Knits, Knots, and Knives
Craft Fair Knitters Mystery #3
By Emmie Caldwell
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
It will take the Ninth Street Knitters all the sleuthing skills they have to untangle the threads of a dyed-in-the-wool killer.
For once things seem to be running smoothly for knitting enthusiast Lia Geiger. Her daughter is living on her own and happy with her new job on the alpaca farm. Plus, Lia and her Ninth Street Knitters have been knitting for the Civil War reenactment being held on the grounds next to the Crandalsburg Craft Fair. It’s all fun and battle games until one of the injured soldiers turns out to be the very real victim of a murder, and Lia’s friend and neighbor falls under deep suspicion.
Suddenly, the good folks of Crandalsburg are spinning all kinds of yarns and pointing fingers at one another. Lucky for Lia, she has the combined wits of the Ninth Street Knitters to help her ply the truth from this crafty killer. (From Goodreads)
What a great cozy mystery! The mysteries are knit together with elements I found interesting, including the alpaca farm and the Civil War battle reenactment. Knitting brings people together; in this novel, several old friends in the Ninth Avenue Knitters help with ideas and information about the murder victims and who may have done them in as they knit. This story invited this reader in from the beginning – in this case, the annual reenactment of the battle at Crandalsburg. I really enjoy the characters, especially Lia, her next-door neighbors Sharon and Jack, and Pete, the local police chief. I also enjoyed seeing a mother and daughter as close as Lia and Hayley.
Lia has been a widow for about a year and a half. She sold their home and now lives in a small, Civil War era home within easy visiting distance of York, where she goes each week to knit and catch up with friends in her knitting group. Lia also sells some of the projects that she and her friends knit at the Crandalsburg Craft Fair. Her daughter, Hayley, moved back to the area and is the marketing director for the alpaca farm where much of the yarn Lia loves to use is produced.
The Craft Fair is set up for sales after the reenactment. Vendors added Civil War era items, such as the woolen socks and scarves at Lia’s Ninth Avenue Knitters booth. Arden, a fairly new businessman in the area, has taken over control of the reenactment group that Lia’s next-door neighbor, Jack, has been overseeing for several years. There are hard feelings among Jack and his friends. Arden’s son-in-law Lucas is his right-hand man. Neither Arden nor Lucas care about how authentic they are, but when Jack was in charge, there were no sneakers on the battlefield or other things not true to the era.
A couple things are not authentic for safety reasons. The only time a bayonet could be on a rifle is for the bayonet demos, limited to only two rifles. Jack and Lucas allowed theirs to be used for the demo and arranged for where they would be stored during the battle.
Lia, her neighbor Sharon, and best friend Belinda had met Arden’s wife Heidi, who heard good things about the knitters’ booth. She is nothing like her husband. Heidi is kind, positive, friendly, and genuinely want to seeing the vendors’ booths. It wouldn’t happen on this day. When the battle was over, Arden’s body was found at the edge of the field. He died of a stab wound, but no knife was found nearby.
Lia’s neighbor Jack had been seen arguing with Arden before the battle and had no alibi for the approximate time of his death. A small spot of Arden’s blood was found on the bayonet of Jack’s rifle, which was determined to be the murder weapon. When Arden’s son-in-law Lucas was interviewed for local television news, he firmly proclaimed that Jack was responsible, he was unhinged, and the police needed to lock him up. The police did not have sufficient evidence on Jack, but people around town treat him as a ruthless killer. Those he did contracting work for canceled their jobs. One of his clients took advantage of the situation, suing him for shoddy work. She blackballed him on every local review site. She died from falling through the sabotaged railing of the deck he built.
I enjoyed most of the characters, and felt they were very well defined through their actions and realistic conversations. Pete, the police chief, has shown interest in Lia for a while, but she doesn’t feel ready yet to be any more than friends. I like how she handled it with sensitivity and the positive results.
Plot twists kept changing my opinion of who might be the bad guy or gal. I changed “pet suspects” partway through, convinced of the second person I chose. I was completely surprised at who killed Arden, and very surprised at the motive for killing the second person. I was sad about who did the deeds as there were years of circumstances that led up to the murders. The ending was overall satisfactory with no loose endings, and I am looking forward to the next in series. I highly recommend this compelling read.