Friday, December 3, 2010

A HOLIDAY YARN by Sally Goldenbaum

When I read a book like Sally Goldenbaum's A Holiday Yarn, I know I'm not the target audience.  

The target audience includes knitters such as the members of the knitting club who find Pamela Pisano's body. Pamela is a rich-whatever-you-would-call-her, the editior of a well-known decorating magazine and the granddaughter of a well-known, now-deceased resident of Sea Harbor, Main. 

Two knitters find her body sprawled in the snow.  It appears she has committed suicide. 

One of those who find her, her cousin Mary, is working to make the old man's mansion into a bed and breakfast, and the whole family is struggling not to tear each other apart as they divide up the old man's publishing empire and money.

In other words, this sounds like a routine cozy, but it is better than that.  It is well plotted.  It ends with several realistic and heart-warming events.

There is another murder along the way. (Both people killed are scoundrels.)  And there are the usual kinds of things that happen in small towns.  

One older woman hates the idea of turning the old man's house into a bed and breakfast.  She mounts a virulent campaign to keep that from happening. She is one of the most interesting characters in the book.

All in all, this book is well-written.  It portrays believable people many of whom I got to know and like.  And it ends with heart-tugging things appropriate to the Christmas season.

I reacted to this book as I do to many (even good) cozies.  I would cut fifty pages out of the middle of most cozies, the part where the people sit around, drink coffee, knit, and talk about the clues.  

I want to see things happen.  Often I skip a little chunk in the middle of a cozy and try to keep with the action, and that's what I did with this book.

I'm glad I did.  The book got stronger and stronger.  It surprises at the end. I didn't guess the killer. The events were heart-rending. 

The author's  clear, readable style also helps.  When you read a book or two a week, as I do, you soon learn that some writers have a way of writing that moves you along.  Sally Goldenbaum does that.  I respect her for it.

So, I recommend this book.  Even for folks like me--not a woman, not a knitter, not even someone who thinks much like the people in the book--this book was fun to read and well worth reading.


Naomi Johnson said...

That's it! You've identified why I generally don't care for cozies, and I didn't even know it: that 50-or-so pages where nothing happens!

Joe Barone said...

Once upon a time, years ago, I read all or almost all of Agatha Christie before it occured to me that I want more action than she usually provides. She can write good action. Some of her books move right on, but the others taught me what I look for most in what I read.

I suspect most cozy writers follow her example.

CarolNWong said...

Glad that you still liked the cozy. I am a cozy fan and a knitter! What I do is to alternate between action filled suspense and thriller mysteries and cozies. For me, cozies are great when I am sick and need something soothing like a warm blanket.

I have read as many Agatha Christie books as I could then I got tired of reading about morels!


Joe Barone said...

I did like it. I read cozies as a break from heavier mysteries. I've always read a wide variety of mystery books. That started (as it was for so many) with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew (along with listening to The Shadow on the radio) when I was a kid.