by Sandra Murphy
& Anne Canadeo
This week we have a review of the latest crafting mystery by Anne Canadeo along with a fun guest post by Anne about the series and a fun recipe for your holiday baking. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Strangers on a Skein: A Black Sheep & Company Mystery by Anne Canadeo
Review by Sandra Murphy
In Plum Harbor, the Black Sheep Knitting Shop is the place to go for yarns of any color, weight, and description. Maggie is the owner, Phoebe, her younger assistant manager, is a favorite of their regular clientele. Phoebe has the opportunity to have her own stall at the Farmer’s and Crafts Market, just in time for the holidays. The sad news is, the former tenant committed suicide.
One thing after another goes wrong. Phoebe’s cheating ex-boyfriend has a booth across from hers, terrible reviews of Phoebe’s wares show up on social media, and her stall is filled with trash bags full of rotting fish. It’s enough to make her think the booth is jinxed.
When a second vendor is killed, the Black Sheep knitters want Phoebe to stay away from the market but do step back to let her make up her own mind. Too bad her mind says go work the market regardless of potential danger.
The police suspect Phoebe’s ex-boyfriend is the killer, but she’s sure he’s not. A cheater yes, killer no, and she’s determined to prove it.
This is book five in the series. Maggie and her friends are a close group and have folded Phoebe into their midst. The knitting shop is a place to go, to knit, to learn, to just hang out. This time, the mystery revolves around Phoebe with the others taking a back seat. The mystery is enjoyable although I prefer when the friends are more actively involved than just worrying about Phoebe’s safety and her love life.
At the back of the book find a link to a pattern for knit socks, Phoebe’s specialty, and a recipe for zucchini and carrot patties with yogurt dill sauce.
Insights into The Black Sheep & Company
By Anne Canadeo
What makes the Black Sheep & Company Mysteries different from other cozy series? That’s easy to answer. It’s the friendship between the knitters, which is as central to the stories as their clever crime solving. Once a week, and more often than that, the Black Sheep meet to stitch, gossip, share joys and concerns, and ponder the latest, puzzling events going on in cozy Plum Harbor, Massachusetts. Many readers say that each book is like getting together with a bunch of great women friends.
Unlike many series that feature a single amateur sleuth, Maggie, Suzanne, Dana, Lucy, and Phoebe put their insights and personal expertise together to investigate. There’s Dana, a psychologist, Lucy, a graphic artist who’s a whiz at research, Suzanne, a pragmatic businesswoman, Maggie with a shopkeeper’s knowledge of the community and a quiet, deep wisdom about human nature. Finally, there’s Phoebe, the youngest in group, with her tech knowledge and off-beat perspective. When the Black Sheep put their wits together, their sleuthing-synergy can unmask even the craftiest killer.
I’ve often been asked which character I identify with most. That’s a hard question to answer. I suppose each of the women reflect some aspect of my personality and experience. Even, of a path not taken.
Over the course of many books—twelve titles all toll—each of the women has made progress in her life, like romance evolving to engagement, a wedding and even, pregnancy. Or they’ve moved forward with career goals, like graduating, opening a new business, or taking their professional skills in a new direction. The support and encouragement of good friends has made the joys in life sweeter and the setbacks easier to bare.
Although the Black Sheep put their wits together to solve each mystery, one of the friends is center stage in every story. In the newest book, Strangers on a Skein, it’s Phoebe’s turn.
The shop’s assistant manager, Phoebe, is also an aspiring designer, building a following for her knitted creations. She’s excited to get a stall at the local Farmers & Crafts Market, but spooked when she learns that the previous occupant, Farmer Jimmy Hooper, has died under suspicious circumstances. Her good friends calm her down, and more or less, “push her out the nest.” But when another vendor is found dead, everyone becomes concerned for Phoebe’s safety and the Black Sheep’s investigation heats up.
In the end, Phoebe unmasks the marketplace murderer and brings them to justice. With a little help from her friends, of course.
The Black Sheep love to cook and share good food almost as much as they love knitting and solving crimes. Here’s one of their favorite recipes, perfect for holiday baking or any time you need as a sweet treat to share with your good friends.
Black Sheep EZ-Macaroons
2 cookie sheets 9 X 13, preferably without edges.
Cup of warm water
Mixing spoon, silicone spatula, measuring spoons?
1 lb. shredded coconut (one large bag)
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened, condensed milk
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Colored sugar crystals, such as red and green for the holidays
Or 8 ounces high quality bar chocolate or chocolate chips
Fix oven racks to middle and second rung.
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (Do not skip this step.)
Combine shredded coconut with condensed milk and vanilla until completely mixed.
Using a teaspoon or tablespoon (depending on how large you want the macaroons) drop balls of the batter on to the cookie sheets, evenly spaced 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart. The cookies will spread.
Dip the spoon in the warm water to rinse off excess batter and make it easier to handle.
Crystal sugar decorations can be sprinkled at this time.
Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 15 minutes, depending on the oven.
Watch the cookies while baking and turn the sheets if your oven has hot spots. If the macaroons are spreading too quickly, raise the heat to 400 degrees.
Place cookie sheets on racks and cool thoroughly before removing. The parchment paper will keep them from sticking but the cookies will be fragile until they are cooled and set, 15 to 30 minutes.
To decorate with chocolate: Melt 8 ounces of chocolate in a covered bowl in the microwave with short, 10-20 second spurts of heat so it doesn’t burn.
Macaroons can be dipped into the liquid chocolate. Or, the chocolate can be drizzled from a spoon, swirled over the tray of cooled cookies, in an “abstract art” style.
As the Black Sheep would say, “Express yourself! And enjoy!”
To enter to win a copy of Strangers on a Skein, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “skein,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 18, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A Christmas episode went up this week week.
You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.