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Let's Get Crafty: Read This Exciting Excerpt of Crafting With Slander

The third book in the Gasper's Cove Mystery Series has everything a cozy mystery needs: corrupt politicians, murder, and crafts. 

crafting with slander book cover

Crafting cozy mystery fans rejoice! The third installment in Barbara Emodi's Gasper's Cove Mystery Series, Crafting With Slander, releases May 25, 2024.

And we have an exciting excerpt from the first chapter. Valerie Ranking returns in the midst of Gasper's Cove's mayoral election. 

Because the town is currently controlled by a corrupt political agenda, Valerie's cousin, Darlene, an ex-hairdresser, decides to run for mayor.

Valerie and the Gasper's Crafters band together to create a beautiful campaign for Darlene; but as is the way with corrupt politics in a small town, false rumors about Darlene begin to swirl. 

But when Valerie goes to confront Darlene's opponent, Mighty Mike Murphy, she finds his body aside one of Darlene's stenciled campaign posters. Can Valerie hunt the real killer down before she and Darlene are framed for his murder? 

Whether you're in it for the cozy tone, crafty components, or the crafty killers, Crafting With Slander has mastered the art of cozy mysteries. 

Read an excerpt of Crafting with Slander now, buy the book, and get crafty!





Crafting with Slander: Gasper's Cove Mysteries Book 3

By Barbara Emodi

Chapter One

“Who has some dynamite? We’ve got to blow up the causeway.”

Annette LeBlanc slammed her phone down onto the Co-op counter. “Time we cut them off,” she said.

“Dynamite? Where are we going to get that?” I asked. I saw that the screen of her phone was now cracked.

“Be practical.”

Annette stared at me while she thought. “Can’t you make explosives yourself? I remember something about baking soda and vinegar … ”

“That’s for sinks,” I reminded her. “For a big explosion, you need the real stuff.” I refocused. “But hang on. Why are we doing this?”

Sylvie interrupted before Annette could answer.

“If we can’t get explosives, how about a human chain?” she asked. Sylvie picked up the phone and read. “We can hold hands and block the road. No one gets in or out.”

Annette shook her head, bouncing the beach waves of her blond wig. “We can’t do that. My kids’ orthodontist is in Drummond.”

Sylvie considered this setback. “How about a giant knitted barrier with a button-up gate for emergencies? We could use up all that cheap acrylic.” She had once yarn-bombed the parking meters downtown with hand-knitted scarves. A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Sylvie was a high-concept thinker.

But I was the manager. And we were crafters, not terrorists. “Give me that phone,” I said, prying it out of

Sylvie’s hand. “What’s going on?” As soon as I saw the headline, I knew.

The Towns of Gasper’s Cove and

Drummond to Merge

Mayor Mike Murphy Seals the Deal

I could smell coconut hand cream behind me. My cousin Darlene had moved in to read over my shoulder.

“That man lies like a carpet,” she sputtered. “He said it wouldn’t happen.” The coffee in Darlene’s hand splashed onto a display of stained-glass suncatchers. I reached for a paper towel. Darlene was on the Gasper’s Cove town council. If a merger was in the works, she would know.

I sighed. The clean-up session I’d organized with the Co-op’s crafters was over. Dusters were down, outrage was up.

“Look what happened when they joined Musquodoboit with the Harbor.” An older volunteer’s voice shook. “It was a disaster.”

The room agreed. They’d heard the stories and repeated them now.

“Seniors couldn’t pay the new taxes. Lost their houses.”

“Cars got $50 tickets for parking on the street in a snowstorm.”

“The school closed.”

“It killed the place.”

“Turned Musquodoboit into a donut town. Good stuff on the edges. Hole in the middle.”

“They merge us, and the Agapi restaurant will be gone.”

“Put in an Olive Garden instead.”

“Replace this store with a Walmart.”

“Can’t do that, this is a heritage property.”

“All right then, they’d build a Walmart next door, just as bad.”

The group went silent. The Crafters’ Co-op was on the second floor of my family business, Rankin’s General, on Front Street, Gasper’s Cove, Nova Scotia. The store, like the street, hadn’t changed in 120 years.

“Mike can’t do this,” I argued. “Who gave him the right?”

“Those idiots at Province House, that’s who,” Darlene snapped. “The stupid government is offering $200,000 to municipalities willing to absorb smaller communities. The province is calling it rationalization.”

“Mike sold us out? For money?” I was shocked. I knew the mayor of Drummond. “Mighty Mike” Murphy was a classic back-slapping rural politician. Up to now, I had considered him harmless. “He can’t do that. We’re different towns,” I said.

black and white image of an arm dropping a ballot into a ballot box
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  • Photo Credit: Element5 Digital / Unsplash

Annette took her phone back. “That could change.” She started to read out loud. “Listen to this.”

As directed by the province, amalgamation can occur after a joint municipal election. The new councils would then decide whether they want to proceed as one or two towns. In a surprise move, Mayor Murphy has called for an election to accelerate the process of joining the communities.

