Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book Review: The Black Sheep Knitting Group Mysteries by Ann Canadeo

The great cozy hunt continues!

Back when this quest started, I found A Stitch Before Dying, by Anne Canadeo and I enjoyed it enough that I thought I'd give the series another try. They were just what the doctor ordered: Light, pleasant, craft-centered mysteries. A group of good friends, the Black Sheep Knitting Group, stumble across assorted murders and, for various reasons, end up working to solve them before the police do. They are quick, light reads, perfect for the days when I just want to be entertained while I relax.

The books could use a bit more copy-editing. Knit, Purl, Die, in particular, had a number of minor grammatical glitches, and every book had at least one minor slip up, nothing that affected the mystery, one name changed mid-paragraph, someone had "more than an hour" to prepare for a 7 PM meeting when the time given was 6:30, someone else “leaned over” to give a kiss when he was lying on the couch and she was standing up. Nothing major, but noticeable, all the same.

These were minor irritants, however, in overall enjoyable books. The women in the Black Sheep Knitting Group have a believable friendship that is warm and real. Their discussions ring true as conversations between friends, they seem like nice, ordinary people that one might meet, and there is just the right amount of knitting talk: Enough to verify that this is a real knitting group and to pull the reader into the shop, but not so much that it might as well be a knitting instruction book. This is a difficult balancing act, one not every author can pull off. It’s tempting for authors to wander off into deep digressions and precise descriptions; Canadeo, bless her, knows how to restrain herself. There are patterns and recipes at the end of each book, for those interested in making the crafts or delicious dinners mentioned in the books.

The only problem I have with the series is its length. Right now, it consists of:

While my Pretty One Knits: Everyone is introduced and Maggie, the shop owner, is the prime suspect, and for very good reason. Her good friends rally around to save her.

Knit, Purl, Die: A new member and good friend of the Black Sheep Knitters is found, drowned in her pool. All the evidence points to an accidental death caused by drink and an overdose of pain killers. The group isn’t quite ready to believe this, however.

Til Death Do Us Purl: A young bride needs help finishing her hand-knitted gown on time. The Black Sheep Knitters help her finish her gown, and then find themselves working to find out who murdered the groom just after the wedding.

A Stitch Before Dying: Maggie is invited to give knitting lessons at a new spa and hotel. The Black Sheep Knitters come along for moral support and to enjoy the amenities. Unfortunately, the charismatic owner of the hotel is murdered while they are there. Since Maggie’s friend is involved, so are the Black Sheep Knitters.

And that’s it!

Now I have to wait wait until The Silence of the Llamas comes out next year, in January.

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