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Silent Knit, Deadly Knit
by Peggy Ehrhart
Various cozy mystery series stand out for special strengths. The strong point might be humor, breathtaking setting, fast pace, intricate plot, or interesting characters. Peggy Ehrhart’s Knit & Nibble Mystery Series is different from most in its genre. The main character, Pamela, is calmer. The pace is slower. The descriptions of everyday life are more detailed. And somehow the combination works. Ehrhart’s latest mystery, Silent Knit, Deadly Knit, is no exception. Set in the Christmas season, we get to join Pamela, her daughter Penny who is home from college, and their friends and neighbors as they celebrate the Christmas season while trying to discover who murdered their friend.
Silent Knit, Deadly Knit provides a nice break from the overly sweet seasonal romances. The characters are not depicted as saints. Pamela struggles with letting her daughter gain her independence. Bettina pushes her friend Pamela to make a connection with a single neighbor. The plot does not get lost in all the character interaction, however. There are deadly doings in little Arborville, and Pamela and her friends are caught up in the action. My favorite character is Bettina’s retired husband, Wilfred—always a helpful gentleman, but never stuffy.
As the crime is being solved, Pamela and the reader work through various theories. When the character who appears to be the murderer is found murdered, the investigation takes a whole new direction resulting in a surprise ending.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. #4 in the Knit & Nibble Mystery Series, but is excellent as a standalone!
2. At the end of the book, there is a recipe for a poppy seed cake and directions for knitting fingerless gloves.
Publication: October 29, 2019—Kensington Books
A soft form stirred at her feet, migrated up the side of her leg, and inched its way delicately across her torso. It eased its head out from under the down comforter that Pamela used on chilly winter nights. Two amber eyes stared at her from a heart-shaped face covered with silky jet-black fur.
Pamela was a kind person, but she occasionally enjoyed the slight feeling of power that came from having a secret to share. Bettina’s lips, which today were a shade of deep orange that matched her coat, curved into a tiny smile that acknowledged she knew she was being strung along.
It was tempting, especially at holidays, to imagine a past in which joy had been unalloyed. But Pamela knew she’d been happy about some things, worried about others then too, just like now.
Staging is Murder
Laura Bishop has quit her boring IT job, but still has debts to pay off from her mother’s illness and funeral. She has allowed herself one year to make a success of a new staging business, helping people prepare their homes to look their best for resale. Her friend Nita, whose large Italian family “adopted” Laura years ago, is the “Lucy” to Laura’s “Ethel” as they try to solve a murder and free Tyrone, Laura’s assistant in the business. There are lots of suspects, and my heart was in my throat when Laura decided to confide in one of them as I felt sure he was the murderer. Was he? Why did someone want Laura to stop investigating? Will she be able to discover the murderer before he or she strikes again? Grace Topping’s Staging is Murder is a good start to a new cozy mystery series. Read it to answer all these questions and to learn if her first staging job is a success or a flop.
I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. #! in the Laura Bishop Mystery Series
2. Staging tips are included in each chapter.
Publication: April 30, 2019—Henery Press
Also, trying to find the time to help him while meeting my staging deadline was creating havoc with my stress level. I needed physical activity. Either that or lots of chocolate.
I wasn’t cut out to be Nancy Drew. With nerves like mine, I couldn’t sit comfortably through a scary movie much less play detective in real life.
“Here, I brought you a Snickers—the staff of life.”
Death and a Pot of Chowder
by Cornelia Kidd
I know very little about Maine—small, cold, and famous for lobsters. All of that information is verified in Death and a Pot of Chowder, but I absorbed so much more about Maine by reading this cozy mystery by Cornelia Kidd. The characters are very interesting, especially the likable main character Anna Winslow. Having lost her job when her stepfather died, she is a stay-at-home mom to fourteen year old Jake and wife to Burt, a lobsterman. She enjoys her quiet life until she finds herself thrown in the middle of a murder investigation to clear Burt of charges at the same time she discovers she has a half-sister Ozzie, a young, ambitious, and talented chef.
I enjoyed the community of Quarry Island and references to Anne of Green Gables. I can identify with Anna turning to chocolate in times of stress! As an educator, I appreciate that the students on the island are cocooned a little as they attend school there through junior high and only travel to the mainland for high school. In such a setting I can conceive of the freedoms Jake and his friend Matt enjoy to roam the island.
The characters are not goody two-shoes, but most do have appeal as direct people who care about their neighbors. Anna is a strong woman, but also a woman who is willing to expand outside her current boundaries. She is open to new challenges and new relationships. I did wonder about her ties with her “stepfather” Seth. She was raised from birth as his child, but when she discovers that he is not her biological father, she never calls him “dad” again. Although I understand many children long for a relationship with their biological parents, it seems cold and out of character for her to emotionally discard him. As she was working for him as an office manager at the time of his death, I assume he did not respond by cutting ties with her. This is an interesting, but disappointing, twist to the story.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. # 1 in the Maine Murder Mystery Series.
2. Recipes are found in the back of the book.
3. As Izzie is interested in historical cookbooks, each chapter starts with a quote from a cookbook which also includes tips for managing a household.
Publication: June 12, 2018—Crooked Lane Books
People joked that islanders had salt water in their veins. We were different, separate, and wary of off-islanders who commented on the beauty of the island, wondered at our isolation, and then left.
But first I was going to eat chocolate. If ever there was a day for chocolate, this was it.
I’d been like a mussel, glued to the rocks I’d always clung to. Now, everything had changed. I’d been tossed into the waves to survive. Would I find a new rock to cling to? Or be found by a laughing gull and dropped onto a ledge, smashed, and devoured.