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Monica Ferris Books In Order

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Publication Order of Needlecraft Mysteries Books

Crewel World (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Framed in Lace (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Stitch in Time (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Unraveled Sleeve (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Murderous Yarn (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cutwork (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hanging by a Thread (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Crewel Yule (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
Embroidered Truths (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sins and Needles (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Knitting Bones (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Thai Die (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Blackwork (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Buttons and Bones (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Threadbare (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
And Then You Dye (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Drowning Spool (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Darned if You Do (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Knit Your Own Murder (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Monica Ferris is an American born writer of mystery, thriller, and historical fiction. She is most well known for her series of craft-related mysteries, known as “The Needlecraft Mysteries.” She began writing as Margaret of Shaftsbury for the Society for Creative Anachronism, an international organization “dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe.”

Ferris was born Mary Monica Pulver in Terre Haute, Indiana, making her a self-proclaimed “incidental hoosier,” as her parents’ home at the time was not located in Indiana, but rather Marshall, Illinois. Ferris spent part of her childhood in Illinois, and the balance in Wisconsin, attending high school in Milwaukee and later the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Before college, she worked as a journalist in the US Navy, completing six and a half years on tour, including two spent in London.

She first published under the name, Mary Monica Pulver, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in 1983, and has since sold over a dozen short stories to various mystery publications throughout the world. Farris also collaborated on a side-project with her husband as Al and Mary Kuhlfeld. The pair penned a brief series of mystery short stories surrounding Jack Hafner and Thor Nygarrd, a pair of police detectives in Minnesota. This series proved to be only a brief stint, however, when Ferris published her first novel. She was nominated for an Anthony for Best First Novel at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in 1988 with Murder at the War: A Modern-Day Mystery With a Medieval Setting (St. Martin’s Press). Murder at the War chronicles the story of policeman Peter Brichter as he investigates a murder at an event for the Society for Creative Anachronism. Ferris followed Murder at the War with the Peter Brichter Mystery series, setting subsequent books in the American Midwest, following the hard-boiled policeman and his wife, Kori. The series was published by Berkley Diamond, who released her next series of medieval murder mysteries, written in collaboration between Ferris and Gail Frazer, under the pseudonym “Margaret Frazer.” The pair produced six medieval mysteries surrounding amateur detective/nun, Dame Frevisse in 1430’s England. One of the series, The Servant’s Tale, was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Original Paperback by the Mystery Writers of America in 1993. Gail Frazer continued to work on the series alone, until her death in 2013.

In 1998, Monica Ferris began writing her most well-known series under her current pseudonym, “The Needlecraft Mysteries,” featuring a “needleworking sleuth,” Betsy Devonshire. The series has been published in both paperback and hardcover editions with multiple printings through Berkley Diamond. Her success with “Needlecraft” has landed her a spot on several local and national best-seller lists, including USA Today.

This current series is categorized as a “cozy mystery,” often characterized by light plot lines, set in small towns, featuring female amateur sleuths. Protagonists are often educated, but not always gainfully employed and only related or married to medical examiners, detectives, and police officers who provide access to classified documents and evidence pertaining to a given case. The protagonists themselves are professionals in their own rights, holding a variety of careers. The sub-genre is marketed primarily to women as “fun reads” that are engaging and exciting, without all the trappings of mainstream mystery and crime novels. There is very little real action and any sex is only eluded to and conducted beyond the gaze of the reader, language remains free of profanity, murders are never seen up-close and a majority of the clues are collected through eavesdropping. Fans enjoy the gentleness and lack of emphasis on “gratuitous sex and violence” in “cozies.”

In the aforementioned series, Betsy Devonshire is owner and proprietress of a craft store in Excelsior Minnesota. After the original owner Margot (Betsy’s sister) is murdered, Betsy must take on the responsibility of running the store while investigating Margot’s death. Betsy isn’t just an amateur sleuth, but an amateur needleworker, shop keeper, and small town girl. Hence, drama ensues as she seeks to solve mysteries throughout the series and balance her ineptitude where the needle arts are concerned. Monica Ferris initially intended Margot to be the protagonist of the series, but quickly realized that a lack of knowledge in needle-working and running a business meant a less adept main character would be more believable. She quickly killed Margot off and replaced her with Betsy.

Fans of “The Needlecraft Mysteries” laud its well-developed characters and involved plot, distinguishing Ferris from the rest of the cozy mystery sub genre that sometimes lacks an engaging plot. One reader commended the “charming” small-town setting, while others appreciated learning more about needlecraft in the process of engaging with a functioning mystery plot.

Critics complain that it’s not as hospitable to readers with little or no experience with crafts or needlework and that its intended audience is a very specific older generation of female readers. In other manifestations, readers sometimes complain about how obvious the mysteries are, and the haphazard, coincidental nature of the clues.

Ferris is a remarkable author for the sole reason that she incorporates her own experiences in the Society for Creative Anachronism and with needlecraft into her stories, rounding out the background of the story as well as the characters found therein. She attributes the various manifestations of her name to each change in subject matter and, on occasion, collaboration with other authors.

Throughout her career, Monica Ferris has taught several seminars and workshops in mystery writing to children and adults at North Hennepin Community College in Minnesota and throughout the surrounding school district. She currently lectures, appears at signings, and participates on panels at various sci-fi and mystery conventions throughout the country. She is also a paid speaker on the life of the mystery writer.

In addition to writing cozy mysteries, Farris writes memoirs of her various adventures around the United States, Asia, and Mexico as Monica Ferris. She also contributes to a blog of mystery writers doing crafts, known as “Killer Hobbies” and is part of Sisters in Crime–a national organization for women mystery writers. She is an independent scholar of medieval history and is Lay Eucharist Visitor and Lector at her local Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. She can often be spotted in one of many ornate hats, definitive of her personal style.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Monica Ferris

4 Responses to “Monica Ferris”

  1. Liz Janmaat: 2 years ago

    Hello I love reading your books, I am not sure if you will see this message, but thought I would write to you anyway. Would love more of your needle craft mysteries. If you have finished with them would you consider writing one more to round everything off please. Hoping you will write more or have several waiting to be published. I certain as many many of your fans will buy them. Thanks

  2. Fran Boyle: 2 years ago

    I have just started to read your needlework mysteries in order. I enjoy them so much and so enjoy the characters you have created.. Thank you so much for these wonderful books!
    Fran Boyle

  3. Connie Copeland: 3 years ago

    Please Please Please write more needlecraft books. I can never express how reading these books through the pandemic have helped me so much I am 74 year old and live alone. I made over 750 mask and donated them all during the pandemic. I sewed all day and then looked so forward to getting into bed each night and reading one of your books. I couldn’t see my family and felt so alone and depressed The highlight of my day was getting into bed at night and enjoying reading your books. I have just finished reading all your books and sure do hope you are writing more. Your books are a bright spot in my lonely days. Please continue writing more of them. Thank You so much

    • "Sam" short for Carol: 2 years ago

      Connie, I feel for you and identify with your situation. I so much enjoy crawling into bed and reading myself to sleep each night. It is so relaxing and fun. I am fortunate to live with my husband, but this “stay at home as much as possible” stuff is really getting to me now. Can’t wait for March and April so I can start gardening!! I too hope there will be more needlework mysteries!! Thanks.


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