Copyright: April 2010 (NAL); 320 pgs
Series: # 3 in Seaside Knitters Mysteries
Mystery sub-genre: Cozy
Main Character: Nell Endicott with Izzy, Cass and Birdie
Setting: Modern day Sea Harbor Massachusetts
Obtained book through: Library
The small town of Sea Harbor has two powerful families (Delany and Santos) in the development/building business but they put their differences aside long enough to attend a charity event. But on the drive home Sophia Santos' car goes off a sea side cliff. The police find from the wreckage that the expensive speciality brakes were cut. Grace is a friend of the group and the victim was her aunt who raised her. So naturally the group jumps into investigating Sophia's last week to find out why she was murder and by whom. There are plenty of suspects lurking around corners since Sophia was powerful and opinionated - even her husband.
The main character of Nell is like slipping on a warm wool sweater, so comfortable. Her niece Izzy owns the local yarn and knitting shop. The dynamic between the two is loving and enjoyable. Throw in Cass and the the older wealthy Birdie and you have a delightful team whose friendship is their rock and their sleuthing is their next hobby after knitting. I have to admit that it took me a little bit to figure out the four cohorts and their relationships since I had not read the two prior books, but that didn't last long. It is easy to catch on.
I classified this as a cozy rather than a craft mystery because I think the emphasis really is on the community and the relationships in the group rather than the knitting. Granted there are references to the knitting they each are doing, but it is such a part of each character that it lends to the story rather than seeming contrived. I loved the sea side brought to life and could almost smell that sea brine and feel the ocean mist on my face. The sense of place is wonderfully done.
It was a night for the Moon Spinners to begin their task. Nell stood in silence, imagining the women of the ancient Celtic myth pulling the silvery strands of light from the sky and winding it on distaffs until weeks later the waning moon would disappear completely, leaving the world wrapped in a blanket of darkness, the tides quieter, creatures safe from the hunter...Like many cozy mysteries, the process of questioning and detecting takes its time and is not rushed, but it carried me through nicely and kept me coming back for more. The plot is not complicated but was adequate for the story and felt believable. I had suspected the killer but didn't have the motive worked out until the big reveal. I felt the ending was satisfying, but most of all, when I think back on the book I miss the characters. The true sign of a good cozy!
Nell wouldn't know later what it was - the strain of staring at the bright light or the anticipation of the party? But the moon seemed to grow larger beneath her stare, a moon lacking the comforting, gentle smile of her childhood when she'd lie flat in a Kansas field and look up at it, making wishes, telling secrets.
Tonight it wasn't a smile that passed down over those thousands and thousands of miles. The moon's light and shadow had mixed in an ominous way. Nell felt a foreboding - like the green sky before a tornado rolled across the Kansas plains or the unsettling quiet before a nor'easter surged down on Sea Harbor.
Instinctively, she took a step back and looked away, wrapping her arms around herself and shivering slightly.
So if you like your cozy mysteries to provide you with interesting friends to follow their adventures, this is a book for you.
AND NOW for a blast from the past. Remember the old novel The Moon Spinners by Mary Stewart that was made into a 1964 Disney movie starring Haley Mills???