While My Pretty One Knits: Black Sheep Knitting Mystery #1
2016 Reading Challenge: a book with bad reviews
by Anne Canadeo
I will admit it: ever since I read my first of Maggie Sefton’s Knitting Mysteries, I have been a sucker for the style. I’ve been trying to find another series that captured my interest the way those early Knitting Mysteries did. (I will admit that Sefton’s series went on long enough that I got bored with them. But the first several – I think the first 7 or 8 – were books I enjoyed reading.) I had hoped that this series would be another like that. It might yet be, we’ll have to see. I may read the next one in the series too, and see what I think of it. This first one, however, I’m not sure about.
(Book Challenge note: I didn’t read this knowing about the bad reviews. I only went looking at the reviews later, when I had my own misgivings about the book, and I found that several people agreed with me. This book has many 4- or 5-star ratings, but it also has lots of 2-star ratings. One of the big complaints with the book is its need for better proofreading, which I completely agree with. Another big complaint, though, is that it’s too predictable, even for the cozy genre.)
So, the basic, spoiler-free plot: a group of friends who met during a knitting class all meet at the yarn store owned by Maggie, one member of the group for a book signing and demonstration by a local girl who’s made it big and moved into the city. (Boston, I think, but it really could have been set anywhere. There was not a big sense of place in this book.) The start of the demo, however, is interrupted by news that the other local yarn shop owner – who considered Maggie her arch rival – has been killed. Police investigate, Maggie is among the suspects, and Lucy (another member of the knitting group and our main/POV character) is determined to help Maggie out because she knows Maggie is innocent.
One of the things that I liked best about this book was that Lucy managed to solve the mystery without too much illegal snooping about. Many cozy mysteries get a bit loose with what the average citizen would be able to do in order to solve the mystery. Lucy managed to solve this one with a bit of luck and some nosy gossip, but without any actual illegal activities, and that was refreshing. However, it was on the predictable side, even for a cozy mystery. I had my suspicions about who dunnit pretty early on, and the only thing that was lacking was the motive. Once a hidden piece of evidence was found, however, the rest clicked into place.
I mostly enjoyed the book, and found it a quick read. The proofing errors, though, were a bit jarring when I came across them. Things like verbs being in the wrong tense grate on my nerves. I know, I know, errors happen. I still don’t like them. I mentioned that the setting was nondescript – fortunately the characters were a bit more fleshed out. I am glad, though, that this was a library rental.
Oh, and about the yarn content of this book: unlike the LAST WOOL AND TESTAMENT which I reviewed earlier, there is plenty of knitting content in this book. Some of it feels real, too. They even mention intarsia. However, I’m glad that the bulk of the knitters in the group are relatively new knitters. None of them (even the teacher) felt experienced. And I must agree with some of the reviews I’ve read: the description of the yarn store and its contents felt like someone had done research about it, but not really talked to passionate knitters. The biggest mention about yarn was how “organic yarn is more expensive”. Wha? You want expensive, where’s the cashmere? Qiviut? Angora blends? Hand-dyed art yarns? So, yeah. This was a fun book, but when I want a knitting mystery, I will still (so far) stick to Maggie Sefton.
(If you have other recommendations for me, please pass them along!)