Knot of This World
A Quilting Mystery, Book #8
By Mary Marks
Author Website: marymarksmysteries(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Quilter Martha Rose must patch together the clues to solve the murder of a cult leader in the California mountains . . .
Has Martha’s fellow quilter and dear friend Birdie Watson become unraveled? Birdie and her new husband have decided to join the Mystical Feather Society, a spiritist group living on a commune in the mountains of Ojai, California. Before her free-spirited friend makes a huge mistake, Martha organizes a surprise visit to check out the commune. While white-robed members conduct a seance in a glass yurt, their leader–Royal St. Germain–is nowhere to be found . . . until, that is, Martha and her friends discover him shot in their Winnebago. Now Martha must track down the killer and debunk the cult–before it’s bye bye Birdie . . .
I really enjoyed seeing Martha Rose and her Quilty Tuesdays group of close friends and her stepsister. The characters are a wonderful group of caring, close friends and family, and the setting at first seems to be a peaceful place to go to for a retreat. The darkness lurking in the background, however, leads into mysteries for which no easy solution could be found. There are quilting tips throughout that, even if one is not a quilter, are interesting.
Birdie and her new husband, Denver, returned from wintering in Arizona; arriving for the Tuesday quilting group was a welcome surprise for Martha and the other quilters. Birdie and Denver are retired, in their 70’s, and had a most enlightening experience on the spring equinox in Sedona, Arizona. Birdie has always had an interest in psychic phenomenon. She announced that as soon as she and Denver sell his ranch and their homes, they will move to Mystical Feather, a commune in Ojai, California. Of course, that will require giving all the proceeds of their worldly goods into the Trust that the Society has and being cared for by them for the rest of their lives.
Very concerned about the situation, the group members tried to learn what they could from Birdie. Lucy, Martha’s best friend, and Giselle, Martha’s sister, were especially concerned. Martha asked her fiancé, Crusher, an ATF agent, to see if his friends in the FBI might know anything about Mystical Feather or Royal St. Germain. She also talked with Paulina, a friend who was a medium. While there were few definite answers, they did learn enough to raise their concerns to Birdie and Denver.
Mystical Feather had been started as a retreat by Madame Natasha St. Germain, a medium who had a large following and died suddenly in 1975. Her son Royal took over the retreat, eventually turning it into a commune for preferably wealthy people to spend the rest of their lives. There was suspicion regarding people who disappeared, rumored to have been murdered.
To ease their minds, Martha and Lucy talked Birdie and Denver into visiting the commune before selling everything. They had only met Royal St. Germain when they were in Sedona. The four of them would go to Winnebago on Saturday. Paulina and her friend Michael volunteered to go with them, as they might know good questions to ask due to their psychic abilities.
Martha, Lucy, and Paulina planned to ask questions of the people living there and find Royal St. Germain to learn what they could about the commune. The only people they could find were in a séance in the dining hall, which they couldn’t interrupt. Michael and Paulina went to look around the property to see who they could find, and while they were gone, the other four heard what sounded like gunshots. Paulina and Michael were unable to find anyone, so they were going to town for lunch. When they got back to the Winnebago, they found Royal St. Germain. He was dead, shot in the couple’s motorhome.
The characters are very well defined. I enjoyed the variety of backgrounds and age groups, a handful in their twenties and the majority in their 50’s or older. Each has their unique attire and grooming styles, from Giselle’s ultra-wealthy power clothing that meets her career as a corporate CEO to Birdie’s trademark Birkenstock sandals. I liked the easy camaraderie between the friends and even Giselle’s somewhat tactless manner of speaking. I also enjoyed seeing Uncle Isaac again.
The plot builds throughout, providing multiple clues and suspects. The premise itself is thought-provoking. Martha’s experience of helping with other murders gives her some knowledge of how to ask questions in such a way as to get the answers needed, but the sheriff’s department in Ojai was not enamored of her help. There is interesting background on Martha’s family and Sabbath traditions that rounded out her life. I thought I had a good idea who was involved in St. Germain’s murder and other situations at the retreat, but was still very surprised at the ending. I highly recommend this, especially if one enjoys quilting, quilting tips, and cozy mysteries.