The Whitney women can all read lace, but Towner Whitney doesn't want any part of it, and has left Salem Massachusetts and Yellow Dog Island to get away from all the bad memories of her childhood home and the lace readings. Living in L.A. she has no intention of returning.
The book starts when she receives a call from her brother telling her that her 80-something-year-old Great Aunt Eva is missing and she must return home. Towner is recovering from a surgical procedure and had been thinking of the gift that her Great Aunt Eva had recently sent to her. It was a lace-making pillow, used for making Ipswich lace. The lace making and the reading of lace had been a tradition of the Whitney women, and Towner was no exception. Although she wants no part of it anymore, she loves her aunt and feels she has to face her bad memories and go home. Salem and Yellow Dog Island are places filled with fearful bad memories.
Towner returns after being away for over 15 years and is immediately entrenched in all the troubles of the past. It is interesting to follow the writing of author Barry as she writes through the eyes of Towner, who sometimes lives in her dreams of the past. The story is kept fresh with trying to determine if what Towner is thinking is real, or the memories from childhood twisted over time.
Of course there is the love interest in Rafferty, the detective who is assigned to the case, as well as all the other quirky characters. Salem women who are Witches and selling their wares in the small shops on the square, and the women of Yellow Dog Island and their lace, making kept this book moving along nicely.
The Lace Reader is quite an interesting book. Brunonia Barry pulled me in right away with her way of including an excerpt from The Lace Readers Guide, at the beginning of each chapter. The Salem history, entwined with the story of Towner and the strange group of characters kept me glued to this book to the end.
Women, lace, and a missing older lady makeup an interesting read.