Yarn to Go is the first in a new series of knitting-themed mysteries. But readers needn’t be knitters or craft-oriented to enjoy this fun “cozy” book by Betty Hechtman.
Set in the tiny fictional town of Cadbury by the Sea on California’s Monterey Peninsula, its main character is dessert chef Casey Feldstein, who works at the Blue Door Restaurant and makes muffins after hours to sell to local small businesses.
She’s dabbled in various jobs in the past, never finding the right career fit and moving on to something else. Her over-achieving parents and ex-boyfriend Sammy (all doctors) have disapproved of her lack of career commitment. But baking seems to be her niche, at least for now.
She has moved to Cadbury from Chicago under sad circumstances: her aunt Joan passed away in a hit-and-run accident that Casey suspects was no accident. Joan left everything to Casey. The inheritance includes a yarn business, Yarn2Go. It was a passion of Joan’s but something Casey knows nothing about.
Yarn2Go held “yarn retreats” where knitters from all over gathered to relax and perfect their craft. It seems a retreat is planned soon and Casey has not been able to cancel it. She attempts, with the help of knitting expert teacher Kris Garland, to pull off the weekend event as best she can.
Her involvement meets with resistance from Kevin St. John, the manager of the Vista Del Mar Lodge where the retreat is held. He has his own agenda and pressures Casey to turn over the retreat business to him, turning hostile when she does not.
He attempts to scare her off by revealing that during the last retreat, a member, Amanda Proctor, mysteriously fell to her death while walking the nearby cliffs.
Seeing the unlikely setting of the accident, warning bells go off in Casey’s head. To help support herself in Chicago, she’d held a temp position with a private investigator and found she had a knack for digging into mysteries. She now has two on her hands – her aunt’s passing, and the death of a former retreat member.
As the first evening of the new retreat winds down, an outspoken member of the group is murdered, knitting needles stuck into her chest. Everyone is held for questioning and the retreat must go on. Casey’s quietly on the case, performing her amateur investigation with the help of her former private investigator boss Frank, who offers suggestions by phone. Lucinda Thornkill, wife of the Blue Door Restaurant owner, has become Casey’s friend and helps with the sleuthing. Curmudgeonly police Lietenant Borgnine resents the women attempting to help, so they decide to work on their own.
There’s one other policeman in town that Casey is aware of. He’s her handsome, cocky neighbor Dane. She’s intrigued by him but put off by the constant stream of unusual parties he seems to throw.
In the midst of it all, Casey’s parents and ex-boyfriend come to town to dangle a trip to a Paris cooking school and then a return to Chicago in front of her.
Tempting…but then it hits her – she has never finished anything in her life. She’s never put down serious roots or committed to anything. But she loves Cadbury by the Sea, baking, and surprisingly, running the yarn retreat. She even adopts a stray cat.
This sets up the premise for future books, which should be murderous fun for readers. There’s the promise of romance from more than one source as well. As an added bonus, the author includes a simple yarn project and delicious muffin recipe at the back of the book.
Betty Hechtman’s crochet mysteries produced a successful series of seven books. It seems likely, if Yarn to Go is any indication, that her new knitting series might enjoy the same longevity.
Published simultaneously at www.bookpleasures.com.