Silence of the Lamb's Wool (A Yarn Retreat Mystery)

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9780425252581: Silence of the Lamb's Wool (A Yarn Retreat Mystery)

Dessert chef Casey Feldstein has learned one end of a knitting needle from the other after inheriting her aunt’s yarn retreat business, but a murder threatens to unravel her latest event . . .

Casey’s running a new retreat called “From Sheep to Shawl” at a resort on the atmospheric Monterey Peninsula. Participants will learn about sheepshearing, fixing up the fleece, and spinning, and will eventually knit a lovely shawl.

Nicole Welton has been hired to teach the fleece-to-fiber portion of the retreat. She’s an expert spinner, and her small shop in Cadbury by the Sea houses a beautiful assortment of spinning wheels and drop spindles. But when the new teacher fails to show up for class and is found lying dead on the boardwalk, it leaves everyone’s nerves frayed.

Now Casey has to knit together clues faster than she can count stitches before someone else at the retreat gets dropped . . .

Includes a knitting pattern and a recipe!

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

About the Author :

Betty Hechtman is also the author of the Crochet Mysteries, including For Better or Worsted and If Hooks Could Kill. She has a degree in fine arts and since college has studied everything from tap dancing to magic. When she isn’t writing, reading, or crocheting, she’s probably at the gym. She lives in Southern California with her family.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :

Acknowledgments

1

There is nothing like being awakened by a ringing phone and finding a pair of yellow eyes staring back at you. I think Julius knew I’d never had a pet and he’d taken it on as his duty to train me in the art of cat cohabitation, which included sitting on my chest when he wanted breakfast. His yellow eyes blinked at me as if to say, “Would you get up and get me some food. Preferably that stuff in the can with the fabulous fishy odor.”

The fluffy black cat let out a complaining meow as I tried to move him out of the way so I could reach for the cordless, which continued to ring insistently. He held on tight and jumped off only at the last minute with another meow as I clicked on the phone.

“What was that noise?” my mother said, skipping right past a “hello” or “good morning.” “It sounded like a cat. Casey, don’t tell me you got a cat. Not with your history.”

This was exactly why I hadn’t told her about Julius. Besides, I didn’t really “get” Julius. He showed up at my door, invited himself in and stayed. I could only guess at his backstory. I’d taken him to the vet, who gave him his shots and told me he was somewhere between one and five years old. Since he’d already been neutered, it appeared he had belonged to somebody and then was most likely abandoned. Along with the other cat supplies, I’d gotten him a collar with his name on it and had him chipped.

The history my mother was referring to was the fact that I had trouble sticking with things. How could I explain to her that the cat was different? I might have trouble sticking with professions, but Julius and I were going to be together for his forever, no matter what. But I needn’t have worried about an explanation, because she didn’t leave space for one. She just launched into her call.

“I didn’t wake you, did I?” my mother said, before offering some excuse about the time difference. C’mon. My mother is a cardiologist who fixes broken hearts. Did she really expect me to believe she couldn’t calculate that 9:00 a.m. in Chicago translated to 7:00 a.m. here in Cadbury by the Sea, California? Nor did I believe that she didn’t remember that I worked nights baking desserts for the Blue Door restaurant and muffins for the coffee spots in town.

I sat up, reluctantly pulling back the snuggly lightweight down comforter I’d been cocooned in as my mother continued on with small talk. She always began our calls that way, as if I didn’t know what was coming. My feet touched the cold wood floor and felt their way into the rose-colored plush slippers next to the bed. The light coming in the room was flat and I could see a snippet of the white sky. It didn’t matter that it was May; the weather was the same as it had been in November. Cool, cloudy and damp.

Once I was well versed in what was going on with my pediatrician father, she moved on to the real point of the call. If my mother hadn’t been a doctor, she could have been an interrogator for the cops.

