A Tangled Yarn
A Yarn Retreat Mystery, Book #5
By Betty Hechtman
Author Website: bettyhechtman.com
Betty Hechtman knits up murder and mayhem in the latest in the national bestselling Yarn Retreat Mystery series.
Casey Feldstein has her hands full with preparations at the Vista Del Mar hotel on the scenic Monterey Peninsula as another yarn retreat begins. The retreaters will be thrown for a loop this time, learning the trendy art of arm knitting and finger crocheting.
But not everyone is enthusiastic about trying something new, and Casey is forced to come up with an alternative craft for her less adventurous pupils. Things go from worst to worsted when a travel writer from a neighboring retreat group is found dead in his room among a sea of feathers. When one of the owners of Vista Del Mar pleads for help, Casey gets hooked into the case and must unravel a delicate skein of secrets to catch a killer. (Goodreads)
A Tangled Yarn is the most fabulous novel to date in A Yarn Retreat Mystery. It is fifth in the series, and can easily be read as a standalone. Casey Feldstein is always a blast to visit! She says that she is no expert on yarn arts, but has been a quick study since inheriting the business from her aunt. A first-time pet owner, she has a most delightfully helpful black cat, Julius, and a quirky bunch of artistic friends in gorgeous Carmel-by-the-Sea. One can almost smell the ocean breeze and see the textured skies and native trees!
Casey has tried many careers in her young life, but nothing seemed a good fit for her until she moved to California. Her year-round job includes baking treats for local upscale eateries that sound so luscious, one could gain a pound or two just reading about them. She also plans and organizes yarn retreats, held at a nearby conference center. When you come to her yarn retreat, you join a group of people who are ready to learn something new in an environment that is unplugged – no cellphone reception, Wi-Fi, or television. You use a pay phone in the lobby if you need to make a call, and pick up your messages from a board by the phones.
You will meet Wanda and Crystal, who will teach the new yarn technique; they are available to help you learn the craft. There are also three helpers who attend every retreat. One of the helpers is a man who knits, and at this retreat he will help make comfortable the new guy on the retreat who also knits. This retreat, however, is a bit different for those who are used to traditional knitting and crocheting. The yarn arts are arm knitting and finger crocheting, and some of the traditional folks are out of their comfort zones.
Not only does Casey, with the suggestions of Wanda and Crystal, need to come up with new crafts on the spur of the moment, trouble is brewing in another area of the resort. Most of the conference center is filled with a writer’s retreat, and each writer feels they are sharing their beloved “baby” with their respective group leader and attendees. Someone didn’t take kindly to a critique, possibly, as a more prominent and opinionated seminar leaders, a travel writer, is found murdered.
Not just any leader, but the writer who Madelaine Delacorte, one of the owners of the conference center, shared conversation with on their flights back from Peru. Madeleine, for reasons of her own, can’t be involved as anyone who knows the late travel writer, and wants Casey to help find who the bad guy(s) might be. Casey, friends with one of the local police officers, has promised time and again to not get involved in investigations, only to unwittingly get caught up again. Meanwhile, there is a killer on the loose in the conference center where her retreat folks are staying.
Reading this novel is like visiting friends, due to Betty Hechtman, who has put together a great cast of mostly-loveable characters. Each is well defined and shown as their most unique selves, including good and not as good traits. I like Casey the best, and have grown to enjoy Madelaine, a lively lady in her 70’s who is enjoying freedom for the first time. In contrast is Madeleine’s sister, Cora, who continues to wear proper clothing and do only what was proper for ladies of wealth to do in a bygone era. Watching Casey skillfully handle such varied personalities in her groups, from the most helpful to the most needy, is like a course in gentle leadership.
The plot is filled with interesting twists that kept this reader on her toes! I continue to marvel at an author who can make any mystery fresh and new, with unique details and room for lots of laughter. I was impressed by little details that build upon each other throughout. This novel is evenly paced, holding my attention from beginning to end. Some people jog to clear their mind and solve problems, others might ride a bicycle, but Casey knits. And she knit up the perfect solution to the situations! While one of the bad guys isn’t a huge surprise, there is much more than simply a murder. That is what makes this a cozy mystery that I highly recommend, what makes it most enjoyable, is the layers of mystery. I was very satisfied with the conclusion. There is a special knitting pattern included at the end, and a mouth-watering new recipe that will appeal to many readers; I hope you will be on board for the next yarn retreat!