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by Peggy Ehrhart
Kensington Books, February 2021
280 pages
ISBN: 1496733894

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In Peggy Ehrhart's latest "knitting and nibbles" cozy, Knitty Gritty Murder, Pamela Paterson and her good friend Bettina Fraser are enjoying coffee and crumb cake when Marlene Pepper makes an unsettling entrance. She has just discovered a body in the local community garden ... a body strangled with a circular knitting needle. Marlene is understandably upset. Not only does she know the victim, Jenny Miller; she's the chair of that group of gardeners. She is very afraid that this will cast serious shade on the organization.

Later that evening, Pamela and Bettina join another coterie: the Knit and Nibble group, which is meeting at Holly Perkins's house. Claire Cummings is a potential new member; her husband Dennis is the new owner of the local hardware store. Roland DeCamp is the only male member. This is not uncommon in knitting groups, although it is becoming less of a rarity. Nell Bascomb and Karen Dowling round out the group. Each has a project to work on for an hour and Holly, as the hostess this time is responsible for the "nibble" part.

Again, a fairly common set-up for knitting groups, although knitting for only an hour sounds awfully short to avid knitters. Although it's not part of the name, gossip is almost always a part of knitting groups, no matter what it's called.

K&N is no exception, although Nell discourages it as "not constructive". Nonetheless, over the next several days, the various members of the group all find ways to discuss the murder with Pamela or Bettina. Names and motives are floated, discussed, discarded. And then Jenny's mother Janice is found in the same place, killed the same way.

How does this change the possibilities in terms of means, motive, and opportunity? Pamela and Bettina have some ideas.

Ehrhart has written seven mysteries in this fairly specific sub-genre of the cozy or traditional. In short, she knows how to do it. The almost prerequisite knitting pattern and recipe are included. (But really, why not the champagne cake recipe rather than or with the Rhubarb Cheesecake Pie?)

There are also some low-grade romance possibilities, although not as much as some writers incorporate. Ehrhart plays fair with the reader; her red herrings work and the clues she leaves are subtle but not invisible. The relationships between the members of K&N are believable, especially for a group as disparate in age as these folks are.

All in all, Knitty Gritty Murder is a pleasant read, especially if this kind of cozy is your cuppa.

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, March 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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