“So, have you had enough yet? Are you ready to leave?” she said. I bristled silently at her questions. But I couldn’t argue. I had a certain reputation and I can’t say it wasn’t well earned. I’d gone through numerous professions—a semester of law school before dropping out, two years of substitute teaching at a private school before I faced the truth that it wasn’t for me. Even my gig as a baker had lasted only six months, until the bistro closed. But at least I’d loved it, and in a way it had led me to a future. The rest of the time I’d done temp work—everything from handing out samples of breath mints to spritzing shoppers with perfume. The only temp job I’d really liked was working at the detective agency, but that had ended, too.

Hoping a fresh start would make a difference, I’d relocated to my aunt’s converted garage/guesthouse in Cadbury by the Sea. With her help, I’d gotten a job baking desserts at the Blue Door along with the muffin-baking business. Thinking about my aunt Joan made my eyes get misty. Just a few months after I’d moved in, she was killed in a hit-and-run. I’d inherited her house and her business.

“Mother, it’s different this time,” I said. I could practically see her response. She was no doubt dressed in one of her many pantsuits and I’d heard one of her dangle earrings knock against the phone. I would bet her eyes had gone skyward as she’d shaken her head in disbelief.

I might have shared a little of her disbelief. It wasn’t as if I had any experience in the business my aunt had left me. It was called Yarn2Go and involved putting on yarn retreats. The next question was always, What are yarn retreats? The retreat part is easy to understand. It means a group of people withdrawing for prayer, meditation, study or instruction under a director. I guess the director means me. There isn’t any prayer or study involved, but since yarn work seems to be meditative, you could keep the meditation in. And there is some kind of instruction.

That’s where the yarn part comes in. So far it has been only knitting. Another reason for my mother’s disbelief was my basic lack of yarn skills, or so she thought. When I put on the first retreat I hadn’t even known how to knit. I have to admit it wasn’t exactly love at first clack of the needles, but something happened during the weekend and by the end I’d begun to understand why people loved working with yarn. You could say I’d caught the bug.

In the time since that retreat, I had upped my skills, though I still had a long way to go before I’d be close to my aunt’s level. At least now I knew how to cast on, knit, purl and cast off. I hadn’t discussed it with my mother, knowing there was no way she would understand.

I girded myself as I got ready to tell her about the retreat I had coming up the following weekend. “I’m doing an event Aunt Joan always wanted to do. It’s a little bigger than the first one I put on with only five retreaters. Well, six if you count the one who died.”

“If I were you, I’d never mention that anyone died again. Who would want to go on a retreat if they knew last time that someone didn’t make it to the end? So, what’s the big number of retreaters for this one? Seven?” It was as close as my mother came to a joke.

“More like twenty,” I said.

“Twenty?” she repeated.

“This retreat is totally different from the last. Joan called it Sheep to Shawl. We’re going to start off with some sheep getting sheared—humanely of course—then go through the steps of turning the wool into yarn. Finally everyone will knit a shawlette out of the finished yarn.” Before my mother could say anything, I added that I’d found somebody in town who knew about the process of turning wool into yarn and was handling that particular aspect.

My mother didn’t really want to hear all the details and cut in. “I’m just checking. The cooking school called to let me know that a new session is starting up next month. It’s all set up for you. You could be spending the summer in Paris. And at the end, you’d be a professional chef.”

I’d gotten the same call the previous month. When I’d first taken over my aunt’s business, my parents—well, mostly my mother—had stepped in, sure that I was just going off on another temporary job tangent, and offered to send me to cooking school in France, which she regarded as a way to turn my interest in baking into a real profession. I gave her the same answer I’d given her the month before: “Not yet.” I wanted to say “not ever,” but one thing I’d learned about myself was never say never.

After a few well-placed sighs of disapproval, my mother asked about Sammy. Sammy was Dr. Samuel Glickner, a urologist and my former boyfriend. He would have had the title of husband if my mother had had her way. Although we’d broken up, we were still friends, and he’d recently relocated from Chicago to the Monterey Peninsula and joined a urology practice. He insisted he wasn’t following me. He claimed to love the area and it was a chance to pursue his love of magic.

