Authors: Betty Hechtman
Praise for the Yarn Retreat Mysteries
Silence of the Lamb's Wool
“If you haven't read this series yet, I highly recommend giving it a go. The mystery will delight you, and afterwards you'll be itching to start a knitting or crochet project of your own!”
Cozy Mystery Book Reviews
“Good characters I hope to see more ofÂ .Â .Â . The characters are developing well and the story line holds tightâand the book ends with a cliffhanger question.”
Kings River Life Magazine
“What a fun readÂ .Â .Â . The story is well plotted and there are enough suspects to satisfy any cozy mystery reader.”
“EngagingÂ .Â .Â . and quite difficult to put downÂ .Â .Â . An excellent read and highly recommended.”
Open Book Society
Yarn to Go
“A cozy mystery that you won't want to put down. It combines cooking, knitting, and murder in one great book!”
“The California seaside is the backdrop to this captivating cozy that will have readers heading for the yarn store in droves.”
Debbie's Book Bag
“A nicely knitted yarn where the setting was idyllic.”
“What a great start to a new series. But I would expect nothing less from the very talented Betty Hechtmanâauthor of the Crochet Mysteries. This was a real page-turner.”
Praise for Betty Hechtman's National Bestselling Crochet Mysteries
“Will warm the reader like a favorite afghan.”
âEarlene Fowler, national bestselling author
“Get hooked on this new author!Â .Â .Â . Who can resist a sleuth named Pink, a slew of interesting minor characters, and a fun fringe-of-Hollywood setting?”
“Readers couldn't ask for a more rollicking read.”
“FansÂ .Â .Â . will enjoy unraveling the knots leading to the killer.”
“A likeable lead protagonist who has reinvented herself one stitch at a time.”
Genre Go Round Reviews
“Classic cozy fareÂ .Â .Â . Crocheting pattern and recipe are just the icing on the cake.”
“Hechtman's charming crochet mystery series is clever and lively.”
Berkley Prime Crime titles by Betty Hechtman
HOOKED ON MURDER
DEAD MEN DO
OR BY CROOK
IF HOOKS COUL
FOR BETTER OR
Yarn Retreat Mysteries
YARN TO GO
OF THE LAMB'S WOOL
WOUND UP IN MURDER
An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
WOUND UP IN MURDER
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright Â© 2015 by Betty Hechtman.
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eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-18712-2
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / July 2015
Cover illustration by Patricia Castelao.
Cover design by Rita Frangie.
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.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The recipes contained in this book are 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 recipes contained in this book.
My first thank-you always goes to my editor, Sandy Harding, because her touch always makes my manuscripts better. I am forever grateful to my agent, Jessica Faust, because she has always been there for me.
Thank you to Linda Hopkins for doing such a great job helping me with the patterns. What would I do without you?
I appreciate my eternal cheerleaders Roberta and Dominic Martia. The Thursday group of knitters and crocheters offers me yarn information and friendship. Thank you, Rene Biederman, Alice Chiredijan, Terry Cohen, Trish Culkin, Clara Feeney, Sonia Flaum, Lily Gillis, Winnie Hineson, Linda Hopkins, Debbie Kratofil, Reva Mallon, Elayne Moschin and Paula Tesler.
And of course, thanks to my family, Burl, Max and Samantha. You guys are still the best recipe tasters!
“This time it's going to be different. This time I'm prepared. I know what the retreat is about. No more depending on one person to lead the workshops. And I have help with the other stuff, too.” I looked to my audience to see his reaction. Julius, my sleek black cat, blinked his yellow eyes and jumped down from the bathroom cabinet. Did that mean he didn't believe me?
I put away the toothbrush and gave myself a last look in the mirror. Did I believe myself? What I said was true. I was definitely better prepared than I'd been for the first two retreats. Wasn't I going to a meeting with my two workshop leaders this very morning to go over the final details?
