Cathedral Windows - A Someday Quilts Mystery. Clare O'Donohue. Penguin Special from Plume Books (Penguin Group USA). November 2012. 80pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9781101615843.
Nell's grandmother taught her by example, not to be drawn to material things but to give when things are needed and to give freely. All in all, it's better to give than to receive; but she's finding that the latest project is fraught with trouble. First there are the children whom she is teaching to make a quilt in order to sell it to raise money for the Fire Department their small town shares with nearby Morrison in upstate Hudson Valley in New York State. The kids are psyched to get into sewing nine inch square patches for the quilt but almost get into a huge fight when they can't share the remaining colored patches. Then the teacher disappears and doesn't seem too thrilled when he returns!
Charlie is the new teacher whom the kids love and see as a hero. He's actually a veteran recently returned from serving in the military in Afghanistan. He has a great deal of adjusting to do and the rest of the town assumes he's "strange" or "weird" because he's obviously been through hell in the war, when the reality is they know absolutely nothing about him. Their suspicion only grows when his home burns down and neighbors are quick to assume it was arson committed by Charlie in his current "state," whatever that may be defined as. However, Nell decides she will stand up for him and she does just that, discovering in the process the love he had for the "Cathedral Window" quilt from his grandmother.
Cathedral Windows might be a very short novel, but it's tightly plotted and well-written as a result. It would make a lovely holiday gift or just a lovely read for anyone who enjoys a mystery with caring, compassionate, and realistic characters. Very nicely done, Ms. O'Donohue!