And with each book, we become better friends.
Nell, Birdie, Izzy, and Cass—my friends, my characters, my alter egos. I know how these Sea Harbor women walk, what they eat, how much they weigh, where they went to school, and the first time they had sex. I even know what number they are on the Enneagram chart. They are my ‘stars’ and my muses, my friends.
But often, way too often, I haven’t a clue what they are going to do next—probably just like your own best friend.
And that’s good….and difficult.
Before I sit down to write a new seaside knitters mystery, I spend time talking to each of them, sharing a ‘seed’ of an idea with them—that tiny nugget that hopefully will grow into a book. And then I beg them to take me by the hand and lead me along to what comes next, toughen me up as we face the blank computer screen.
Sometimes they jump right in, like Izzy did in ANGORA ALIBI, (the 7th seaside mystery—the one that just came out in paperback). It took little time for her to share her feelings about pregnancy with me, feelings that moved her to take the actions she did—and that propelled all of her friends (and me, too) into a mytstery, a murder, and gradually the steps needed to solve it.
Or Cass Halloran in A FATAL FLEECE, who showed me she was vulnerable, and not just a crusty lobster fisherman. And Birdie—the 80-year-old matriarch who pulled a skeleton out of her closet in that book, one that changed her life forever. And one that none of us (especially me!) was expecting.
When I began writing the newest Seaside Mystery, MURDER IN MERINO, I was struck by the fact that I’ve known these fine women for over eight years now. They truly are BFFs. To each other. To me. And I hope to you, too.
But sometimes, just like happens in real life, they don’t seem to be around when I need them.
It happened when I began writing MURDER IN MERINO. They disappeared. It was as if they had taken a vacation without me and didn’t tell me where they were going.
But then one day, suddenly, they were back. Just in the nick of time to lead me around Sea Harbor, into the homes of their friends and neighbors. They introduced me to a new woman in town—a mysterious woman named Jules Ainsley. A woman they took under their wing, even though they weren’t too sure it was a wise thing to do.
And when they decided to explore her past—they took me by the hand and led me along with them. And they didn’t let go, even when it got all of us tangled up in the murder of a bartender—a dear man we were all fond of. But was the mysterious woman who had become involved in the knitters’ lives fond of him?
No one knew, not for sure. But my friends just kept leading me along, and at the end of the journey, they surprised me with what they found. The seed had grown into a plant. A book. Into Murder in Merino.
Yes, after all these years, these women still surprise me. And that’s a good thing. Surprising means they stay fresh, but not completely comfortable. New, but still old friends.
I hope that these friendships deepen with each book, and that their friendship with you deepens, too, so that you’ll keep coming back to sit with them on the deck on in the yarn shop, sharing a glass of wine, a bit of gossip, and secrets of Sea Harbor. I hope they stay fresh for you and for me, unique, but cherished and familiar.
Kind of like a good marriage or partnership.
Murder in Merino (Seaside Knitters Mystery - Book 8) by Sally Goldenbaum
Publication Date: 05/06/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: NAL Hardcover
Genre: Cozy Mystery
(Received for an honest review from NAL Hardcover)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound
Sally Goldenbaum on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads
Books in the series:
Seaside Knitters Mystery
1. Death by Cashmere
2. Patterns in the Sand
3. Moon Spiners
4. A Holiday Yarn
5. The Wedding Shawl
6. A Fatal Fleece
7. Angora Alibi
8. Murder in Merino
Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.
It’s autumn in Sea Harbor, and as the tourists leave, a mysterious guest arrives. When she’s implicated in a crime, the Seaside Knitters must quickly table their knitting project and search out a motif for murder.
Fall is usually a relaxing time in Sea Harbor, but it’s turning out to be a busy season for Izzy Chambers Perry. Not only is she helping the Seaside Knitters make a magnificent throw to celebrate the fortieth wedding anniversary of her aunt and uncle, but she and her husband are finally selling the cottage she lived in before she got married and had a darling baby girl. To Izzy’s surprise, newcomer Julia Ainsley seems determined to buy the home—although she’s never set foot inside.
