Image courtesy MaggieSefton.com
In her sixth Berkley Prime Crime Novel and second Kelly Flynn mystery, Maggie Sefton sets Fleece Navidad‘s main sleuth, Kelly Flynn, to the task of finding clues to solve the hit-and-run of librarian Juliet Renfrow. Beginning at Thanksgiving and ending at Christmas in the town of Fort Connor, Colorado (which is obviously styled after Fort Collins), the activities of Kelly and the other characters center around a knitting shop named House of Lambspun, and all the primary characters are knitters, crotcheters, spinners, weavers, or some other kind of fiber artist, either as a profession or a hobby.
That uncanny coincidence of so many characters having the same passion bothered me. I suppose it’s possible, when fibre arts is a dearly loved activity or profession, that close friendships are initiated on that commonality. Because it’s not my experience shouldn’t cloud my opinion of the book. But when little mini knitting lessons enter what is supposed to be the plot, I get irritated. If I want to learn how to finish a hat on double pointed needles, I will seek out a tutorial, not a novel. I think the lessons and the storytelling should be kept separate.
Other portions of Sefton’s novel were equally unpalatable to me. For instance, a newcomer to Fort Connor seems to have joined volunteer activities and made close friendships within weeks of her arrival, all while still lving in a hotel. That seems unlikely to me. Sefton also tends to be heavy-handed in drawing her characters. I felt hit over the head with the fact that Kelly loves coffee and that Claudia is gregarious and emotional. Sefton repeats concepts and ideas to the point where I actually said out loud, “I get it already!” and “You’ve said that twice now!”
Since this book is intended to be a mystery, it is especially unfortunate that Sefton is so obvious with her clues that there is little doubt of the guilty party, even before the characters have caught on. By half way through the book, I knew who had killed Juliet and why.
If you’re looking for a good mystery, stick with Agatha Christie. For a knitting tutorial, check your local craft store. For a well-written novel, look anywhere else but here.