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As autumn washes over coastal Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, the Seaside Knitters anticipate a relaxing off-season. But when murder shatters the peace, the craftiest bunch in town must unravel a killer’s deadly scheme . . .

After retrieving fresh lobster nets from a local Laundromat, Cass Halloran rushes to attend a last-minute gathering with her knitting circle. But Cass can’t stop worrying about the lonely boy seen hanging around the dryers, and the school uniform he left behind in a hurry. When the ladies return the lost clothing the next day, they find the child and his younger sister alone, seemingly abandoned by their mother . . .

The knitters intend to facilitate a family reunion, not investigate a crime. But the death of Dolores Cardozo, a recluse from the edge of town, throws the group for a loop. Especially when the missing mother and one of their own become tied to the victim’s hidden fortune—and her murder . . .

Before scandalous secrets break bonds and rumors tear Sea Harbor apart, the Seaside Knitters need to string together the truth about Dolores—while preventing a greedy murderer from making another move!

* Includes a knitting pattern *

The Mystery of Mystery Ideas

Sally Goldenbaum

Where do you get your ideas?

It’s one of the most common questions I hear at conferences and book gatherings. And one of the most common answers (one I’ve given myself) is this: “From life. From experience. Well, from everywhere.”
Well, sure they do. But where exactly do they come from?
The more pressing question came from a recent interviewer who thought, rightly so, that “from life” was a tad vague.

So I started thinking about where those little, absolutely essential, sometimes elusive, ideas came from. I began with my most recent book, Murder Wears Mittens—the easiest to recollect. The idea for Dolores, the reclusive and pivotal character in the book, came to me easily: she jumped right off the pages of a fascinating book of obituaries.

I began reading NYT obits years ago, not for book ideas but because I found them poignant, eloquent and revealing. These obituaries, lovingly written, celebrate the lives, not the deaths, of ordinary people like you and me, pulling out goodness, eccentricities, a zest for life, and sometimes remarkable deeds.
But it wasn’t until a recent rereading of some of the Times obits that a light bulb went on, and I realized I had a great new idea source for mysteries. One woman in particular jumped right off the page and suggested I pay her more attention. So I did. I listened and read, and then I added my own colors to her, painting her life in the hues and shades of Sea Harbor. And when the paint was dry, Dolores Francesca Maria Cardozo was born. And with her life, inspired from an obituary, was spun a tale of mystery and murder.

If one idea came from the NYT book of obituaries, where do other ideas that turn into books come from?

I delved into Murder Wears Mittens again, looked for the source of other ideas. Dolores didn’t carry the book all alone. Early in the story, Cass, a lobsterwoman, is washing her smelly fishing nets in a Laundromat where she discovers children’s clothes tangled in with her load. I remember precisely where I got that idea: from a writer friend who had found a child’s skirt mixed in with her own laundry. She thought it would make a great beginning of a mystery. I did, too. So I snatched it up (with her ok) and wove it into Murder Wears Mittens. Of course I had no idea at the time whose clothes they were and how it factored into a mystery that already featured a recluse who lived on the edge of town. But at the time it didn’t matter. It was such a nice scene. And it spurred the seaside knitters on as they hunted down the owner of the clothes.

Other books, other ideas. Did I snatch them from a friend while brainstorming? Read them in a newspaper? Or maybe from something I overheard in Starbucks? Probably all of the above.

And some actually come from my own life. I remember one in particular. It was early fall and I was walking along beautiful Niles Beach on Cape Ann. It was dusk, the beach nearly deserted, when I spotted a clean, empty car seat sitting on the sand, no baby or mother in sight. The next day the car seat was still there. There was still no baby, but now the seat was sprinkled with sand. It began to bother me, a niggling fear that something was wrong. And the third day, following a windy nor’easter the night before, the car seat had been flung across the beach road and was now filled with water and seaweed.

I needed to know how the car seat came to be there, so I wrote about it in Angora Alibi and left its mystery to the women of Sea Harbor to solve.

Izzy, then pregnant, took charge when she spotted the abandoned car seat on the beach several days in a row and finally, riddled with unease and hormones, tossed it into her trunk. But the baby? Where was he or she? The entire Angora Alibi mystery evolved from that one scene. That one walk I took along Niles Beach.

So now back to the drawing board as I ponder the next book, the next idea (s), the next adventure I can put in the capable hands of Izzy, Nell, Cass and Birdie. Take it away ladies. . .

About the Author

Sally Goldenbaum was born on the shores of Lake Michigan, in Manitowoc, WI, to a homemaker mother and a ship-building father. Although she now lives in landlocked Prairie Village, KS, her longing for lakes and the sea is satisfied in part by writing the USA Today bestselling Seaside Knitters Mystery series, set on Cape Ann, MA. She is a sometime philosophy teacher, a knitter, and an editor, and the author of more than thirty novels. Her fictional knitting friends are teaching her the intricacies of women’s friendship, the mysteries of small-town living, and the very best way to pick up dropped stitches on a lacy knit shawl.

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