Cozy mysteries -- mysteries usually featuring a woman who is an amateur slueth -- are usually fun reads; they're the perfect books for curling up on the couch with on a lazy weekend.
Maggie Sefton's knitting mysteries series is no different. As an avid knitter, I've always loved this series. They're a bit campy, but very entertaining to read. It doesn't hurt that Sefton includes free knitting patterns and recipes in the back of her books.
I've been sitting on "Fleece Navidad", the sixth in her knitting mysteries series, for a month or two, but I really wanted to wait until the holiday season started before reading this.
"Fleece Navidad", while still fun, was not my favorite of the knitting mysteries. As in the previous books in the series, the heroine is Kelly Flynn, an East Coast accountant who has settled down in the sleepy town of Fort Connor, Colorado.
The biggest difference "Fleece Navidad" had from previous books in the series is that the crime/murder took longer to get to. And while I liked that Sefton introduced all the players first -- versus having Kelly discover them after the crime has been committed -- some scenes felt completely unnecessary to the central story line.
There is a brief sub-plot near the end of the story where Kelly finds herself putting on a Christmas pageant for a church and she's worried because the event is a big deal and she's dealing with middle school aged children. This entire subplot didn't add anything to the story, and I felt Sefton should have either done away with it entirely or added a mini-mystery to it.
"Fleece Navidad" takes place, of course, during the holidays. Kelly and the rest of the knitting gang are working furiously on knitting hats for charity. When the local librarian is killed in a hit-and-run, Kelly suspects foul play and begins using her amateur sleuthing skills to crack the case. The mystery is a bit predictable (though, I admit for a little while, I suspected someone other than the killer), but it's still entertaining to read all the clues coming into place.
Like I mentioned before, there are a lot of scenes that felt unnecessary to me. The entire first chapter did nothing to set up the book, other than establish it was the holidays. My biggest problem with "Fleece Navidad", however, came from some loose ends that were never resolved: the librarian's fiance -- what happened to him? The gift Kelly's boyfriend, Steve, got her -- what was it?
Also, I have to wonder: How many more people in Fort Connor can be murdered before people start moving out of town? Will Sefton ever kill of a main character? Will Sefton ever do a mystery other than a murder?
I have no idea, but I'll certainly keep reading the series to find out!
"Fleece Navidad", like others in Sefton's series, is light-hearted (insofar as a murder mystery can be light-hearted), campy and very enjoyable. Three stars.
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