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Authors: Betty Hechtman

Knot Guilty

BOOK: Knot Guilty
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Berkley Prime Crime titles by Betty Hechtman

Crochet Mysteries










Yarn Retreat Mysteries




Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

A Penguin Random House Company


This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

Copyright © 2014 by Betty Hechtman.

Penguin 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 to continue to publish books for every reader.

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-14453-8

An application to register this book for cataloging has been submitted to the Library of Congress.

November 2014

Cover illustration by Cathy Gendron.

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.



Thanks to my editor, Sandy Harding, for once again suggesting just the right changes. Molly would have never lived if it hadn't been for my agent, Jessica Faust.

Amy Shelton of shared her booth with me at Stitches Midwest. It gave me a whole other view of a yarn show. I loved Amy's crocheted crown. It's something Adele would definitely appreciate. Thanks to Delma Myers for all her help with the Knit and Crochet Show. Thanks to Stacy of BeeLighted Fiber and Gifts for sharing her booth at the Vogue Knitting Live Show and showing me the knitting needles made out of shovel handles. Gwen Blakley Kinsler gave me a new perspective on the yarn world and the inside information on why crochet is the underdog.

A special thank-you to Linda Hopkins for her gracious help with the patterns. I don't know what I would do without her eagle eyes.

The Thursday Knit and Crochet Group of Rene Biedermann, Alice Chiredjian, Terry Cohen, Tricia Culkin, Clara Feeney, Sonia Flaum, Lily Gillis, Winnie Hineson, Linda Hopkins, Debbie Kratofil, Elayne Moschin, Paula Tesler, and Blanche Tutt offer warm friendship and lots of yarn info.

Roberta Martia has been a supporter and cheerleader since the first book. It's been a long time since my days at Roosevelt, but I'd like to thank Professor Dominic Martia for all that I learned from him. Though our group dispersed years ago, I am still grateful to Jan Gonder for her comma aid. And my family, Burl, Max, and Samantha, are essential recipe tasters. If they don't give me a thumbs-up, it's back to the drawing board.


Berkley Prime Crime titles by Betty Hechtman

Title Page



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

Crafts and Recipes

You know that saying about being careful what you wish for? My name is Molly Pink, and I can tell you it's one hundred percent true. Ever since my husband, Charlie, died, I've been saying that I want to try flying solo. To live without having to answer to anyone. You know, I could wear sweatpants with a hole in them and eat ice cream for dinner. I'd be the captain of my own ship.

I thought I was headed right to that lifestyle. I'd gotten past my grief and had started a new chapter in my life by getting the job at Shedd & Royal Books and More as the event coordinator/community relations person. But then I met Barry Greenberg and we had a relationship. Okay, maybe he was my boyfriend. It's hard for me to say that word, even in my mind. It just sounds so ridiculous since Barry is a homicide detective in his fifties.

You might notice I said
a relationship. Really it was off and on again and off again and on again. You get the picture. But now it was finally off forever.

Let me offer a little catch-up on that. During all the off and on again of our relationship, there had been the complication of my friendship with Mason Fields. Mason had always wanted it to be something more, but I had wanted it to stay the same.

Then, when Barry and I had yet another hiccup, we decided we would be better off as friends. Barry had seemed to accept it, but then he showed up and said he was walking away from the whole situation. He said the friendship thing was all a sham and I was the only one who didn't know it. Then he suggested I go out with Mason because I deserved better than what he, Barry, could offer.

It reminded me of the whole King Solomon story when two women were fighting over a baby and the king offered to cut it in half. One of the women stepped forward, relinquishing her claim rather than seeing the baby injured. The king knew that meant she loved the baby more and gave it to her. So, it seemed Barry was saying he cared more because he was so concerned with my happiness. But that didn't mean I was ready to resume our relationship.

I had never told Mason about Barry's gallant act. Actually, I had barely talked to Mason after that. It was all on my part and I'm not even sure why. He left messages and I didn't return them. Then the holidays hit and I got lost in work. Mason stopped trying to contact me. I can only imagine what he thought. In the end, I had let my social life go dark.

Assorted people had been staying with me for various reasons, but that had all ended as well.

The final step came when my son Samuel moved out—well, in—with his girlfriend. Though he didn't take his cats.

And suddenly there I was alone. At least almost alone. I had the two cats and two dogs: my terrier mix, Blondie, and Cosmo, a little black dog that was supposed to be Barry and his son's dog, but that's another story. So here at last was my chance to soar on my own wings. Do whatever I wanted. Answer to no one.

