Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fleece Navidad - Maggie Sefton

Fleece Navidad
A Knitting Mystery
Maggie Sefton
Berkley Prime Crime


The holiday season in Fort Connor, CO, means a surge in business for House of Lambspun, a knitting and spinning shop. Everyone wants to complete their holiday projects. Claudia Miller, newcomer to both the shop and the town quickly makes friends. She offhandedly tells the shop regulars that she’s been married and widowed three times, then coaxes reticent Lizzie to join her in some activities at the senior center. Claudia is openly looking for lucky husband number four.

Her introduction quickly sours when Sheila Miller, daughter of Claudia’s last husband, accuses Claudia of killing not only her father, but the first two husbands, as well. Claudia arrived in town in a stolen card, using a stolen credit card. Claudia has plausible reasons for all of this, but it still looks bad. Sheila’s version of events, even those concerning the previous two husbands, seems at least as persuasive.

The shop regulars, including amateur sleuth Kelly Flynn, are further divided when they learn that Claudia’s newest conquest is a retired professor. The same retired professor who, until Claudia’s arrival, had been seriously dating librarian Juliet Renfrow. Juliet is clearly devastated by this turn of events, but the two are clearly working things out; Juliet is wearing an engagement ring. All this makes Juliet’s death, the result of a hit-and-run, all the more tragic. There were no witnesses, but Sheila is quick to believe that Claudia must have been behind the wheel. It’s up to Kelly to uncover the truth and restore harmony to her circle of knitters.

It seems to be a bit of a trend lately for cozy mysteries to spend a lot of time at the start of the book on the everyday lives and backgrounds of the characters. That’s fine, up to a point, but if I’m reading a mystery, I’d like to get to the actual mystery. In this murder mystery, there’s no murder until nearly halfway through the book. I don’t expect a dead body on page one of every mystery, but this seems a bit excessive, as I look forward to the following of clues and solving of the crime. Obviously, this is purely subjective, and I have no doubt that many readers disagree.

For those familiar with the series (A DEADLY YARN, A KILLER STITCH, DYER CONSEQUENCES) this is a welcome visit to old friends during the holidays. Claudia’s possible black widow background puts an interesting spin on the proceedings. As always, the scenes that take place around the knitting table in the shop ring absolutely true, and any book in this series makes me want to pick up my own needles. For those who are so inclined, there are several knitting patterns and recipes included. I see a batch of gingersnap cookies in my very near future.

Rating: 6 ½
October 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22360-4 (hardcover)


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