A Fatal Fleece: A Seaside Knitters Mystery
by Sally Goldenbaum
Cover Artist: Doug Martin
Review by Gayle Surrette
NAL Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451236753
Date: 01 May 2012 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
It's summer time, and Izzy Chamber's Seaside Knitters Studio is awash in bright fibers just right for knitting in warm weather. Izzy is still glowing from her recent wedding to Sam Perry -- so I guess I need to get used to writing Izzy Perry now.
Sea Harbor, Massachusetts is gearing up for tourist season. The economy hasn't been good and many people are suffering in one way or another. Lobsterwoman Cass Halloran is worried about her business. Her boat is getting older and needs more repairs than she can afford and the competition at sea is getting brutal. She's afraid she may lose her business and she's too proud to ask for help.
Many in the town feel that things could be turned around if the prime real estate on the beach side of the road below artist alley was developed and made more enticing to the tourists. Finnegan, a crusty old fisherman who owns the land and lives in a dilapidated building tucked back behind the weeds and rusty fence, refuses to sell. Tensions are rising with the heat, when Cass who is worried about Finnegan and often brings him meals, finds his body pushed into the wet mud in his driveway -- she wouldn't have spotted him but he was wearing the yellow vest she'd made for him.
Meanwhile, Birdie had been unexpected contacted by her late husband's brother and he asked to stop by and visit. He showed up with Gabrielle Marietti, Birdie's ten-year-old granddaughter that she didn't even know she had. Gabby quickly becomes an integral part of Birdie's social group of knitters as well as Birdie's household. Gabby maybe young but she's one of those people who can deal with adults and other young people equally well. She's even become close friends with Finnegan, who seldom lets anyone get close to him.
When Finnegan is killed everyone one is shocked. While he was often brutally honest, cantankerous, and ornery -- he was also a person who lived to perform acts of kindness and shared his knowledge with those wise enough to listen. So, imagine the feelings of the Seaside Knitters when Cass becomes the main suspect.
As per usual, Goldenbaum pulls in the reader with her simple but layered narrative, that manages to put all the clues out there but with enough misdirection to keep you reading and guessing to the denouement. Astute readers may guess who the murderer is, but it's the journey and the people you take it with that make the Seaside Knitter Mysteries so compelling. It's not just the mystery, but visiting people you enjoy spending time with, even when they only exist between the pages of a book.
Some lives will be disrupted and others will be changed forever and others will learn to accept help and support from friends. A very satisfying entry in the series.
Note: A Fatal Fleece has a Cast of Characters that lists all the main characters and their various relationships to each other. For a series with a large cast this is very helpful in jogging the memory of readers since there's usual at least a year between books.