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Authors: Sally Goldenbaum

Trimmed With Murder

BOOK: Trimmed With Murder
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Published by New American Library,

an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

This book is an original publication of New American Library.

First Printing, November 2015

Copyright © Sally Goldenbaum, 2015

Penguin Random House supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin Random House to continue to publish books for every reader.

Obsidian and the Obsidian colophon are trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

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Goldenbaum, Sally.

Trimmed with murder: a seaside knitters mystery / Sally Goldenbaum.

pages cm.—(Seaside knitters mystery; 10)

“An Obsidian mystery.”

ISBN 978-0-698-17205-0

1. Knitters (Persons)—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3557.O35937T75 2015

813'.54—dc23 2015030573


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The recipe contained in this book is to be followed exactly as written. The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision. The publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipe contained in this book.



Other Seaside Knitters Mysteries by Sally Goldenbaum

Title Page



Cast of Characters

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Nell's Sailboat Ornament

Nell's Easy Pork Tenderloin

For my family

Cast of Characters


Nell Endicott:
Former Boston nonprofit director, lives in Sea Harbor with her husband, Ben

Izzy (Isabel Chambers Perry):
Boston attorney, now owner of the Seaside Knitting Studio; Nell and Ben Endicott's niece; married to Sam Perry

Cass (Catherine Mary Theresa Halloran):
Lobster fisherwoman

Birdie (Bernadette Favazza):
Sea Harbor's wealthy, wise, and generous silver-haired grand dame


Ben Endicott:
Nell's husband

Sam Perry:
Award-winning photojournalist, married to Izzy

Danny Brandley:
Mystery novelist and son of bookstore owners

Sonny Favazza:
Birdie's first husband


Charlie Chambers:
Izzy's younger brother

Andy Risso:
Drummer in Pete Halloran's band; son of the Gull Tavern owner

Don and Rachel Wooten:
Owner of the Ocean's Edge restaurant (Don) and city attorney (Rachel)

Ella and Harold Sampson:
Birdie's housekeeper and groundsman/driver

Gracie Santos:
Owner of Gracie's Lazy Lobster Café

Jane and Ham Brewster:
Artists and cofounders of the Canary Cove Art Colony

Mary Halloran:
Pete and Cass's mother; secretary of Our Lady of Safe Seas Church

Pete Halloran:
Cass's younger brother and lead guitarist in the Fractured Fish band

Willow Adams:
Fiber artist, Fishtail Gallery; Pete Halloran's girlfriend


Alan Hamilton, MD:
Family doctor

Alphonso Santos:
Owner of construction company; chamber of commerce cochair; married to Liz Palazola Santos

Amber Harper:
Hitchhiker whom Charlie Chambers picks up and drives to Sea Harbor

Annabelle Palazola:
Owner of the Sweet Petunia Restaurant

Archie and Harriet Brandley:
Owners of the Sea Harbor Bookstore

Barbara Cummings:
Co-owner of Cummings Northshore Nurseries

Beatrice Scaglia:
Mayor of Sea Harbor

Carly Schultz:
Nurse at Ocean View

Ellie Harper:
Amber Harper's deceased mother

Esther Gibson:
Police dispatcher (and Mrs. Santa Claus in season)

Father Lawrence Northcutt:
Pastor of Our Lady of Safe Seas Church

Garrett O'Neal:
Accountant at Cummings Northshore Nurseries

Harry and Margaret Garozzo:
Owners of Garozzo's Deli

Helen Cummings:
Wife of co-owner of Cummings Northshore Nurseries

Henrietta O'Neal:
Longtime resident; Garrett O'Neal's aunt

Janie Levin:
Nurse practitioner in the Sea Harbor Free Health Clinic; Tommy Porter's girlfriend

Jerry Thompson:
Police chief

Laura Danvers:
Young socialite and philanthropist, mother of three; married to banker Elliot Danvers

Lydia Cummings:
Owner of Cummings Northshore Nurseries

Mae Anderson:
Izzy's shop manager; twin teenage nieces, Jillian and Rose

Mary Pisano:
Middle-aged newspaper columnist; owner of Ravenswood-by-the-Sea B&B

Merry Jackson:
Owner of the Artist's Palate Bar and Grill; keyboard/singer in the Fractured Fish