“I know what people want,” Murphy said. “Let the people vote. They’ll get behind whatever I think is best. You’re looking at the next mayor of a bigger, better, stronger municipality. Good as a done deal.”

When asked by reporters what the expanded town would be called, Mayor Murphy said his preference would be DUM, Drummond United Municipality. Pressed on what the citizens of Gasper’s Cove would think of the new name, Mayor Murphy’s response was definitive.

“They’ll get used to it.”

By the time Annette had finished reading, Darlene’s face was as red as her hair. I could see the wheels whirling behind my cousin’s blue eyes. I held my breath. What Darlene said next would be significant. She was as close to a real politician as anyone we knew.

“You know what this means?” she asked us. We didn’t, but waited to find out. “Once an election is called, the whole council is disbanded. That’s the system. Everything will be up to the new council and the new mayor. We need someone who won’t let this happen to run against Mike.”

“Maybe, what’s-his-name Nickerson,” I suggested. “The senator’s son. I heard he’s interested in the mayor’s job. He might knock out Mike.”

“Nickerson?” Darlene bristled. “Don’t trust him. He’s a bigger-is-better kind of guy.”

“It’s out of our hands then,” Annette said. “Who else is there?”

I had a queasy feeling in my stomach. I was afraid of what was coming next.

“Me,” Darlene said. “I will.”

I took off my work apron and put it on the hook behind the counter. I moved slowly as I tried to put together the right words. Darlene wasn’t up to this challenge. Couldn’t she see that?

“Look, you are an excellent hair stylist and great crocheter,” I began. I pointed to a display of her potholders as proof. “Besides, they already made you town councillor for this part of the island,” I reminded her. “Mayor of the whole thing is different.”

“Different? How?” Darlene asked. I knew that testy tone. I looked around to the rest of the group for support.

“To run for mayor, you need big money and connections,” Annette said, backing me up. “You need signs. You need buttons. You need speeches. You need workers.” She put her hand on Darlene’s shoulder and shook it, as if trying to jiggle in some common sense. “Think about it. You don’t have any of that. Dynamite would be easier.”

“We are talking about being taken over by Drummond.” Darlene moved out from under Annette’s hand. “You know what they’re like.” We knew.

Only ten minutes apart, Gasper’s Cove, Nova Scotia (population 2,000) had absolutely nothing in common with Drummond (population 5,000). Over here, we had history, craftspeople, and artists. Over there, on the other side of the causeway, they had an outlet store, a call center, and a tire plant. Even worse, for decades, the citizens of Drummond had called us the Last Gaspers from Last Gasp. If they thought we hadn’t heard them, they were wrong.

I knew when I was defeated. Darlene had been standing up to bullies ever since we were kids.

“I’ve got an idea for signs,” one of our members said, breaking the silence. “Stencils. I did a border on a bedroom once. It’s not hard.” A couple of her friends nodded; stenciling had been big in the 1990s. Many of them still had the brushes down in the basement.

Our best baby-clothes knitter, Tilly Ferguson, put up her hand. Working small was her specialty. “What about campaign buttons?” she asked. “They’d be like coasters with a pin on the back. I could get the girls at church to start cross-stitching.”

Darlene suddenly looked taller. “I can talk,” she said. “I can make speeches. And for a campaign manager”—she elbowed me in the ribs—“I’ve got my relatives.”

I didn’t say anything. Instead, I moved away to the big semicircular window. I looked out over the water. I couldn’t do it. I already managed a store, ran the Co-op, and was behind in my sewing. I wasn’t even sure I had voted in the last election. I stalled. I pretended to admire the view.

On the street below, I saw a car towing a tent trailer pull up next to the wharf. Ontario plates. A young couple got out.

The man was about the same age as my sons. I thought that I recognized him—he must be home for a visit. Across from him, the young woman posed in front of a pile of lobster traps. The young man held up his phone and took a picture. The couple both studied the phone and laughed, no doubt posting for the benefit of friends in Toronto.

I remembered then that Darlene had come to the house to do my hair the morning after the last of my children left home. I turned around.

“If there’s no one else,” I said. “I’ll do it. I’ll try.”

Darlene reached across the counter and crushed me in a hug. I could feel the relief in her body. Then, a shadow passed across her face.

“What will I wear?” she asked, stricken.

“I have your measurements,” I reassured her. I sewed, she didn’t. “We’ll figure it out.”

Across from us, Sylvie worked her way to the front of the group. She smelled strongly of fish. No wonder her seaweed cosmetics were hard to sell. “I’ll help with the signs,” she said. “But I have one question. What will they say?” We looked at each other. Our minds went blank.

Then, it came to me like a vision. I could see it as if it were floating in the sky, above the waves. In big letters.

“DUM is DUMB,” I blurted. “VOTE DARLENE.”

There was silence while everyone considered this idea, then applause. I felt proud. I had coined my first political slogan.

“Perfect,” Darlene said. It was done.

“Mighty Mike has no idea who he is dealing with,” she whispered to me.

No, he didn’t.

But neither did we.

Featured images: Element5 Digital / Unsplash