Last week we were in Massachusetts for apple harvest season, now we head to the shore for a small coastal Mass town during the cold holiday season. Back in July I reviewed the previous book, Moon Spinners, as well as interviewed Sally and I am just delighted to have another book so soon. Bundle up, it is a humid wind that blows the snow in Sea Harbor.
Copyright: November 2010 (NAL Books) 270 pgs
Series: 4th Seaside Knitters Mystery
Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy
Main Character: Nell Endicott, her niece Izzy Chamber, friends Birdie Favazza and Cassandra Halloran
Setting: Modern day Sea Harbor, Massachusetts during the holidays
Obtained Through: publisher for honest review
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays the Seaside Knitters are helping Mary Pisano with turning her inheritance (grandfather's rambling mansion, Ravenswood-by-the-Sea), into a Bed & Breakfast. The family is meeting at Ravenswood and Mary has to face her difficult cousins as they discuss the family businesses - including her plans. One cousin has always been a problem, Pamela, who runs the family's successful fashion magazine. Pamela is vocal in her opposition to the family estate being turned into a B&B.
Nell and Birdie stumble upon Pamela's body in the snow outside Ravenswood in what appears to be a suicide. But it is determined a homicide by the police. The Painter at Ravenswood, who was known to be cavorting with Pamela trying to get a modeling job at the magazine, starts spending a lot of money until he meets a fatal accident.
A subplot of elderly neighbor who is passionate about keeping Ravenswood from becoming a B&B has the knitters puzzled and provides an added little puzzle which has a surprising answer. Nell and the Seaside Knitters suspect the painter's death was no accident and the same hand that took Pamela's life was involved. The four friends get serious about tracking down who had a motive to kill twice between shopping and their knit-a-square charity project.
The instant I started reading the book I felt at home again. I realized that I enjoy Ms. Goldenbaum's writing style. It fits me like a favorite sweater or a comfy sweat shirt. IMHO she excels at putting the reader in the moment of the story completely, melding setting of a small coastal town and the character Nell effortlessly. I just know if there were a Nell Endicott I would love to be her friend.
The rest of the Seaside Knitters are well defined and enjoyable, they add to Nell and make the experience flavorful. In this installment of the series I felt that I got to know Nell's husband Ben a bit better and their relationship is so positive and supportive - I enjoy his character almost as much as Nell anymore.
The plot was solid and clues deftly sprinkled about. I just barely figured out the murderer before Nell - and even the killer is finely portrayed and plausible. The climax flowed from the rest of the book to a natural conclusion and the wrap up was pleasantly satisfying. If you enjoy a mystery that is equally about an interesting group of friends, a great setting, a murder to work out and well written to boot, then I highly recommend this series.
One final note on A Holiday Yarn that I felt was a great touch and I want to spotlight. There is a charity knitting project featured in the book that really exists. The KasCare project where you can knit (or crochet) a square for AIDS children of South Africa. Many of these children are orphaned and each square is put with others to create blankets for these children. This started as a family project by the McDonald family of Australia. If you knit or crochet (or know somebody who does, pass this along) this might be an great holiday inspirational activity. Since it is a square at a time it is a small commitment and can be a group project and great for getting the family involved. For more information go here: http://www.knit-a-square.com/
And now for a special treat to warm you up this holiday season.
Hot Buttered Rum Mix
* 1 lb unsalted butter, softened
* 1 (16 ounce) package confectioners' sugar, sifted
* 1/2 lb light brown sugar, packed
* 1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
* 1 Tbls nutmeg
* 1 Tbls cinnamon
* 1 Tbls cloves
1. In a large bowl cream the butter and the sugars and spices together until smooth. Add the softened ice cream and mix until a creamy consistency is obtained. Transfer this to a freezer container with a tight fitting lid. Place in the freezer for up to 1 month.
2. To Serve: Place a heaping 2 tablespoons of the frozen mix in a highball glass or coffee mug. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons dark rum - or to taste. Pour over the mix 6 ounces of boiling water and stir until the mixture is melted. Sprinkle top with cinnamon or nutmeg and serve forth!
Helpful Suggestion: Freeze the mix into ice cube trays. Spray the trays well with unflavored cooking spray (don't use butter flavored) and spoon in the mix. When they are frozen solid, drop the "cubes" into a heavy duty zipper top bag and store in the freezer. Eliminates the mess of scoops and drips, and adjust the number of cubes in your drink based on the size of your trays. Dishwasher your trays in very hot water to remove the spray, or put them in the sink and poor boiling water over them.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: I will be traveling for the holidays. I am trying to line up some guest blogs in advance. There may only be one post during the week of Christmas and New Years and the Blog Carnival will be the second Monday in January to allow me time to get back into the swing of things. I will try to share some photos when I get back from Paris - not Texas either!!