Polly Farrell:
Owner of Polly's Tea Shoppe

Richard Gibson:
Esther's retired husband

Stella Palazola:
Realtor in Sea Harbor; Annabelle's daughter

Stuart Cummings:
Co-owner of Cummings Northshore Nurseries

Tommy Porter:

Chapter 1

harlie hadn't yet reached the bridge that crossed over onto Cape Ann proper when he decided it was all a terrible mistake. A cruel joke his conscience had played on him, punishing him for all the wrongs in his life.

But it was too late to turn back. He'd vowed that in this grown-up chapter of his life he'd keep promises, honor commitments. Even if the truth was that it might not matter to anyone. No one was expecting him, not tonight, at least. And maybe the doctor had exaggerated the need in her clinic. But the fact was that he had said he would come. So he would.

Gripping the steering wheel until his fingers hurt, he squinted into the black wintry night. The highway was narrow and full of curves, unfamiliar to him.

And there was the rain that had begun about the time he'd passed a big mall at the Danvers exit. It was coming down harder now, fat sloppy drops that splattered on the windshield and spread across the glass. An angry wind pulled and pushed the car across the road, and the wild trees, swaying with weather's elemental force, seemed to reach out toward him until he found himself hugging the center line, avoiding their touch.

He approached another curve, his eyes stinging, focusing on the yellow line, the bend ahead.

He slowed slightly, pulling the wheel to the right. The shadows beside the road grew thicker here, the trees dense. At first he thought it was a sapling, a bare, slender tree bending along with its taller peers like naked dancers in the frigid, icy night.

But suddenly the road straightened and his headlights sliced through the darkness—catching the swaying figure as it stepped directly into the car's path.

Charlie slammed his foot on the pedal, the repeated pulsing of the ABS brakes sending vibrations through his body. His body shook, his mind ragged with fear. He'd almost hit someone, or maybe an animal. It couldn't be happening . . . not again . . . not . . .

His thoughts froze in the air. With white fingers clutching the steering wheel, he leaned forward, staring through the windshield, his eyes straining to see beyond the flapping wipers.

But there was no time to process what he was seeing. Seconds later the passenger door flew open. A rush of wind and rain filled the heated car, followed in seconds by a hooded body that slid onto the passenger seat.

The door slammed shut.

At first he felt confusion, a ringing in his ears so loud it blocked out the wind that rocked the small car. He pushed against his door, staring at the stranger.

Finally facial features appeared under the folds of the hood and he saw that it was a woman—sopping wet and disheveled—her face barely visible, but striking gray eyes luminous as they stared at him.

He glanced down at the slushy pools of water collecting on the leather car seats and dripping onto the floor of his BMW. An old backpack fell onto the floor, landing in a sea of leaves and frozen rain.

She followed his look and he thought he heard the trace of a laugh. Then she looked at him again, her eyes going up and down his body. “I thought big guys like you drove trucks.”

He ignored the comment. Instead he concentrated on the girl herself, and his medical training kicked in. He couldn't see blood, just a wet, nondescript woman staring back at him. Was she hurt? Mentally ill?

She pushed back the hood of her parka, revealing a narrow, pale face and brown hair touching her shoulders in damp, limp strands.

But it was her eyes that stunned him, staring, challenging him. They reminded him of a piece of granite he had in his old stone collection. Granite with a touch of mica. A touch of glitter.

“Well?” she asked. “What are you waiting for?”

“Waiting for? Who the hell are you?” A foolish question—but the words came out of nowhere.

The smell of freezing rain and wet leather filled the car.

She laughed.

It was a strong laugh, but youthful. She was younger than he was, but not much. Late twenties, maybe. Lean, pretty, if she'd let herself be.

“What's your name?” Charlie asked.

“Jane Doe,” she snapped, then buckled her seat belt and looked through the windshield at the road ahead. “Come on. Let's go. It's freezing.”

Charlie's hands were on the wheel, but he kept staring at this peculiar woman who had somehow taken over his car. He forked one hand through thick, slightly curly hair. “Go where?”

