by Cynthia Chow
& Sandra Murphy
This week we have another fun group of craft and sewing related mysteries from Penguin & Kensington authors-A Knit Before Dying: A Tangled Web Mystery by Sadie Hartwell, Knot What You Think: A Quilting Mystery by Mary Marks, Macrame Murder: A Cora Crafts Mystery by Mollie Cox Bryan, & Murder Wears Mittens: A Seaside Knitters Mystery by Sally Goldenbaum. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 4 books, along with links you can use to purchase them.
A Knit Before Dying: A Tangled Web Mystery by Sadie Hartwell
Review by Cynthia Chow
Just six months ago, Josie Blair was a talented designer working for a far more famous one in New York City. The death of her great-aunt and accompanying unexpected inheritance led Josie to Dorset Falls, Connecticut, where she is blissfully running the Miss Marple Knits store and living on a rural farm. Her roommate Great-Uncle Eb may be cranky and demanding, refusing to show her the iron sculptures he creates in his woodshop, but his grouchiness is (mostly) only surface level. Josie affectionately accepts his cranky attitude, but the real challenge is becoming a business owner and landlord. Shop-running is going far smoother than expected, but Josie’s first experience renting out her building has just hit a bit of a bump. Lyndon Bailey barely had a chance to move in his stock before Josie finds him dead in his antiques store, with his business partner Harry Oglethorpe standing over the bloody corpse.
Despite the evidence, it’s not an open-and-shut case. True, Lyndon had plans for a television traveling show before his demise that would have left Harry out in the cold. Yet it’s not long before Lyndon’s niece arrives, demanding entrance to the antique store and towing along her own cameraman. Josie finds solace from all of the strife at the neighboring Woodruff farm, home of her favorite alpaca, not to mention the inexplicably attractive and overall nice guy Mitch Woodruff. Mitch and Josie may not be Romeo and Juliet, but her great-uncle and his grandfather have a rivalry that began with their fathers and continues through elaborately plotted and hilarious pranks today. The reason behind their dispute is one the men refuse to disclose, adding yet another mystery to the old and new crimes that have descended upon Dorset falls.
Along with Josie, readers will find themselves enchanted with the picturesque town of Dorset Falls. This is one of those dream settings where the greatest source of information comes from the elders, whose families have lived in the town for generations. Josie and her friends look out for one another, gently meddling in one another’s lives and always looking out for their best interests. Dorset Falls is also a place that hides some ugly secrets, and readers will be invested in seeing their favorite characters don’t come to harm. This charming cozy delves into the craft of knitting and specifically doilies, a forgotten craft that may provide Josie with the key to solving a multitude of mysteries. This second in the Tangled Web knitting series showcases strong friendships, sympathetic characters, and small-town intrigue.
Knot What You Think: A Quilting Mystery by Mary Marks
Review by Sandra Murphy
Martha Rose is the kind of older woman you want to become. She’s active, has loyal friends, two potential romances, although Yossi looks like he’s in the lead there, and an active curiosity that often gets her into trouble.
Every Tuesday, Lucy, Birdie, Jazz, and Martha get together to quilt. Zsa Zsa Galore, Jazz’s Maltese is always in attendance, dressed to match whatever he’s wearing. This week, he’s the last to arrive. He stopped to deliver clothes for a Chihuahua for his friend Dolleen. Even though he could hear her dog, Patti, barking, she didn’t answer the door. Odd, because she takes Patti everywhere with her. He’d also stopped the night before with the same results.
Having been involved in sudden deaths before, the women pile into the car and following his directions, check things out for themselves. Sad to say, Dolleen is on the floor, coshed in the head with an exercise dumbbell. Since Martha’s other love interest is a police detective, she calls him. They’re on the outs so he wasn’t happy to hear from her even before she explains about the dead body.
Dolleen is famous or maybe infamous is the better word. She had an affair with David Shapira who divorced his wife (ugly divorce) and married Dolleen. David is currently in prison for fraud in a Ponzi scheme that robbed thousands of people of their life savings.
A witness points the detectives in Jazz’s direction and he is a Person of Interest. Since he knows he will not look his best in an orange prison jumpsuit, he’s ready to panic. What else can Martha do but investigate? The suspect list is huge and the detectives need to realize that.
As the case moves along, Martha’s able to see greater contrast between the two men in her life. She’s got a lot to think about but first, Jazz has to be cleared of suspicion. Then comes Birdie’s wedding to her long time love. After that, Martha can think about herself.
Martha is a delight. You’d love to have her as a friend but be aware that could lead to a jail sentence for breaking and entering, tampering with evidence, obstruction and a few other misdemeanors. Still, she’d be great company as a cellmate.
