Monday, April 28, 2014

A Dark and Stormy Knit

Author:  Anne Canadeo
Genre:  Mystery

Four Stars
Knitting graffiti, in Plum Harbor? Maggie Messina doubts it could ever happen in her quiet village. Until the new parking meters on Main Street are found covered with cat-faced cozies. In the dark of night, the mysterious Knit Kats have struck again! The infamous gang of stitching graffiti artists are totally harmless, and their pranks all in good fun. Or so Maggie and her friends think. Until a yarn-covered corpse is discovered a few days later—the tangles identical to Knit Kat handiwork.

These threads of evidence should be easy to follow. But the clever Knit Kats hide behind a website and secret identities. The murderer could be anyone. A familiar face in town, even a copy Kat. But when Maggie’s assistant, Phoebe, becomes the prime suspect, the knitting friends know the police have dropped a few stitches. With no time to rest on their needles, the Black Sheep set out to unmask the crafty killer. No simple task, when all Knit Kats look the same in the dark.
Maggie Messina owns a yarn shop in the small town of Plum Harbor.  As usual in what is termed 'cozy mysteries,' Maggie has a group of friends (I call them a posse) who sit around and talk about what's going on in town while they knit.  They call themselves the Black Sheep Knitters.  Then, a murder occurs and the posse spends their time trying to figure out 'whodunnit.'  Now, I know that sounds like I didn't enjoy the book, but quite the contrary; I'm just stating facts.  And this being the sixth book in the series, you'd expect Maggie to have friends, so no biggie there.  That being said, I did like it.
Well, to be honest, not at first.  This is my first Black Sheep Knitters book, and getting to read about the characters, I wasn't sure about Maggie.  It appeared to me that she didn't like animals in the beginning - she didn't allow them in her shop (and I have been in many needlecraft shops where there are 'mascot cats') which seemed kind of cold to me, because I am a huge animal lover, and most crafters (myself included) have some sort of pet, and she didn't even want her tenant to have one.  She also wasn't too generous about Lucy's dogs (she didn't seem to like them at all), but as the book progressed, she warmed up and so did I.  By the end of book Maggie and I were great friends.
Maggie shows up for work one morning - her shop is the ground floor in an old Victorian house - and sees that parking meters on the entire block have been covered with knitted cat covers.  She's pretty sure it's the work of a group of "knitting graffiti artists" called the Knit Kats, which she suggests - but doesn't confirm - to a local news reporter covering the scene.  Although it seems harmless enough, it ties in with the rest of the story pretty well.
Maggie's second story tenant in the Victorian is a young college student named Phoebe, who also works in the shop part-time and is a member of the Black Sheep Knitters.  Phoebe's friend Charlotte is a textile artist, and has some art pieces in a show at the local college and the group, to show support for Phoebe and her friend agree to attend.  While there, Charlotte's violent ex-boyfriend shows up, chases her from the show and the Knitters follow trying to rescue her, but don't get very far.  However, Charlotte does - she disappears completely.  Phoebe, worried about her friend, shows up at Charlotte's home unexpectedly only to find the body of a young woman wrapped in a knitted afghan, which resembles the work of the Knit Kats.
What should have been Charlotte isn't, and even though they are told to stay out of the investigation, everyone in the group wants to help Phoebe, who has been identified as 'a person of interest' in the crime, so they do what they can to help solve the murder and find the real killer.  It doesn't help that Phoebe has just broken up with her boyfriend and is miserable (especially with Valentines' Day so close), and her best friend now gone to places unknown.  Maggie does her best to keep Phoebe occupied and out of the investigation, but she knows it's pretty much a lost cause, even if she won't admit it to herself.
While I didn't feel that I really got to know the other characters well, they seemed to be a group of friends who truly cared about each other and what happens, and that's what friendships are about.  For myself, I will start with the first book and read my way through the series.
I received a free copy from the publisher but this in no way affected my review.

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