But me putting on yarn retreats? It's not what Iâor anyone who knew me, especially my motherâwould have expected, given my rather spotty career history. A semester of law school was enough for me to know that being a lawyer wasn't for me. I'd tried being a teacher, actually a substitute
teacher at a private school. I did it for a couple of years and then I'd had enough. I baked desserts at a bistro for six months. I would have stayed longer but the place went out of business. Then there was the temp work. At least it wasn't boring. I gave out samples of new products on street corners in downtown Chicago and spritzed perfume on shoppers in several department stores. The best of the bunch was my time at the detective agency, where I was either an assistant detective or detective's assistant, depending on who you were talking to. If you were talking to me, the title would definitely be assistant detective. Mostly what I did was phone interviews, but I loved it. Everything might have been different if my boss, Frank, had been able to keep me on.
But you can't change the past. So in an effort to make a fresh startâthat means when the temp work dried up, I'd had to move back to my parents' apartment in the Hancock Building and I needed to get out of thereâl had relocated to my aunt Joan's guest house almost two thousand miles away on the edge of California's Monterey Peninsula. In no time, my aunt had helped me line up a gig baking desserts for a local restaurant called the Blue Door and making muffins for the assorted coffee spots in town. With the chilly temperatures and almost constant cloudy skies, coffee spots were big in Cadbury by the Sea.
So how did I end up putting on yarn retreats? Yarn2Go was my aunt's business, but just months after I'd moved into her guest house, she was killed in a hit-and-run accident. She left everything to me, including her business.
The next question is usually, what is a yarn retreat? The yarn part refers to a yarn craft, which so far has been knitting. I can practically see my mother's eyes flying upward at the thought. She's a cardiologist and it's pretty clear she thinks this apple has fallen very far from the tree. Her favorite line seems to be
“When I was your age , I was a doctor, a wife and a mother, and you're what?” It helps her case that until I inherited the business, I didn't know which end of a knitting needle was up.
Now after two retreats, I definitely know about knitting needles. Mostly that I don't really like the ones that are long and come in pairs. It's circular needles all the way for me. And although I can't knit as well as the retreaters, I'm holding my own and have samples of my work to prove it. And every time I finish something, I e-mail a picture to my mother. Yes, I might have an issue with proving that I can stick with something and finish it.
And it might be obvious I have a few issues with my mother. On the other hand, there is my father. He's a pediatrician and much easier to get along with. Of course, that could be because his patients are still in their formative years and he looks at me in the same way.
That covers the yarn part of the business. Now for the retreat part. It's really a vacation with a purpose. My group gets to learn something new, and has lots of time to hang out with other yarn lovers while they all work on their craft. They also get to enjoy the other activities put on by Vista Del Mar, the hotel and conference center where the retreats are held, conveniently located across the street from where I live.
But back to the present. Julius looked up at me from the floor. The cat kept surprising me, but then he was the first pet I had ever had. It had been all his decision. I had seen him around the neighborhood, but one day he showed up at my door and invited himself in. Did that make me his pet?
My impression of cats pre-Julius was that they were aloof and didn't really have a lot of interaction with their humans. Julius had made his presence felt from day one, and as the weeks had turned into months, he'd become my shadow when I was home.
He followed me into the room my aunt had used as an office. It had taken me a while, but I had moved into the main house.
sounds a lot grander than it is. For that matter,
does, too. The guest house was actually a converted garage, and the main house had just two bedrooms, one of which was this office.
My aunt's creations were all over the little room. My favorite was the crocheted lion that guarded the desk. Julius jumped up on the small love seat and curled up against another of my aunt's creations, a granny square afghan. How lucky that the bright colors were in the middle of the motifs with rows of black yarn around the edges. All that black yarn camouflaged the cat hairs Julius so generously deposited. He watched as I picked up the red tote bag with
emblazoned on the front. This bag and its contents were a sample for the upcoming retreat. I emptied the contents to look them over once again. There were several large skeins of yarn and then a number of smaller balls of yarn. All of them were in different colors and textures. A small plastic bag came out as well. It contained an assortment of beads and charms.
“We're calling this retreat Mystery Bags,” I said in case Julius was interested. The plan was that each bag would have a different selection of yarn and embellishments. I put everything back into the red tote thinking about the upcoming meeting with my helpers to go over the plan for the projects. A large manila envelope fell off the desk as I picked up the tote bag.
I stared at it on the floor for a moment before retrieving it. I was about to put it back where it had been, but then I stopped and emptied the contents on the dark wood desk.
