Knit, Purl, Die (Black Sheep Knitting Mystery #2) by Anne Canadeo
Knit, Purl, Die is the sequel to While My Pretty One Knits. In this series we have the Black Sheep knitting group made up of: Maggie Messina, the leader, once a high school art teacher, but now is the owner of the knitting shop, Black Sheep (Plum Harbor, Massachusetts);Lucy Binger, newly divorced, graphic designer; Dana Haegar, yoga loving, health foodie, psychologist; Suzanne Cavanaugh, multitasker, incredible cook, mother of five, real estate queen; and Phoebe Meyer, punk rocker, funloving, and unconventional assistant at the Black Sheep. The group gab, knit, and solve murders.
Several months have past since the previous book, with much staying the same, however there are two differences. Lucy and the vet, Matt, have grown closer than ever, and they now have a new member to their knitting group, Gloria Sterling.
Gloria Sterling is a wealthy ex-widow. She went to school for business, married a real wheeler-dealer, when he died inherited everything, left for Florida, and has just recently returned from Florida with her young, handsome husband, an artist.
But unlike Sunset Boulevard (1950) these two are very happily married. Jamie is Gloria’s third husband, and “dessert” as she likes to call him. Jamie is a blond bohunk, who can cook, knit, and loves to paint. Gloria, while older, is a beautiful blonde and the two seem crazy about each other.
Anyways, today is Gloria’s turn to host the food and knitting party. As everyone heads over they are all surprised with her gorgeous mansion. There they have some fun swimming and caipirinhas.
While they are enjoying themselves, Maggie brings forward a new project for them to start. An organization called, Warm Up America gives out blankets to those in need, such as the homeless or those on hospice. They are always looking for donations and Maggie thought it would be great if their group worked together to create some. If they split the squares between them, they could finish them quickly. They all agree.
After drinks, they start eating and talking. It turns out that Jamie is going to have his art show this fall in Boston. He leaves tomorrow to talk with the gallery owner and discuss it. Gloria is happy as her business skills have noticed Jamie’s lack of them. She keeps trying to do more to promote him, but he has refused.
Gloria also mentions how she wants to sell her house. She is looking for something that has a studio for Jamie and also a fresh start for their marriage. Suzanne, being a realtor, instantly picks up on this and offers herself to be their realtor in buying and selling.
Jamie leaves the ladies to finish a work, and the girls have dessert, coffee, and start knitting. Gloria tells them that she is staying home instead of going to Boston. This is Jamie’s deal and she wants him to enjoy it and take lead on it. She believes in him and his art, and since their marriage has been supporting him in words and money.
To me that just seems a it off. I know Gloria insists it was her idea, but was it really? How do you know Jamie isn’t a conman trying to bamboozle you. Then again, I am a naturally suspicious person. Maybe the two really are in love.
Anyways, Gloria then goes on to share some private info on Jamie’s upbringing. His father left the family when he was a baby and his mother drank and neglected him. He was moved around the family, eventually sent to foster homes, and ran away when he was a teen. No one has loved or cared for him, until Gloria. She loves him so much. He didn’t want Gloria to support him, but when she insisted, he said they could try it for a year. If he couldn’t get started then he was going to do something else. Gloria reveals to the others that if Jamie can’t get a gallery interested, then she’ll buy one and hang the pictures herself.
The next day Lucy gets up and takes her dog for her morning walk. As she is walking, she decides to head over to the Black Sheep and see what Maggie’s up to. She’s not the only one as Edie Steiber, owner of the town diner and a fellow knitter has stopped by. By this time Gloria’s drinks have really done a number on her head and she asks Maggie for aspirin. The two explain to Edie how they spent the night before at her house. Edie then tells them that she is not a fan of Gloria.
Edie doesn’t think the marriage will last much longer than their already six months. She believes Jamie is just after her money and will dump her within the year for a younger woman. Edie manages to weasel out the information that Gloria didn’t have Jamie sign a pre-nup and therefore concludes Jamie will take everything Gloria has. She then goes on to reveal why she doesn’t like Gloria. Back when she was married to her late husband, George Thurman, she was known as the “queen of mean”. In the early ’90s there was a big recession and they began buying property, raising the rent, and throwing people out.
Lucy and Maggie don’t believe their nice friend Gloria could be so cruel. Lucy changes the subject and leaves, while Edie picks up some supplies for a new project.