Her face contorted into a frown. Then she released it, and spoke slowly, as if to a child. “From the signs along this road and the exit sign back there, I'd say we were headed for Sea Harbor.”

Charlie shifted the car into first and pulled slowly back onto the road, his head turning now and then to get a better look at his passenger. Or maybe to be sure she wasn't slipping his phone or wallet, sitting on the console between them, into her pocket or backpack.

“You shouldn't be hitchhiking,” he said finally. His voice was tight, with an unexpected paternalistic tone. “It's dangerous.”

She laughed, mocking him, then said in a low tone, matching his, “You shouldn't be picking up hitchhikers. It's dangerous, young man.”

He glanced over, unsure if she was joking or ridiculing him.

She pulled off her soggy gloves and dropped them on the floor, then slipped one hand into the pocket of her parka while she warmed the other in front of a heat vent. She twisted in the seat, her body turning toward his.

The movement pulled Charlie's eyes from the road again. He watched the bulge beneath the jacket grow as her fingers curled beneath the fabric.

“How do you know I'm not about to off you?” she said, her hand still in her pocket. “Maybe I'll take your money and your Bimmer and leave you by the side of the road.”

Her look was focused and direct. It was so concentrated and sharp that Charlie squirmed in the seat. She was crazy. He was twice her bulk, a football player's body visible even beneath his heavy jacket—but she made him nervous. He wondered briefly if she'd wandered off the grounds of a mental health place somewhere along the highway.

“Or maybe worse—maybe I'll ravage you first,” she said. She pulled her hand out of her pocket and walked her fingers across the console, over to his leg, crawling up his thigh.

“Cut it out,” Charlie said through clenched teeth. His foot pushed down on the gas pedal, and the car skidded across the road. He held tight to the wheel and brought it back under control.

The girl pulled her hand away.

Charlie could feel the smile on her face and it irritated him.

“No gun,” she said. “No nothing. Just me.”

He swallowed a sudden swell of anger and drove across the bridge in silence. The rain was letting up slightly and on both sides of the river houses sparkled with holiday lights, cheerful and alive, defying the weather. Charlie glanced at the GPS and drove along the river road for a way, then followed the signs that welcomed him into Sea Harbor, home of the fighting Cool Cods.

The girl read the sign out loud. “I remember that. High school mascot.”

“You're from Sea Harbor?”

“No. Well, sorta.” She kept her eyes glued to the passing neighborhoods, houses lit up for the holidays. “I haven't been here since I was a kid. It looks different. You?”

Charlie shook his head. He felt as if he'd been there, though. All those pictures from his mother. Guilt pictures. He
have come over those many years. But he hadn't visited. Not once. Not when his whole family came to Boston for his sister's graduation. Not when she married their older brother's best friend—and his good friend, too.

He couldn't come, not then. Those were dark times for Charlie. His wandering years. Flings, morose moods. Anger. There was no room for darkness at a wedding. He'd done everyone a favor by staying away, or at least that was how he justified it in his head.

“So, why are you here?” Her voice had softened slightly and was almost friendly. He looked over. Her face had softened, too—her eyes brighter, her cheeks slightly flushed from the cold. A long straight nose. Her features fit together more pleasingly, as if the car heater had warmed more than her skin, bringing her face to life.

He looked back at the road and said, “A job.”

She nodded and repeated his words. “A job. Okay. What kind of job?”

Charlie was quiet.

“Cat got your tongue?”

“I guess it does.” He made a right turn, following signs that routed traffic to the harbor.
, one read. He pressed his foot on the gas and picked up some speed.

He hadn't intended to arrive in town so late, but the rain and an accident on 95 had slowed traffic to a crawl. Since no one was expecting him, it didn't really matter when he showed up, he supposed. The doctor had said she'd help him get settled when he arrived, but he hadn't told her exactly when he was coming—sometime around mid-December was as close as he came to nailing it down. A cowardly act. What he was really doing was giving himself time to change his mind.

But no matter, he couldn't show up on her doorstep unannounced, not to mention that he had no idea where her doorstep was. The only address on her card had been that of a community center. He'd find a place in town to spend the night.