“He got a job doing card tricks at a bar,” I said. My mother gasped and I had to fight the urge to laugh. And I hadn’t even mentioned that it was kind of a tough biker bar in Seaside.

“Has he lost his mind?” she said finally. “What if his patients see him?”

If only Sammy could have heard my mother, he would have been so happy. He was convinced that part of the reason things hadn’t worked out with us was that my mother liked him too much. Well, not anymore.

“And the cop down the street, what’s his name?” my mother said.

“Dane Mangano. What about him?” I answered, playing dumb.

“Casey, I have eyes. Your father and I were only there for a short time, but I saw there was something between you.”

She was right about that. There was some kind of spark that flitted between us, but I was letting it fizzle out. He was a neighbor and this was a small town. I knew me. If things didn’t last and most likely they wouldn’t, I’d still have to live down the street from him. I wondered if I should mention the food thing we’d worked out.

Dane Mangano was a cop who cooked pots of pasta covered with mouthwatering homemade sauce. I made desserts, but when it came to regular meals, I was okay living on frozen entrées. Dane and I had worked out an exchange. He left me plates of the delicious pasta and I left him muffins and desserts.

I heard some noise on my mother’s end and guessed her next patient was there. Just before she signed off, she said her trademark comment: “I don’t get it, Casey. When I was your age, I was a wife, a mother and a doctor, and you’re a . . . what?”

My reaction was automatic, too. No thinking, just my back going up while I searched for a snappy retort. But before I could say a word, her tone softened and she added, “It’s only because I love you. Have a good day, sweetie.” Then with a click she was gone and I was left with a lump in my throat only she could put there.

By now I’d made it into the room I used as an office. What that meant was that I had left it the way my aunt had it arranged. Even to the point of keeping my knitting stuff in there. The knitted scarf I’d started during the first retreat hung from a doorknob where I could admire it. I was so proud of the fact that I had finished it completely, down to adding the fringe.

Because of my worry about finishing things, my projects after the scarf had all been items I could make in a short amount of time. I’d become a wiz at washcloths, small pouch purses and bandanna scarves.

The golden crocheted lion my aunt had made was still guarding the desk. And I’d left the seafoam green lap blanket hanging on the arm of the black leather love seat. I liked to think they were reminders of her and what I might make in the future.

I’d gone into the office to check the status of the tote bags for the early birds, as I called them. Three of the people who’d come on my first retreat were coming ahead of time for a pre-retreat retreat and would be arriving this morning. The three tomato-red bags still needed the drop spindles and the pattern for the shawlette.

Julius came in and popped up on the love seat, trying to get my attention. As soon as I looked at him, he jumped down and sauntered toward the open door, looking behind to see if I was following. I got the message and he led the way to the kitchen.

He went directly to the refrigerator in case there was any doubt of what he wanted.

“When this can is gone, that’s it,” I said, opening the refrigerator door. I’d wrapped the half-used can in multiple layers of plastic to contain the smell. I held my nose while I went through the layers, having gotten a whiff of mackerel when I first opened the can. A stink to me; heaven to him.

I realized I must love this cat. I’d fed him before I even thought about making coffee. He ate every morsel of his stink fish while I stirred some crystals in hot water. I looked at my aunt’s coffeepot and thought I really ought to start using it, but this instant stuff was so much easier. I sat down at the table with the coffee and a container of yogurt while Julius searched the bowl for any pieces he might have missed. When he was done, he nestled in my lap and began to purr his thank-yous.

It was nice having all this space after living in the converted garage, which was really just one big room. I knew my aunt would be happy to see how I was changing things around to make the house my own. The kitchen had been the first order of business and I liked seeing my stand mixer ready for action on the sea green–tiled counter. All my baking pans were easily accessible and my cooking tools nicely arranged in the drawers.

Julius took time out from his purring to tap me on the arm for his taste of the yogurt. I gave him the last spoonful and then we both got up. I had places to go and people to see.

