YARN TO GO:
A Yarn Retreat Mystery (Book #1)
By Betty Hechtman
Berkley Prime Crime, 2013 ($7.99)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Casey Feldman has drifted from one school to another, started and quit job after job, not able to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. She's tried law school, teaching, even worked for a private detective, but nothing seems right. Her parents, both physicians, love and support her, but wish she would settle down — preferably with the nice urologist they've hand-picked for her.
When her aunt dies in a hit and run accident, leaving Casey her home and business, Yarn2Go, she sees it as a chance to take a break from the family pressures in Chicago and regroup. She moves into Aunt Joan's guesthouse in the charming northern California town of Cadbury by the Sea, supporting herself by baking desserts for a local restaurant. Baking is one thing she does enjoy, and she is very good at it. The restaurant owners, Tag and Lucinda, were friends of her aunt, and become her friends as well.
Three months into her stay, Casey is dismayed to learn that Aunt Joan had scheduled a knitting retreat at a nearby resort and conference center. It's too late to cancel, and there's no money to refund the participants anyway. Casey doesn't know one end of a knitting needle from another, but Lucinda, who has attended Joan's previous retreats, convinces her that everything is taken care of, and all she needs to do is oversee the group.
During the first session, Casey is afraid she's bitten off more than she can chew. The group, consisting of a squabbling mother-daughter duo, a chatterbox nosey-parker, an anxious mom who's never been away from her kids, a man who's a closet knitter, and a sullen woman who seems to be there against her will, seem unhappy with her leadership skills and with each other. Can things get worse? Indeed they can. One of the group is murdered, and the evidence points at her.
The rumpled, gruff homicide detective in charge of the case tells the group not to leave town, so Casey struggles on with the retreat. She also calls her old private detective boss for advice in how to clear her name and find the real killer, and attempts to pry details of the case out of her neighbor, a hunky cop who parties hard every night.
This is the first in the Yarn Retreat Mystery series, and it's a winner. Casey is a flawed but funny heroine, with hidden resources and talents she's just beginning to discover. The lovely town of Cadbury by the Sea, with its beauty and charm and intriguing inhabitants, is a place I want to visit again and again. The author also writes the popular Crochet Mysteries series.
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