|The coastal New England town Sea Harbor is quiet after the summer and fall tourist season and is settling in for the winter after a final holiday hurrah. When Nell runs into fashion magazine editor and former local girl Pamela Pisano at the tea shop early one morning, she doesn’t realize she’ll be one of the last people to see Pamela alive.
The patriarch of the Pisano clan has died and the clan is gathering, as usual, at the family homestead. As often happens with family deaths, there is much jealousy and arguing over what is to be done with the family home. Pamela’s cousin Mary is intent on turning Ravenswood into a local Bed and Breakfast, much to the dismay of the rest of the family.
That evening, when Nell and her niece, yarn shop owner Izzy Chambers, stop by Ravenswood to deliver some hand knit blankets Mary wants to use in the bedrooms of the B&B, they find Pamela dead in the snow, an apparent suicide.
The suicide doesn’t sit well with Izzy and Nell. And when they remember that Pamela had been carping that the shop didn’t offer knitting classes for lefties, they realize that Pamela did not commit suicide and that whoever murdered her didn’t take time with the details, for the gun was left in Pamela’s right hand.
A second death a few days later, with connections to both Pamela and Mary and Ravenswood, makes the ladies even more suspicious, though they aren’t sure if Pamela was the target or if someone doesn’t want Ravenswood to open. Amidst all the holiday traditions and charm, Izzy and Nell set out to catch another killer, before someone else dies.
Full of charm and warmth, Sea Harbor and Izzy’s store are natural fits for a cozy Christmas, complete with a murder investigation, of course. The town is full of lovely people, mostly eccentric but delightfully so, and Izzy is fitting right in among them. Causing Izzy some angst is her new gentleman friend, photographer Sam, who is definitely hiding something from Izzy. She is used to Sam going off on trips for business, but he has never been so secretive, causing her a great deal of distress. Nell and her husband Ben are the couple that keeps everyone together, hosting impromptu dinners and parties and keeping the martinis flowing.
As always, Nell and Izzy easily insinuate themselves into many situations and get people to open up, allowing them to get good insight into Pamela and her family – things that people wouldn’t normally talk about, but that might lead to a killer. A well-paced and plotted mystery, this is the perfect book to put your feet up and watch the Yule log burn.
--Jennifer Monahan Winberry