2

Here on the tip of the Monterey Peninsula, the weather was the same year-round. The temperature bounced back and forth between the fifties and sixties, occasionally slipping up into the seventies, and I’d learned a whole vocabulary for describing white skies and fog because blue skies came and went in a hurry. I’d found the perfect outerwear was fleece and I now had a whole wardrobe of the soft nubby jackets in different colors. This morning I’d opted for the cream-colored one with a rosy pink scarf wound around my neck to add a little color. I zipped up the fleece as I stepped outside, letting the bracing air wipe away the last feeling of sleepiness.

When I had bought Julius his cat supplies at Cadbury Pets, the pet specialist suggested I make him an indoor cat. Right. He was an escape artist able to turn door handles and slip through windows left open only a sliver. The solution was to let him go in or out at his own discretion. He followed me down the step from the back door and took off into what passed for a backyard. I was relieved when he didn’t follow me farther. He wasn’t a welcome guest where I was going.

I lived on the edge of Cadbury by the Sea. Everything was wilder out here and people’s yards had either whatever native plants (that’s the politically correct way of saying weeds) that grew on their own or ivy ground cover. The only planted aspects at my place were the pots of red and white impatiens my aunt had set near the back door.

I’d never been an outdoor kind of person. Growing up in the hermetically sealed Hancock building in downtown Chicago had been all about looking at the view rather than being part of it. There, Lake Michigan was a few blocks away. Here, an even shorter distance took me to the sea. I could smell the salt in the air and hear the rhythm of the waves as I crossed the street to Vista Del Mar, the hotel and conference center where the retreats were held.

It was obvious why my aunt had decided to hold the retreats here. How much more convenient could you get than just across the street? And there was another reason, too. Something about the way Vista Del Mar was closer to a camp than a resort made it the perfect setting for yarn lovers to gather and work on their craft.

Two stone pillars marked the entrance to the driveway. The flat light made the dark weathered buildings appear even more moody, like they were hiding dee...

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Betty Hechtman
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Description du livre Berkley Books, United States, 2014. Paperback. État : New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Dessert chef Casey Feldstein has learned one end of a knitting needle from the other after inheriting her aunt s yarn retreat business, but a murder threatens to unravel her latest event . . . Casey s running a new retreat called From Sheep to Shawl at a resort on the atmospheric Monterey Peninsula. Participants will learn about sheepshearing, fixing up the fleece, and spinning, and will eventually knit a lovely shawl. Nicole Welton has been hired to teach the fleece-to-fiber portion of the retreat. She s an expert spinner, and her small shop in Cadbury by the Sea houses a beautiful assortment of spinning wheels and drop spindles. But when the new teacher fails to show up for class and is found lying dead on the boardwalk, it leaves everyone s nerves frayed. Now Casey has to knit together clues faster than she can count stitches before someone else at the retreat gets dropped . . . Includes a knitting pattern and a recipe!. N° de réf. du libraire AAS9780425252581

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Description du livre Berkley Books, United States, 2014. Paperback. État : New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Dessert chef Casey Feldstein has learned one end of a knitting needle from the other after inheriting her aunt s yarn retreat business, but a murder threatens to unravel her latest event . . . Casey s running a new retreat called From Sheep to Shawl at a resort on the atmospheric Monterey Peninsula. Participants will learn about sheepshearing, fixing up the fleece, and spinning, and will eventually knit a lovely shawl. Nicole Welton has been hired to teach the fleece-to-fiber portion of the retreat. She s an expert spinner, and her small shop in Cadbury by the Sea houses a beautiful assortment of spinning wheels and drop spindles. But when the new teacher fails to show up for class and is found lying dead on the boardwalk, it leaves everyone s nerves frayed. Now Casey has to knit together clues faster than she can count stitches before someone else at the retreat gets dropped . . . Includes a knitting pattern and a recipe!. N° de réf. du libraire AAS9780425252581

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