Adventures in storytelling by Bob Rector


The eleven long short stories in “Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads combine history, mystery, action and/or romance, and range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets, to an Antebellum U. S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits, to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft trials, to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirt Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macramé artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.



S. R. Mallery’s “Sewing Can Be Dangerous” is a collection of stories that all have a common thread (sorry): sewing, especially quilt making. Ms. Mallery ingeniously weaves this theme through a wide variety of settings and time periods, from a plantation in the old South to Medieval England, from early 20th century New York City to San Francisco’s Summer of Love.

The element of danger is ever present, but has nothing to do with something as simple as pricking fingers on needles. Most of the stories are about individual women who are persecuted for a variety of reasons, whether from social mores of the times or just blatant intolerance, brutality, and hatred, yet each finds their own unique path to victory.

Among my favorites is the story of a farm wife who purchases an early Singer sewing machine and sets it up in the middle of a vast cornfield, complete with foul-weather shelter, allowing her to work with some degree of privacy. To say that she becomes a bit obsessive would be an understatement. To complicate matters, there is an Indian uprising that puts the lives of her family and neighbors in jeopardy. The manner in which she uses her sewing skills and her big heart to save the day makes for delightful reading.

Another story takes place on a modern day cruise ship on which our stalwart protagonist conducts quilt making classes. She shares a cabin with a hard-nosed NYC cop on R&R leave after a particularly bad experience working a case. The two women are polar opposites, but when a murder takes place on the open seas, the two are inexplicably thrown together to solve the crime and find the killer. It’s a skillful blend of dark humor and hair-raising narrow escapes.

Each of the stories can easily be read in a single sitting, making the book a friendly, reliable companion to keep handy either at home or away. One can imagine Ms. Mallery stirring a big pot of savory stew as she spins her tales to a group of captivated listeners gathered round the hearth. Highly recommended.


S. R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life. Starting out as a classical/pop singer/composer, she worked in clubs and churches while composing for educational filmstrips. From there, she moved on to having her own calligraphy company, a twenty-year quilting and craft business, and teaching English as a Second Language/Reading. Finally, she tried her hand at fiction writing and it was like an all-consuming drug. She’s been happily writing ever since.

She has had eleven short fiction pieces published in “descant 2008,” “Snowy Egret,” “Transcendent Visions,” “The Storyteller,” and “Down In The Dirt”. Several of her stories have appeared in different anthologies through Scars Publications. Before that, she had articles published in “Traditional Quiltworks” by Chitra Publications, and “Quilt World” by House of White Birches when she was a professional quilt artist/quilt teacher.

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