From the publisher—
Ellie and Ben Krueger arrived in Plum Harbor eager to live out their dream—tending a herd of gentle, friendly llamas for fun and profit, on a farm just beyond the village. Their grand opening fiber festival kicks off on a bright note but abruptly ends in malicious mayhem. Knitting shop owner Maggie Messina and her friends soon learn that this is not the first time a vicious visitor has called.
The Kruegers suspect that Justin Ridley, their eccentric neighbor, is the troublemaker. A misfit and loner, he’s known to roam the woods all night, though no one knows for sure what he’s hunting. Then there’s Angelica Rossi—the lovely owner of a rival fiber farm—who’s been as busy as a spider, spinning spiteful lies about the Kruegers’ yarns. Or, are the naïve newcomers merely caught in the tangle of Plum Harbor politics, and an intense land protection debate?
Suddenly, vandalism turns to murder—and the Kruegers’ dream descends into a nightmare. The Black Sheep knitters must pull the threads together and uncover this crafty menace . . . before more lives—and more llamas— are lost.
First, a warning for those readers who can’t abide any harm done to animals—there is some of that in this book. The attacks on the animals are not overdone and they mean something in the story, i.e., they’re not gratuitous, but they exist.
On the whole, this is a good mystery but there are aspects to the construction that I think detract from the story. For a traditional, semi-cozy mystery, the murder is much too long in coming, a bit more than half way in, and then it’s approximately two thirds in before the ladies of the knitting club start snooping. In other words, this is a s-l-o-w story.
Speaking of snooping, Maggie Messina, owner of the Black Sheep Knitting Shop, is theoretically the leader of the club and thus the sleuths but she has remarkably little to do with the investigation. In fact, these ladies really don’t do much detecting at all when compared to their counterparts in other craft-related mysteries.
My final negative comment is that, in the electronic ARC I read, there were numerous instances of multiple POVs in the same paragraph. That’s one of the cardinal construction sins for me but I don’t know if this was a typical error found in ARCs or even just one of those glitches found in ebooks sometimes. It’s entirely possible that the finished products, electronic and print, are done correctly. (I will say that I don’t remember any overload of other grammatical or spelling mistakes and I appreciate that.)
The end result is a book that I found lacking in several ways but there are some positive points. The mystery itself is engaging and many of the characters are quite likeable. I also enjoyed learning a little about llamas and alpacas and creating yarn and knitting afficionados will be glad of the craft tips they’ll find. This is the fifth in the series—I haven’t read the earlier books but they’ve been well-regarded by many and I think I’ll just call this one a bit of a stumble.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2013.