A FINELY KNIT MURDER by Sally Goldenbaum

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A Finely Knit Murder by Sally Goldenbaum
Seaside Knitters Mystery (Book 9)
NAL Hardcover
Pub date: May 5, 2015

Seaside Harbor Community Day School has changed a great deal under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Hartley. Most Sea Harbor residents are in favor of Dr. Hartley’s educational philosophy and management style, but not Blythe Westerland—an outspoken board member who seems determined to get the woman fired. As a result, when Blythe turns up on the edge of campus with her head bashed in, the police naturally focus their suspicion on Elizabeth. Nell Endicott and the other Seaside Knitters know the progressive headmistress is innocent, though, and are determined to prove it if it’s the last thing they do.

The world Sally Goldenbaum paints in A Finely Knit Murder—the ninth of her Seaside Knitters Mysteries—is not the one in which most of us live. Idyllic, insular, and timeless, Goldenbaum’s Sea Harbor feels more like a modern Brigadoon than an actual place. Almost to a one, the town’s residents are too polished and too privileged to be relatable; even the fishermen have a Boston-Brahmin air about them. And Goldenbaum’s protagonist, Nell Endicott, is too starry-eyed and melodramatic to thrive outside of fiction.

That’s not to say Goldenbaum’s latest isn’t an enjoyable read, though. A Finely Knit Murder may not be set in our reality, but the world in which it does take place is both vividly sketched and exceedingly pleasant—a great place in which to pass a literary vacation. Goldenbaum’s core mystery is a solid one, with cleverly placed clues and no shortage of motivated, well-developed suspects. The solution is obvious come the book’s end, but it’s still satisfying and earned. Blythe Westerland initially seems so odious you root for her demise, but Goldenbaum uses her murder investigation to give the character pathos and nuance, if not heart—a nice change from the typical cookie-cutter victim. The pace is gentle and the prose borders on overwrought, but that actually suits the kind of story Goldenbaum’s telling here; if you’re a fan of romance, lovers’ quarrels, small children, and happy endings, you’ll find plenty to admire in Sally Goldenbaum’s A Finely Knit Murder.

Katrina Niidas Holm