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By Sally Goldenbaum

Obsidian, 2011 ($24.95)

ISBN-10: 0451233190
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-23319-6
Kindle eBook: $11.99

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

At the regular meeting of the Seaside Knitters at the local bookstore in Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, mystery author Danny Brandley discusses his work while the group members listen and knit. Brandley tells the group that, like most writers, he gets his inspiration from real life. He is especially interested in taking cold cases and building fictionalized stories around them. He gives an example: fifteen years ago, Harmony Farrow, a recent high school graduate, drowned in the Cape Ann quarry under suspicious circumstances. In the end, the police decided Harmony's death was either a tragic accident or suicide, and the case was closed. Brandley asks the audience to come up with possible scenarios for what might have happened, and the knitters have a grand time coming up with alternative versions of the girl's death. One woman, who was upstairs when the meeting began, huddles out of sight. She is not at all happy to hear Harmony's name. After the talk is over, she rushes out of the store without a word to anyone.

Izzy Chambers is getting married in a few weeks, and her friends are knitting a special gift for her, a magical, lacy wedding shawl. Izzy's Aunt Nell is coordinating the wedding plans, and the ceremony is to be held in her garden. Claire Russell, who recently moved to Sea Harbor, has a green thumb, and Nell has asked her to turn the garden into a setting worthy of the beautiful bride. Claire is reticent to talk about her life, past or present, but Nell can see she is lonely, and she does her best to help her. She even lets Claire stay in her guest cottage until an apartment becomes available. They form a tentative friendship, but Nell knows that Claire is deeply depressed, and that she is keeping a painful secret.

Tiffany Ciccolo, who is the hair stylist for the ladies in the wedding party, was a close friend of Harmony's, as was Andy Risso. In fact, Andy was in love with Harmony. The Seaside Knitters, inspired by Brandley's talk, continue to discuss what really happened to the girl while working on Izzy's shawl. Tiffany and Andy understandably don't want to talk about it. When someone close to the case disappears, and another is murdered, the police believe there is a connection with Harmony's death, and they reopen the cold case.

This is the fifth in the Seaside Knitters mystery series. Even non-knitters will enjoy the description of the beautiful shawl as it progresses to its final glory. The close bonds that bind the knitting group and their friends and family, and their love for Izzy, is heartwarming. The plot is intricate, and the description of life in the small New England town is vivid and believable. The shawl ties everything together in an intriguing way. I highly recommend this book and the series.

The paperback edition of this title is scheduled for release in May, 2012.

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