Hounds of the Basket Stitch
Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries #11
By Anne Canadeo
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
The Black Sheep Knitters come to the aid of two sisters–one a victim and one a suspect . . .
Maggie Messina knows that knitting is not only enjoyable, it also calms both the mind and soul. She’s happy to visit two sisters, Holly and Rose Piper, and teach them some simple stitches, while the rest of the Black Sheep knitters tag along. Dana Haeger has known the young women since they were children and is the closest thing to family the Pipers now have. Dana is especially concerned about Rose, who has been easily overwhelmed ever since a car accident many years ago. She is at her best managing the houseful of hounds that she rescues and shelters, while Holly runs the family nursery and remains devoted to Rose’s care. The lesson goes well, but the knitters are troubled about the sisters living alone in such a remote corner of Plum Harbor.
Their worst fears are realized when Holly is attacked in her greenhouse and the building set ablaze. Rose is found unconscious nearby, her dogs running wild. When she wakes, her memory is blank. Holly is hospitalized and unable to offer even a clue. The Black Sheep suspect a mysterious drifter who had talked his way into a few days of wages, and just as quickly, disappeared. Or was it their estranged half-brother, Toby, full of family grievances and eager to make a claim on the estate? Or, heaven forbid . . . was it Rose? Hovering over all these questions like an ominous shadow is a dark secret from the sisters’ past.
While it seems everything is unraveling, the knitters will need to keep their wits as sharp as their needles to prove Rose’s innocence and stop a killer from striking again. (from Goodreads)
This fast-paced mystery drew me in from the beginning and held my attention throughout. I enjoyed seeing Maggie and her group of Black Sheep Knitters again and getting to know Holly and Rose. They are sweetly engaging and lovable even through the life changes they face. The mystery is intriguing, and I admit that I did not figure out who the bad guy was before being revealed.
Maggie opened her yarn shop several years ago after her husband passed away. She is an expert businesswoman, and knitter. She has helped solve several mysteries over the years, even though it brought challenges in her relationship with now-retired detective, Charles. She is an excellent friend to many. One of those is Dana, a therapist who is getting additional certification by learning/ working at a special center with innovative treatments for those with traumatic brain injuries.
Dana invites her goddaughter, Holly, and her younger sister, Rose, to attend their knitting class. Rose and Holly were in a car accident in Holly’s boyfriend’s car 15 years earlier, and Rose suffered a brain injury that presents many challenges. Rose is as mature as if she were about 14. Since taking part of treatments at the new clinic and taking in rescue dogs to care for and put up for adoption, she has become more responsible.
Instead of going to college, Holly stayed home to help with Rose’s care. She learned how to run the nursery her parents owned and, when they died, kept it going. It is thought that learning to knit could have a positive effect on Rose, but one of her hounds recently had 8 puppies and is now sick, so she didn’t want to leave the it alone. The Thursday evening class goes to their home, bringing dinner and supplies. They meet all of Rose’s hounds, including the mother and its adorable pups.
Shortly before ending the evening, a strange older man pounded on the sisters’ door. He had slid into and knocked down part of their fence and offered to return in the morning to repair it. Nobody recognized him; they decided that if she wanted the fence repaired, Holly would call him. Holly texted him the following morning that they wouldn’t need his help, but it was too late – Carl Thornton was already putting the fence back up. She let him work through the day to help get rid of the downed limbs from the prior night’s storm. Since he is familiar with nurseries and horticulture, Holly hired him to help her with some things as it is soon time to bring in the seasonal workers.
Several days later, Carl told Holly he could only work through the end of that day. Later that night, someone attacked Holly in the greenhouse and set it on fire. Hospitalized with smoke inhalation, Holly would be sedated and on a breathing device for a few days. Rose wasn’t injured but can’t remember what happened. The police discover gasoline splashed on her clothing as well as used to start the fire. The detective in charge of the investigation considers the possibility that Rose set the fire. But why?
The characters are as well-defined as necessary for their roles; I enjoyed seeing how Susan and Maggie’s lives have changed since the last in series. I very much liked getting to know Holly and Rose and getting to know Dana better. Especially with the secrets Holly has tucked away for so long, I admire her care for her sister. Toby, the sisters’ older half-brother, is definitely one of my least favorite characters.
There are many things I enjoyed in this mystery, including reading about finger knitting, which I might look at. I appreciated reading about some of the things that people with serious brain injuries endure; it is written about with sensitivity and it is interesting how new treatments are developed. Using Rose’s challenges while using knitting and her care for/ training of rescue dogs for pets or for caring dogs within the boundaries of the mystery also kept my attention. The mystery itself included red herrings that I followed, and was quite surprised to learn who the bad guy really was. Especially to those who are fans of well-executed cozy mysteries and yarn arts, I highly recommend this novel!