Knit Your Own Murder
A Needlecraft Mystery, Book #19
By Monica Ferris
Author’s website: www.monica-ferris.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In the USA Today bestselling Needlecraft Mysteries, Betsy Devonshire has her hands tied between running her needlework shop and turning her sharp eye for deduction to solve a knotty murder at a local fund-raiser…
The Monday Bunch and other local knitters are participating in a fund-raising auction to save a community center, creating a growing pile of stuffed animals and toys right in front of the auctioneers as the audience bids. Among those contributing the most knitted goods is temperamental businesswoman Maddy O’Leary–who keels over halfway through the event.
After she is pronounced DOA, an autopsy reveals that Maddy had been poisoned. But how? And by whom? One of the prime suspects is her ruthless business rival, Joe Mickels, who lost a bitterly contested property bid to Maddy.
When Mickels pleads his innocence to Betsy, she reluctantly believes him. But if Betsy is going to uncover the real murderer’s identity, she must first untangle the knots Maddy made in her relationships throughout her life.
This is a remarkable novel, with excellent plotting and so intriguing that it was hard to put down! Monica Ferris has outdone herself with Knit Your Own Murder, 19th in the Needlecraft Mystery series. If one has read others in the series or if it is the first one, the author shows the readers about the characters simply and sufficiently so even the first time reader feels part or the Monday Bunch.
Harry Whiteside, a shrewd local businessman, Maddy O’Leary, an equally shrewd and sharp-tongued businesswoman, and Joe Mickels, an elderly man who has dreamt for many years of having a Mickels building in Excelsior are the top three bidders on a coveted parcel of land. They bid against each other, driving the others’ bids up, until Maddy finally wins the parcel, Joe is deeply disappointed, but could his disappointment lead to murder? Harry, the second high bidder who contributed to increasing the final bid amount, is found murdered. It was thought he entered his luxurious home and caught vandals in the act of doing damage and was murdered as a result.
The Monday Bunch and a few regular customers of Betsy’s at Crewel World have been knitting animals for a benefit auction. Some are amazingly detailed, with one being a huge and very detailed rendition of a local artisan’s idea of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwock. Maddy O’Leary is an avid knitter, contributing more than anyone else but doesn’t want others to know. At the auction, she and other top contributors were seated at a table in front, each with yarn and needles of their choice from Crewel World, beginning to knit a new project on their special selected yarn. Maddy suddenly and mysteriously died while knitting during the auction.
Joe is the only man left, and it isn’t certain who the property will go to – Maddy’s heir(s) or a winner of a whole new bid. Joe is the primary suspect in the murders, as he has motive, but whether he has both means and opportunity are yet to be seen. A proud man, it is no small fete for him to come to Betsy, who has helped solve many murders in their area. He is seeking her help to stay out of prison orange – and if the murders are related to the property, before his is the next memorial service conducted in the Lake Minnetonka area.
Betsy begins doing what she does best – along with running the shop and being friend and sounding board to many in the area. She studies the situations as revealed, asking hard questions, even of Harry’s sons and Chaz, son of a fellow knitter, who worked for Maddy for years, learning the business from the ground up. In the meantime, Godwin, the store manager, has been proposed to by his partner, and what should be a joyous time comes crashing down as his partner’s sister arrives from Europe on behalf of their family, demanding that he take a wife and have a male heir.
Many of the characters are complex; if there were a privately-owned yarn crafts store near me with some of the personalities of those at Crewel World, I might consider being part of a “Monday bunch”, too! Godwin is such a hoot! Having him and two men (Betsy’s sweetheart Connor, and the husband of a woman there) make the group interesting and fun. It is easy to picture several of those more prominently defined, contributing to the novel coming to life.
What also brings Knit Your Own Murder to life is the mystery itself. There are a couple red herrings brought to the surface. Betsy’s recall for local events helps raise some necessary questions, but the police are not – even after all this time – receptive to her ideas. While I considered a scenario similar to how the mystery resolves, but was missing the opportunity in one case and the means in another. The author is well ahead of this reader, gracing us with a finished product without loose fibers or missed stitches. The resolution of the murders still was a surprise as Betsy finally found evidence and opportunity pointing to the bad guy/ gal. I highly recommend this novel to those who enjoy well-written cozy mysteries with interesting, likable characters centered around needlework and friendship.