries involving Torie O’Shea, Died in the Wool was the first of Rett MacPherson’s novels for me, but it certainly won’t be the last. I just happened to pick up MacPherson’s 2007 release, but now plan to start reading about Torie from the beginning of the series. I enjoy following a familiar figure through several books, like Janet Evanovich’s character, Stephanie Plum, and I think it won’t take long for Torie to become another one of my favorites. I found MacPherson to use humor in her story in much the same way that Evanovich does, but Died in the Wool lacked the slightly steamy scenes found in Janet’s stories about Stephanie Plum’s life.

Torie (short for Victory) O’Shea is a genealogist and president of the New Kassel, Missouri historical society and the main character in a series of short mysteries featuring a genealogical twist. She is a happily married, 40ish mother who also seems to have her hand in just about everything possible in her small town.

This story begins with an unusual introduction of characters in strong disagreement over the production of the town’s first annual rose show. Torie plunges through a tangle of interwoven events that are set in motion with the planning of the show: solve a mystery surrounding a ‘haunted’ house, investigate the apparent suicides of a prominent local family in the 1920s, and discover that all is not what is appears to be simply because of her interest in quilting.

Sound confusing? Not really. MacPherson does a good job of keeping the pace quick and the details from becoming overpowering. Though it all, she brings the reader into the world of discovering how the past reaches into the present by sharing secrets of successful genealogical researching. Died in the Wool is a very quick read at less than 300 pages, but with several more books featuring Torie O’Shea, it’s sure not to disappoint.