Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: A Dark and Stormy Knit by Anne Canadeo

A while back, when I was hunting for new cozies to read, I came across Anne Canadeo's Black Sheep Knitting Mystery series (series review here), and it was just what the doctor ordered: A nice, cozy, crafty group of friends who enjoyed good meals and good company while solving mysteries along the way. In many ways, it still is, but the copy-editing problems that have plagued the series since day one have not only not been solved, I think they've gotten worse.

The series has a lot going for it, and A Dark and Stormy Knit is no exception. In this entry, Maggie and her friends have three overlapping mysteries to solve: The first is the question of who put the somewhat sinister-looking knitted cats on the parking meters down town. The group agrees that this was creative, but they still wonder who did it, then one of the group's younger friends, Charlotte, goes missing, and another young woman is found murdered in her apartment—wrapped in a knitted piece that looks entirely too like the pranksters' work. Since Maggie's assistant, Phoebe, was friends with Charlotte, the mystery is personal, and the group sets out to solve it with their usual gossip, crafting, and casual sleuthing along the way.

I love this mixed-age group of friends who share a craft in common. That is one good thing about crafting groups—they tend to bring people from different backgrounds together. These women are very comfortable with each other and able to relax in their friendship and while interpersonal drama can make for good reading, so can good friendships where everyone is able to rely on everyone else.

If Canadeo doesn't knit herself, she certainly spends time around people who do. These sound like people who love and know their hobby. I don't knit myself, but I do craft, and I enjoyed vicariously sharing their peaceful zen knitting moments. They also eat lots of really tasty food (some recipes included), and I do love a nice, peaceful book meal.

Canadeo has also moved away from the antagonistic relationship with the police. The first book may have featured the stereotypical hostile and stupid chief of police, but by A Dark and Stormy Knit, the group is interacting with a pair of capable, courteous detectives. One does have to wonder how long retired-policeman Joe is going to be sharing in the station gossip now that these capable folk are on the job and surely aware of where the women are getting their inside information, but that is a minor caveat: If one reads cozies, especially the type that has puns in the title, one has to accept that the amateur sleuth has some source, and the source may be unlikely. In any case, having the detectives developed further added to the book's enjoyment.

Also, while Canadeo still has her characters text and email one another frequently, she has stopped summarizing plot developments in each piece of communication which makes the tale flow more smoothly than previous books.

On the other hand, the book really, really needed some serious copy-editing. Canadeo seems never to have met a sentence fragment that she didn't like, and these aren't even the "usual" fragments—subordinate clauses isolated from the rest of the sentence by periods or descriptive phrases left stranded through the intervention of a period. I'm almost used to ignoring those, at least, up to a point. These are simply sentences mutilated by the random application of periods. It makes the reading rhythm choppy and leaves the reader (or this reader, anyway) shaking her fists at the sky—or at least at the publishing house. I thought part of the point of such houses was that they provided copy editors.

Side note: My response to a A Dark and Stormy Knit is also influenced by the fact that it served as something of a balance for some of the other books and comic books I've been reading and reviewing lately over at FanboyNation: Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Core is the most violent book I've ever liked, and while Gail Simone's run on Red Sonja is highly enjoyable, and somewhat less violent, it can hardly be called soothing—I mean, she is the she-devil with the sword. Also, The Last Policeman is an amazing mystery series, but it can in no way be called "cozy." So, I needed a break—even if that means I'm now wondering what it says that I turn to a nice, relaxing book about murder for said break.

Recommended to people who like books with puns in the title, people who like cozy craft mysteries, and people who can handle frequent fragments.

Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Gallery Books
1451644809 (ISBN13: 9781451644807)

No comments:

Post a Comment