At first I was so busy with the holidays and everything at the bookstore, I didn't think much about being on my own. But it was January now, and as I once again looked around my cavernous living room, it all began to get to me. I made a tour of the three bedrooms on the other side of the house from mine. Only the one I used to keep all my yarn and crochet stuff in showed any signs of life. The other two were uncomfortably neat. My footsteps echoed as I walked into the kitchen. It was just as I'd left it when I went to bed. Just like yesterday and a lot of yesterdays before, there were no dishes in the sink, no ravaged refrigerator. No one had come knocking at my door in the middle of the night looking for comfort after a bad night with suspects. No one had called and suggested a fun outing. All the peace started to overwhelm me.

I made coffee for myself quickly. Did I want to sit around and revel in all this quiet and independence? No. I couldn't wait to get to work and the problems, the confusion, and most of all the people. I'd heard the statement that silence is deafening, and now I understood it. I needed some noise. I needed some upheaval in my life. Yes, I had learned my lesson about being careful what I wished for. I'd gotten it in spades and absolutely hated it. I knew what I had to do to stir up the pot of my life.

I didn't even drink the coffee in my kitchen. I filled a commuter cup and made sure the dry cat food bowl was full and located where the dogs couldn't help themselves. And I left.

It took a bit of doing to zip up my jacket while holding the coffee mug as I crossed the backyard. Even here in Southern California, January days are short and chilly. I probably seemed like a wimp for bringing it up when it was icy and snowy back east, but the dew had frozen on the grass.

The sun had already melted the thin layer of frost on the greenmobile, as I called my vintage blue green Mercedes.
sounded so much better than
. I ran the windshield wipers for a moment, and they got rid of the residue of moisture. One negative about my car: no cup holder, which meant I had to hold the commuter mug between my legs. I looked down at my usual khaki slacks and hoped I'd make it to work without any coffee stains.

A few minutes later, I pulled the car into the parking lot behind Shedd & Royal Books and More. Once I was inside, I inhaled deeply, noting the familiar fragrance of the paper in thousands of books, mixed with freshly brewed coffee coming in from the café, and nodded a greeting at Rayaad, our chief cashier.

The last of the holiday merchandise was gathered on a front table with a sale sign. Even after all these years it still seemed odd how the same merchandise looked so exciting before the holiday and irrelevant after. I mean, a chocolate Santa was still, at the heart, chocolate.

Any day we'd start putting up Valentine's Day decorations and sell the same type of chocolate the Santa was made out of shaped like hearts wrapped in red foil.

As I made my way through the store, I saw the playwrights' group gathered in a tight circle around their facilitator. The yarn department was in the back corner of the store, and along with handling events and community relations, it was my baby. I always liked walking in and seeing the feast of color from the cubbies of yarn. Ever since we'd put up a permanent worktable in the middle of the area, it was never empty.

I recognized a few faces of my fellow Hookers. That's hookers as in crochet. The Tarzana Hookers had been meeting at the bookstore since even before the yarn department had been added.

We exchanged a flurry of greetings just as Dinah Lyons caught up with me. She's my best friend, a fellow Hooker and an English instructor at the local community college. She slipped off her loden green boiled wool jacket and dropped it on a chair.

“I need to talk to you,” I said as we hugged each other. “I've decided to change my life.” Dinah's eyes snapped to attention as she got ready to listen. Then my voice dropped. “It'll have to wait.” Mrs. Shedd had just joined us. She was the “Shedd” in Shedd & Royal and my boss. This wasn't a usual gathering of the crochet group to work on projects. This was a meeting.

“Give me an update,” Mrs. Shedd said quickly. She never seemed to change. Her blond hair didn't have a hint of gray even though she was well into her sixties. She'd been wearing a soft pageboy style for so long, I bet her hair naturally fell into place when she washed it.

She didn't sit and seemed a little nervous, but that seemed to be her default emotion lately. Keeping a bookstore afloat these days wasn't easy. We were surviving, but only by broadening our horizons. Thanks to my efforts, the bookstore had become almost a community center. Besides the playwright group, I'd added other writing and book groups. We'd recently taken on hosting crochet-themed parties, which was turning into a nice success. And, of course, we had author events.

But what we were attempting this time was really a stretch and required an outlay of cash. “Tell me again why we're doing this,” my boss said, looking for reassurance.