Meanwhile, Suzanne has just gotten into work and found a message from Gloria. It turns out that Gloria is set on starting right away, and Suzanne is just as eager. Not only does Gloria want to drop her house, but she has quite a few other properties she wants to get rid of.
For Suzanne, life is good.
She decides to celebrate with a BLT and heads over to the Black Sheep to share her good news. When she gets there it turns out that she is not the only one who came over, but Dana is also there knitting. Dana thinks its a little odd for Gloria to dump so much property with the recession, but concludes that her wanting to spend more time with Jamie makes sense. Jamie not only is her husband, but him so young, he has also taken the place of children to Gloria.
Lucy is hard at work, but stops to get ready for her date with Matt. Matt and her relationship is doing really great except for one sour note. Matt isn’t completely divorced yet. Supposedly, his wife is the cause for the holdup, but is it really? In my opnion there is no, kinda or sorta married.
You are or you aren’t and he isn’t. Lucy should not be dating him.
But Lucy is in love with him, and decides not to think about that. She heads over to the Café to meet him. As she is waiting, she runs into Gloria. Lucy is surprised that she would be out with Jamie gone, but doesn’t say anything. Gloria tells her she is meeting up with some friends, and that Jamie’s meeting went well. He tried to get her to come and party with him in Boston, but she said no as it has to be his thing. Matt comes in, and Lucy goes off with him to a table.
The next day, Suzanne is giving her tours. She ha taken the couple to see a few places, leaving Gloria’s for last as it is the one she knows they will just adore. When they get in the house, the two are stunned at it’s beauty. Suzanne is stunned at the slight mess in the room. Why didn’t Gloria tidy up? She knew that Suzanne was coming by with buyers. What’s going on?
She spots two wineglasses and sticks them in the dishwasher. She glances out the window on her way back and notices that Gloria’s favorite chaise chair isn’t in the usual place. Odd.
The clients spot the pool and want to look outdoors, even though Suzanne was planning on saving it for last, she decides to go with the flow. They go out when the wife screams out. They look and find a body. Gloria.
Lucy is working at home when she gets a call from Suzanne. They have called the police and with Suzanne’s family away, she wants Lucy to come be with her as the police question her. She also tells Lucy that Gloria is dead. When Lucy gets there, Suzanne tells her the whole story of discovering Gloria’s body. The two feel horrible. They feel even worse for Jamie, who is going to be crushed when he finds out.
Jamie shows up while the two are there, and just as they predicted is crushed at the news.
Now at this point I thought Jamie was the murderer. Rich wife, poor husband, it looked right to me. I also thought that the author’s big twist at the end would be that Jamie was actually gay, and just pretending to be a dream man to score wealthy widows. I mean think about it, muscular, good-looking, great cook, sensitive, and an artist. There’s no way any woman would be lucky enough to find a straight guy with all those qualities.
Back to the book. Lucy invites Jamie to stay at her place, but he begs off as he wants time alone and will later spend the night at his friend Kenny’s place.
Two hours later, all the girls have gathered at Lucy’s place to eat and talk. The police don’t think it is murder, but have to go through certain channels. None of them can believe that Gloria is dead, she was so full of life.
They start talking and Suzanne shares that Gloria gave her the code for the alarm, but it wasn’t on when she was there. When they were on the phone, the bell rang and Gloria had to get off the phone. Some think it was delivery, but Lucy is not sure. She knows that Gloria was at the café, so it wouldn’t be delivery. They reason that it could have been on the TV or a thousand other things, but come on people. It was a person. It has to be. Don’t over think the obvious. Besides there was the two empty wineglasses.
Gloria’s death is determined to be an accident by the coroner, she took some drugs, drank a lot, and fell in. But, oh, of course we readers know better. This is a Black Sheep mystery which means Gloria’s death can only be one thing.
All are surprised about the drugs, but Jamie isn’t. He said that Gloria would get into these really down moods. This side was the one she never showed people but kept to herself, and Jamie of course.
That seems a little contrived to me.
The group then plan out Gloria’s memorial service. Like Jamie, Gloria was raised in foster homes and because of that didn’t have a lot of pictures of her younger. They do find some good ones of her to use, and stumble upon one that has her, George, and a little girl. Lucy asks who she is and Maggie tells her about George’s daughter from his previous marriage. She was about five when George died, and would be in her late teens-early twenties today. Her mother had primary custody so George only saw her on the weekends, and after he died the mother ceased all contact with Gloria.