But on the day of the open house, things take a dark turn. A body is uncovered in the cottage’s backyard. When the police find Julia’s name and phone number in the victim’s pocket, this slender thread of evidence makes her a person of interest. Soon the spotlight of suspicion widens to include old friends and town leaders as a tragic happening, long buried in the sleepy seaside town, is slowly brought to the surface.
Before the joyful anniversary celebration can be realized, the Seaside Knitters must work to unravel the real reason Julia Ainsley has come to their town—and the tangled and troubled ties from the past that bind friends and townsfolk together.
Sally Goldenbaum continues her highly popular Seaside Knitters series with Murder in Merino. Fans of the series have come to know and love the eclectic bunch of ladies who always seem to find themselves in the middle of another mystery. From Izzy, whose married and has a new baby to Nell who is getting ready to celebrate her 40th anniversary. There is something for everyone in this series including a fantastic seaside town that provides the perfect backdrop for some serious amateur sleuthing.
What I liked:
The Seaside Knitters series is one of my favorites. Sally Goldenbaum has a way of incorporating the setting so completely into her writing that it takes on the characteristics of a character in her stories. That isn't easily done, but when an author is able to create that feeling, it's sure to be a very atmospheric novel that will have readers thinking about it long after they've turned the last page. Murder in Merino is definitely that kind of book. I enjoyed the way that Goldenbaum made Sea Harbor come to life and how the sea was such a part of the town and it's inhabitants. I don't think this book or series would have been nearly as good set anywhere else. It makes me want to move to the coast.
Izzy isn't a typical cozy heroine by a long shot and to be honest when reading Goldenbaum's books I'm never completely sure which of the ladies is actually the main lead character. I think they all share the spotlight in different books, which makes this series very unique, because the view points shift and change with each new tale. Izzy is the main focus of this particular story. She has a husband and a beautiful baby and cottage she needs to get rid of and that is the catalyst for this novel. I like the fact that Goldenbaum gives Izzy a family as well as the amateur sleuth bug. It's unusual and gives the book an even homier feel than the setting and that's saying a lot.
When a body turns up in the backyard of the cottage, suspicion turns to a new face in Sea Harbor, a woman with no ties to the town, who is obsessive about buying Izzy's cottage. Jules is an outsider to this very close knit town and usually that's the kiss of death in most cozies, but not this time. I liked the fact that the outsider didn't become the victim, but a suspect. She provided a lot of angst and urgency in the book and it was interesting to watch each of the knitters try to rationalize her reasons for being there. It just gave the mystery an air of secrecy.
I also enjoyed that this novel has a story within a story feel. The story is about the current murder of a local, but it ties back to the history of Sea Harbor itself and a long buried secret that has been hidden for years. It not only gave the story a historical feel, but it provided some great info for long time readers of the series about the town itself. Sea Harbor is one of my all time favorite fictional towns and that was such a wonderful added bonus.
What I didn't like:
Sally Goldenbaum's books are always well written, the pacing is good, the characters are so deeply layered and have become like good friends throughout the series. But I felt like Jules needed a little more background. She didn't feel as fleshed out as some of Goldbaum's characters and that took a little bit away from the novel, but not much. This one was still pretty great.
I can't possibly give this one less than a 5 because it was a very good read. It had atmosphere, it had exceptional characters a good plot line. You can't ask for much more with a good cozy. I loved it!
Murder in Merino is available May 6th from your favorite bookseller. Pre-ordering is going on NOW!
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
Sally Goldenbaum is a sometime philosophy teacher, a knitter, and an editor, and the author of more than thirty novels. Sally became more serious about knitting with the birth of her first grandchild and the creation of the Seaside Knitters mystery series. Her fictional knitting friends are teaching her the intricacies of women’s friendship, the mysteries of small-town living, and the very best way to pick up dropped stitches on a lacy knit shawl.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Murder in Merino by Sally Goldenbaum.
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