Charlie looked out the side window, as if to hide his thoughts from the woman sitting inches away. There were other people living in Sea Harbor whom he could call to put him up for a night or two until he got organized. But he wouldn't. He couldn't. He pushed the discomforting thought to the back of his head.

“Amber,” the woman said, pulling his attention back into the car. “You can call me Amber.”

He nodded. “Charlie,” he said, and took a curve faster than necessary. “Okay, Amber. It looks like we're in Sea Harbor. So, where can I drop you?”

She didn't answer. She was nibbling on her bottom lip, her eyes scanning the streets as if trying to match them to a memory.

“You okay?” Charlie asked.

“I hate this place,” she said.

“But you're here.”

“Briefly.” Her look told Charlie to stop asking questions.

Charlie nodded. Briefly. It might be the same for him. No plans beyond the month he'd promised the clinic.

The houses were starting to give way to small shops. Straight ahead, beyond the harbor lights and spread out as far as Charlie could see, lay the ocean, its only definition a series of whitecaps that repeated themselves, over and over. He pulled to the left, turning onto Harbor Road, a street lined with old-fashioned lampposts fronting bars and cafés and retail shops. Sparkling white lights wound around the posts and up and down the street, giant red bows and boughs of evergreen-decorated storefronts, restaurants, and signs.

It was a scene from a Disney movie with one exception: the streets were nearly empty of people.

•   •   •

Tommy Porter, his uniform jacket smelling of wet polyester, stood in front of Jake Risso's Gull Tavern, just beneath the green awning. The rain had turned into a freezing drizzle and he pulled up his collar against the wet cold.
Tommy predicted.

He thought about his fiancée, Janie, helping out at the big community center party in Anya Angelina Park, and he wished for the umpteenth time that night that he was with her. But then, he always wished that. And the wish made him smile. It was okay—Janie'd be ultrabusy tonight, helping run the darn thing, too busy to pay attention to him. She'd pulled her brother, Zack, into helping tonight, too—trying as always to keep the college kid on the straight and narrow path.

He couldn't complain about not being there anyway—he had volunteered to take the Harbor Road shift tonight, knowing no one else wanted it. It'd be a cinch, there'd be no crime. The weather was too bad for bar fights. Too cold for thieves or derelicts passing through. Too close to the holidays for people to entertain ill will.

He half listened to the canned music escaping from the bar as a few fishermen straggled out. Tommy waved and watched them lumber across the street, then spotted an unfamiliar car out of the corner of his eye. It was driving toward him on Harbor Road. Not that Tommy knew every car that came in and out of Sea Harbor, but this one didn't look homegrown. A red BMW, not new but well cared for, stood out.

And it was going too fast for the slick streets, was his second thought.

He took a few steps from beneath the awning, but before he could register anything, the car pulled over to the curb and came to a sudden stop, water spitting up around the wheels and sloshing over the curb.

Drunk driver? Probably not. Unless he was so drunk it didn't register to him that he was pulling up in front of a policeman in full uniform.

The driver left the car running, but opened the door, stepped out, and pressed his gloved hands on the roof, calling over to the policeman, “Hey—where is everyone? It's like a ghost town around here.”

Tommy hunched up his shoulders against the drizzle and walked over to the car, his eyes not leaving the driver. He was a decent-sized guy, shoulders wide and with a thick head of hair that blew in all directions as the wind picked up. A little older than himself, he thought. Nice-looking in a collegiate sort of way—strong cheekbones and chin, a straight nose, inquisitive blue eyes set wide apart—features that probably got him carded in a bar now and then.

Not that thieves or killers or lowlifes had a certain look, but Tommy suspected this guy wasn't one of them.

Just then the passenger door opened and a woman climbed out, boots and jeaned legs coming first, then followed by a parka-clad figure that seemed to unfold with a certain grace from the car. Her hood was pushed back and she swept away strands of brown hair from her cheeks and eyes as she looked around, her gaze settling finally on the policeman.

She nodded, a brief and silent greeting.

Tommy held out an umbrella, but she shook her head, looking up into the black sky and letting the icy rain fall onto her cheeks.

BOOK: Trimmed With Murder
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