The funeral is sad and there are lots of people there. Jamie looks horrible, not shaving, etc. The memorial is sweet with lots of good stories about Gloria being shared.
After the memorial, Lucy heads home and works on her part of the blanket. She starts thinking about making something for Matt, but is unsure as to what. A sweater seems too big, maybe socks? Yes, socks. And who’s perfect to ask? Phoebe.
The next day Lucy heads out to the Black Sheep and runs right into everyone else. Dana is taking a break and headed over as well. When they get in, they find Suzanne already there with Maggie and Phoebe. They discuss the selling of everything, but Suzanne starts to worry that it is going to take a looooong time. Phoebe asks to leave as her new friend Crystal invited her to the beach. Maggie has reservations, but let’s her go.
Jamie stops by to drop off memorial leftovers. They ask how he is doing, but Jamie is not so hot. It seems that Gloria’s fortune is in a mess, in fact there doesn’t seem to be. For now he has a bank account and credit cards, but that’s not going to last long. All the girls tell him they will help in any shape or way they can.
While he’s there a Goth girl enters. She wears all black, is covered in tattoos, and long, black hair cut in a raggedy style. As she enters, Jamie leaves. Phoebe comes out and the two girls leave, but not before Maggie convinces her to try knitting.
Maggie starts wondering if maybe Jamie is hinting that Gloria committed suicide. Lucy disagrees as she saw her on her last night and she looked great and acted fine. And was prepared to meet somebody.
Now here is where my belief Jamie did was cemented. All of a sudden we are hearing about this hidden side? I’m not saying that kind of thing doesn’t happen, but it seems awfully suspicious to me.
That weekend Lucy works and spends some time with Matt. The start of the week, she heads over to the Black Sheep to get more wool for the blanket, along with seeing how Jamie is doing.
Jamie drops Gloria’s knitting stuff off with them to use. Jamie finds out that Gloria’s finances are a mess. He then is told a group of shady people have been asking him to pay back their loan. They even break his thumb.
This seems just a bit much for me. I don’t believe it. I totally think it’s Jamie who did it.
Jamie leaves and Dana comes, and they spill all the news. Dana tells them that Gloria told her that before Jamie, she had been having an affair with Mike Novak, a business associate He was married and she wanted him to divorce his wife for her, but he refused. She broke it off, went to Florida, and married Jamie. Since then Mike has been acting crazy. He kept trying to get her to come back to him.
The next night is their knitting night and they meet up and discuss Mike Novak. Jamie stops by and they share some of their suspicions with him. He leaves and Phoebe and Crystal come by. They teach Crystal about knitting and she wants to help out on the charity blanket.
Lucy can’t stop thinking about “the case” and after a few emails, she, Suzanne, and Dana decide to question Mike Novak.
The next morning they meet up at the country club where Dana is a member. They eat breakfast and wait for Mike. When he stops by, Dana cooly interrogates him. She discovers that property transferred from Mike to Gloria for $1, was for “a loan”.
Jamie hires a private investigator and the girls give him all the info they have. Did Gloria die of suicide? Did Mike murder her? Was it Jamie? Read and find out.
Thoughts after reading:
*Warning: Contains Spoliers*
I have to say this is one of my least favorite books in the series as it isn’t treated as a mystery until two thirds of the way. The girls don’t plan on investigating as they don’t see anything suspicious. I mean come on, rich older woman married to a young, handsome, poor, man. The thought that he might have killed her for her money should have crossed their mind at least once.
So I did figure out that Jamie was behind the whole thing, conman marrying her to eventually inherit everything, but the author did get me with her twist. No it wasn’t that Jamie was gay, it was that he had a partner. Apparently he met Crystal, George Thurman’s daughter, who had an intense hatred for Gloria. She killed Gloria while Jamie was at the event, providing him with an alibi and getting revenge.
The first book was way better in writing and approach, although this one isn’t too horrible. I defintely would read it again, but While My Pretty One Knits, is one I could read again and again again and again again and again again and again again and again again and again.
For more on Black Sheep Mysteries, go to While My Pretty One Knits
For more mysteries, go to At the Corner of King Street