The women are in their sixties and seventies, still active, curious and attractive to the men in their lives. Jazz is flat out a hoot in designer clothes—his design of course. Zsa Zsa’s beyond comparison. Don’t forget Bumper, Martha’s cat.
Martha is Jewish so readers will learn how she celebrates with relatives and friends. She has fibromyalgia and tension headaches to deal with and still manages to get everything done. There are also quilting tips throughout the book. It’s all done seamlessly as part of the story. When you reach the last page, there’s only one thing to say—what’s next?
This is book five in the series. Read them all to get the full Martha Rose experience.
Macrame Murder: A Cora Crafts Mystery by Mollie Cox Bryan
Review by Sandra Murphy
At home, Cora and her friends, Jane and Ruby, run craft retreats. Classes are taught so participants can learn new hobbies, but there’s free time to relax and unwind. Now the three of them have been invited to Sea Glass Island to teach classes for Mathilde. The resort is beautiful. Along for the ride are Adrian, Cora’s boyfriend, Cashel, Ruby’s son, and London, Jane’s young daughter. Jane teaches pottery, Cora blogging for profit, and Ruby is into candles with shells this trip.
On a romantic walk along the beach, Adrian and Cora come upon a wedding. The bride is wearing a tiara of gems, sea glass, and shells. It’s stunning. Later that night, sirens sound as emergency vehicles are called to the scene of a death. Cora is shocked to find out it’s the bride—and it doesn’t look like an accident.
What’s worse is that Adrian and the bride were well acquainted, a little detail he forgot to mention. As the week goes on, more such details are revealed, making Adrian look like the prime suspect. Cora wants to help but is hampered by the classes she’s teaching and those she promised to drop in on as part of her contract. A second death only serves to ramp up the tension.
Everyone has secrets, but it’s hard to unravel which secret got the bride killed. When a second death occurs, Cora is really confused. Surely there aren’t two killers on the island? What could have been a wonderfully relaxing retreat has become a tense, anxiety-filled weekend.
Cora used to be a counselor at a woman’s shelter, but the stress became too much. Even though the stress levels of having a boyfriend who doesn’t share information, two murders, and an expensive but not well run (this time anyway) retreat are high, it’s still better than her old job. Jane is a supportive friend, as is Ruby. Cashel is an attorney who may or may not have feelings for Cora. Adrian, a mild-mannered librarian, seems an unlikely killer.
Intrigue swirls around the island like the currents that bring the sea glass to the beach. Although Jane and Cora prefer wine, this mystery calls for a pina colada and plenty of time to decipher the clues.
Murder Wears Mittens: A Seaside Knitters Mystery by Sally Goldenbaum
Review by Sandra Murphy
Cass Halloran runs a lobster business in Sea Harbor, Massachusetts. She’s not usually the sentimental type, but after meeting a young boy at the laundromat late one night, she’s taken an interest in finding out more about him.
Cass, Izzy, a former lawyer and now owner of the yarn shop, Nell the cook and organizer, and Birdie, their older friend, have been involved in mysteries before. This seems to be an easy one. Checking with the priest, Cass is able to find out who the boy is and that the sweater belongs to his sister. The four friends return the sweater only to find the children alone. Their mother went to run an errand the evening before and didn’t come back.
Sister Fiona, Cass’s aunt, knows the children and their mother, Kayla Stewart. She’s found with a head injury and can’t remember how that happened. Her bike is found against Delores Cardozo’s house. Inside, Delores is dead on the floor. It seems logical that Kayla is either a suspect or a witness, but which? Even she doesn’t know.
Kayla delivered meals to Delores and they were seemingly good friends. Delores was known for the long walks she took each day, no matter the weather. Many people didn’t know her name but when hearing of her death, recognized the description of her long white ponytail and her distinctive walking stick. It’s a surprise to most everyone that Delores had money.
The four women take Kayla under their wings and try to figure out the puzzle of Delores’s life. It gets more suspicious when Kayla inherits money in Delores’s will. Kayla has a secret and no one can discover what it is, not even Izzy’s brother Charlie, one of the few people Kayla talks freely to.
The four women are the best of friends. Luckily, their husbands and significant others get along well too—they also have a great understanding of the women, an enviable situation. The suspects in Delores’s death are many more than expected. Richie, a new reporter for the local paper, is overly interested in more than news. People who were formerly in the will and are now left out, might have motive. A neighbor seems to think he would inherit Delores’s land. Developers have been courting her about it for years.
Secrets come out, motives are discovered and dismissed, clues lead to a satisfying conclusion as the women once again unravel the mystery. Jump in anywhere or start at the beginning of the series. Either way, you’re in for an enjoyable time with good friends, great food, and a mystery to solve. Knitters will like the added bonus of a pattern for simple skyp socks by Adrienne Ku at the back of the book.
To enter to win a copy of all 4 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “crafty,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 7, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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