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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review - A Fatal Fleece

I am a fan of this series and have reviewed the last few releases before this one: Holiday Yarn (click here) and The Wedding Shawl (click here).  I was also fortunate to have interviewed the author as well (click here.)  This is the perfect book to get us into a summer, sand, and surf mindset.

Author:  Sally Goldenbaum

Copyright:  May 2012 (NAL) 336 pgs

Series:  6th in Seaside Knitters Mysteries

Sensuality:  mild references

Mystery Sub-genre:  Cozy

Main Character:  Nell Endicott

Setting:  Modern day, Sea Harbor, Massachusetts

Obtained Through:  publisher for an honest review

Let me introduce you to the seaside knitters:
Nell Endicott: the motherly spirit of the group.
Birdie Favazza: the spirited elder who is hard to keep up with.
Cass(andra) Halloran: the lobster-woman with a gentle heart - truly a rough diamond.
Izzy Perry: Nell's niece who owns the knit shop.

The town eccentric is a curmudgeonly old geezer, Finnegan, whose prime waterfront land has vultures circling in the form of developers, city council members, and an estranged daughter.  Finnegan does have some steadfast friends, such as seaside knitter and lobster woman extraordinaire Cass and Birdie's recently revealed "lovechild" granddaughter who is visiting.  Cass is bringing her cranky old friend a meal, when she stumbles upon his murdered body and becomes a suspect.

There are a few subplots going on as well as the main mystery of who murdered Finnegan.  There is Birdie's granddaughter Gabriel, or Gabby as the whole town calls her.  This precocious ten year old quickly works her way into the seaside knitter's hearts.  There is also Gabby's uncle, Birdie's deceased husband's brother, who is definitely hiding something and has lied to the gals.  Then there is Cassandra, whose lobster business is slowly drowning while she seems to be sabotaging her relationship with her beau, a popular author.  Finally, there is the thread of Finnegan's long estranged daughter who has returned to the area and seems to be conducting a clandestine affair.  All these are woven together for a tightly knit tableau.

This series always delivers and this time around is another great seaside murder mystery.  The Sea Harbor location is vividly and lovingly animated with people, places and history that envelope the reader.  This mountain born-and-raised gal loves Sea Harbor. 

The Seaside knitters are finely characterized, along with their relationships to each other and spouses.  This is not just for women necessarily, because the relationships with their men are wonderfully portrayed as well.  It is the interweaving of friendships, male and female, that is faithfully rendered in these books. 

The plot has its layers and red herrings, as Nell peels away the deceptions, looking into what happened to Finnegan.  There are subtle clues dropped that, like any good mystery, if you look back, you put them together.  As I have noted before, if there were a real life amateur sleuth, this is how it would look.  Nell talks to people in a natural neighborly way, like a curious person concerned about her neighbors and town.  That dynamic flows easily and works with the entire feel of the Sea Harbor experience.  There is no drama over her talking to neighbors, there is no conflict with the local police when she asks around, there is no conflict with her husband over investigating.  I LOVE THAT.  The conflict in the stories is about what murder does to the town and the people, and the dynamics of personal interactions.

This is a classic cozy, no rushing through the story, but actually experiencing the town and people over a few weeks, as the seaside knitter's investigation progresses.  That is why the first pages are a guide to the town's people that are regulars, so you can jump right into this sea side world.  Take a true break and spend some time in these well crafted mysteries.  Yes, I am a fan - I warned you.

Here is a recipe for a quick and easy Crab Bisque.

1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 quart prepared creamy tomato soup
cayenne to taste
8-oz tub lump crab-meat
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

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Dalene @ A Date with a Book said...

Always looking for a new cozy series favorite. Thanks for sharing :)

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