Adele Abrams joined us as Mrs. Shedd was speaking. Adele was still dressed in her outfit from story time. Just guessing, but I bet she'd read
Good Morning, June
. It was a children's classic written in a different time when girls wore pinafores like the pink one Adele wore over a puffy-sleeved dress. She'd completed the look by forcing her brown hair into tiny little braids. Adele would have stood out even without the outfit. She was tallish and amply built, and her voice naturally went toward loud.

Before I could say anything, Adele began. “This is the chance of a lifetime. We are carrying the torch of crochet into the world of knitters.” Mrs. Shedd didn't look impressed. Who could blame her? She wasn't interested in us being pioneers as much as doing something that would make a profit and help the bookstore. I was relieved when CeeCee Collins slipped into the chair at the head of the table and took the floor away from Adele.

“I feel responsible for encouraging you to have the booth at the yarn show. I'm sure it's going to be a big success,” CeeCee said to my boss.

CeeCee was the real head of our crochet group, though Adele never quite accepted it. She was also a well-known actress who, after a long history of TV and film appearances, had started a whole new chapter in her career when she began hosting a reality show. Then she nabbed the part of Ophelia in the movie based on the super-hit series of books about a vampire who crocheted. We'd been hearing there was Oscar buzz about her performance since the movie had come out, but rumor is different from fact, and the actual Oscar nominations were going to be announced in the next couple of weeks. Needless to say, CeeCee was a little edgy.

As always, CeeCee was dressed to be photographed. She said she'd seen enough celebrities snapped in jeans and T-shirts with their hair sticking up to learn her lesson. But, she claimed it was a fine art, not to look too done. Kind of like her reality show. It was supposed to look real, but a lot of editing and planning went into what the audience ended up seeing.

CeeCee noticed the two women at the other end of the table who were not part of the group. They appeared to have no idea what was going on. CeeCee, in her typical gracious manner, explained that we were talking about the bookstore's upcoming booth at the Southern California Knit Style Show.

“This is a very big deal because it's the first year they're including crochet in the show. Before, everything was just about knitting. You know, knitting classes, fashion shows of knitted garments, design competitions for knitted pieces. There probably wasn't even a lonely crochet hook for sale in any of the vendors' booths in the marketplace.”

CeeCee made a slight bow with her head. “I'd like to think I had something to do with K.D.'s change of heart.” She explained to the women that K.D. Kirby put on the show along with being the publisher of a number of knitting magazines. “I was the only crocheter included in an article in
Knit Style
magazine about celebrity yarn crafters. I think hearing about how popular the craft is and seeing what wonderful things you can make made her realize what a mistake it was not to bring crochet into the show.”

The women nodded their heads in unison to show they were listening, though I noticed knitting needles sticking out of their tote bags. “So, this year there is going to be a crochet category in the design competition with yours truly as the judge.” CeeCee did another little nodding bow before adding that she was also going to be acting as the celebrity face of the show.

One of the women finally spoke. “So you mean you can do more with crochet than just make edging on something or use up scraps of yarn to make one of those afghans full of squares?”

Adele was squirming in her seat at their words. All of the Hookers thought that crochet was the more interesting yarn craft, but Adele took it even further. She thought crochet was superior to knitting, and she wasn't afraid to say it.

CeeCee put her hand on Adele's shoulder. It looked like it was just for reassurance, but I knew it was to hold her in her seat. “Why yes, crochet has become quite a fashion statement. Designers have taken intricate lace patterns that had been used to make doilies and are blowing them out into shrugs.” CeeCee had taken her hand off Adele's shoulder, and my bookstore coworker took the opportunity to pop out of her chair and start talking.

“I'm going to be teaching one of the crochet classes,” Adele said, doing an imitation of CeeCee's bow. “A stash buster wrap.” The women didn't seem to know what to make of Adele's statement and looked back to CeeCee for some kind of reassurance.

CeeCee dropped her voice and spoke directly to Adele. “We need to talk about that.”

Since the booth was sort of my baby, I jumped in and told Mrs. Shedd how we'd come up with a plan to bring shoppers to our booth. “We're going to teach people how to make a little granny square pin with some beads for decoration.” I was glad I had brought a sample and showed it to my boss and the women.

“That's wonderful,” one of them said. “I bet a lot of people will want to make one of those.”

BOOK: Knot Guilty
10.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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