Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Unraveled - a Knitting Mystery by Maggie Sefton

Published by Berkley Prime Crime

A bit of fun, a bit of romance, a bit of history, a bit of relaxation, a bit of underhandedness, and a corpse no one will miss! This is #9 of the Knitting series, but to be fair in my review I must say it is several years since I read one of Maggie's series, #2 "Needled to Death", so I am coming into this cozy series with little knowledge of what has gone before. Just the same, I feel attuned to the book. I'm delighted that this series takes place among the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, a beautiful location with lots of inspiration for a book of this type. I can almost associate the colours of the landscapes with the colours of the yarns featured in this series.

The story is centered around a mixed group of friends, all ages, male and female, with several interests in common. Added to the mix, an author of Western History has come to town as Curt's house guest and the whole group immediately takes to him. These friends sound wonderful, I would love to meet them in person. Maggie Sefton brings her characters alive with their speech, a trick of emphasis that I could hear quite plainly in my mind. The hub at the center is Lambspun, a yarn and knitting shop with a room where friends can gather, knitting and chatting, with a convenient café attached to the shop.

Though most of these friends are knitters, with Mimi and Burt taking turns at the register and spinning skeins into balls, they enjoy each other's company in sports, barbecues, and sharing their moments good or bad, in a complete group or just two or three. Kelly Flynn, the amateur sleuth of the group, is trying to deal with her heartbreak over her ex-boyfriend Steve, who walked out on her in #8 "Skein of the Crime." In #9, the current book, her friends, who are also his friends, are trying to get them back together. Steve lives in Denver, and sometimes manages to come to town to visit with some of them.

In Unraveled, Kelly is deep into her work as CPA for Arthur Housemann, a land developer and investor. She often stays in Denver rather than commuting if she is needed again the next day. She is, in essence, hiding out from her anger and hurt because of Steve by throwing herself into her work. The recession has hit the community of Fort Connor hard, as it has elsewhere, so when real estate agent Jennifer gets a client for a large piece of ranchland, she is excited to find that the client is none other than Kelly's boss. A cinch of a sale, since he is offering full price, or is it? The property owner has made a fortune out of being dishonest and tough.

When Jennifer races to present her offer after hearing there is another offer being submitted that would defeat any other presented, she and Kelly see a truck pull out of the driveway and come barreling down the road toward them. When they pull into the driveway, Jen goes in and suddenly yells for Kelly. She has found the owner all right, but he's dead. It appears to be a suicide, but why now?

This book has a different approach from some cozies, in that the corpse does not come into the story right at the beginning. Characters are all fleshed out and continuity is primary in the early part of the book. In the remainder of the book, the discovery of the corpse takes us in a different direction. Kelly has her own little trigger for going into sleuthing mode. She gets a kind of buzzing that grows more insistent if she ignores it. She has already been alerted by the buzzing that this is more than a suicide, and launches into her own investigation. With two prime suspects, it is an interesting journey to reach a final conclusion.

I enjoyed the book and its nuances. Definitely a lighter read in many places, the camaraderie is a pleasant set-up for the mystery to come. I'm looking forward to the next book to learn the fate of Kelly and Steve. As a bonus at the end of the book there is a knitting pattern and a recipe.
Review based on Advance Reading Copy (ARC)

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