How many times had I emptied this envelope, looked at the contents and wondered what to do? The photo of the
infant with a teddy bear was old and the colors faded, but I was certain the baby was a girl by the bow in her wisps of hair. A small white envelope had
written across the front. Inside there was a clump of shiny dark hair with the roots still attached. Another much older envelope that had been sealed and opened had
written in faded ink. At the bottom
was written in fresh ink, no doubt referring to traces left when the envelope was licked to seal. And last was the ledger sheet from the long-closed Cadbury Bank. It was marked as a sign-in sheet to access safety-deposit boxes. What made it noteworthy was the fact that Edmund Delacorte had signed in for Box 273, and then a few lines down Mary Jones had signed in to access the same number.
“It was a money drop,” I said. “It was a way for Edmund Delacorte to pay off his baby mama.” I chuckled at the term that was so contemporary and would have sounded so odd on July 25, 1962, when this list was created. “Or at least I think it was.”
Why did this matter all these years later? First you had to understand that the Delacorte family was like the royal family of Cadbury by the Sea. They had owned fishing boats, a cannery and a lot of land. Edmund Delacorte had been the sole owner of Vista Del Mar. He was married with a son when he died a couple of years after the date on the ledger sheet. His will had been very specific that Vista Del Mar was to go to his children. Barely a year after he died, his wife and son were killed in an accident. The hotel and conference center went back into the family pot. But if Edmund had fathered another child, she might be able to claim Vista Del Mar was hers as well as a portion of the family fortune.
I had no birth date, but it seemed likely that the baby
in the photograph was now in her mid-fifties. I thought that I could track down the mother. I checked the Cadbury census records, which were definitely old school, and found several women named Mary Jones. The problem was that their ages didn't fit with the age of the mother of the heir. I had even discreetly tried to find an employee from the long-closed bank who might have a memory of the woman. I already knew Edmund made his deposits just before the regular staff went to lunch, no doubt realizing there would be a rotating group who filled in during the lunch break, when his mistress came to pick up her money.
It was more than fifty years ago and the one former bank employee I had been able to locate had a foggy memory of someone coming in during lunchtime, but the woman always wore a big hat and sunglasses.
Julius gave me a look of reproach. Was he wondering what I was doing with the envelope anyway? The appearance of an heir would stir everything up. Did the Delacorte sisters want to find out they had to share their fortune with their brother's love child and relinquish the ownership of Vista Del Mar? The answer to that was easy, no. What about the rest of the town? They seemed to resist change, so I imagine they would probably prefer to leave things as they were. Maybe it was because I was new to the town and wasn't so concerned with keeping the status quo, but I thought Edmund's secret baby deserved the chance to get what her father rightfully left her. Even if I had hit a dead end.
“You are the only one who knows about this.” I sat down on the small leather couch and stroked his neck. He leaned into my touch and began to purr. This living with a cat was an unfolding mystery. His displays of affection still surprised and touched me. “Well, at least I know you won't go blabbing to anyone.”
He climbed into my lap and left a dusting of his short black hairs on my dark-wash jeans. “Mary Jones,” I said with a disbelieving shake of my head. “Obviously it's a fake name.” Julius looked up at me as if to concur.
“This is where my experience working at the detective agency comes in handy.” Was the cat rolling his eyes now? Could cats even roll their eyes? “Okay so maybe I only did phone interviews and occasionally stood in for surveillance, but my boss, Frank, said more than once that when people used fake names, the initials were usually real. So all I have to do is find the right woman with the initials
and hope she'll lead me to her daughter. That really narrows it down, doesn't it?” I punctuated my comment with a hopeless shrug.
Julius decided he'd had enough affection. He abruptly stood up and stretched, pressing his paws into my thigh before he jumped down. He looked back over his shoulder at me and blinked. Was that the cat way of saying a sarcastic “Good luck”?
Who knew if this M.J. was even still alive? She'd be in her seventies by now, and maybe she didn't want the world to know about her indiscretion. Without her, there was no way to know what the baby's name was, and all the DNA meant nothing. Why was I even bothering with it? Maybe everybody was right. Maybe it should be left under the rug.
“I'm talking to a cat,” I said out loud in disbelief, throwing up my hands. Not that Julius noticed. With his tail held high, he walked out the office door and into the hall. I didn't have to be a cat specialist to know where he was headedâthe kitchen with hopes of a breakfast of stink fish.