Knit One, Kill Two: a book review

I’ve recently become a big fan of LibraryThing.com, a website that allows you to catalog and tag your books, write reviews, compare your library to others’, and talk incessantly about books.  Through their knitting group, I learned of several book series and standalone novels that involve knitting in some significant way, and immediately purchased several to try them out.

The one I most recently finished is Knit One, Kill Two, a murder mystery by Maggie Sefton.  Sadly, I was not a fan of this book. I wanted to be, so much–a mystery, set around a yarn shop, with lots of knitting….sounded perfect! And I did grow to like most of the characters (although I still couldn’t tell you the difference between Meghan and Lisa). But for me, the plot holes killed it dead.

For one thing, criminals don’t just confess, and certainly not when confronted with flimsy circumstantial evidence. Ok, maybe in “Murder She Wrote,” and if that’s the audience Sefton is writing for, then go team her! But I’m not in that audience, and I expect more at the end of a mystery.

For another, anything involving knitting and/or yarn was written so completely and lovingly that it was clear the author not only adored her subject, but knew it very well. This just made it oh so obvious how much she *didn’t* research any of the other technical details of the story–DNA testing, for instance. I can’t get into it further without risking spoilers, but let’s just say that when an expert is comparing two separate DNA samples, two things are noticed immediately, and if the expert has seen enough of the samples to know the answer to one of those things, he can’t possibly *not* know the answer to the other–literally not possible….unless you’re the DNA expert in Sefton’s Colorado, apparently. This mistake (and the unbelievably rapid turnaround for the DNA results) was such a big one that my head hurts every time I think about it, and it made me want to throw the book across the room.

And the ending? Or should I say, lack thereof? There were so many questions left hanging at the end, I had to doublecheck the page numbers to see if a chapter had been ripped out. (Sadly, no.)

Those are the biggest (but not only) plot problems I had. Then there was the annoying writing style in which the characters included the name of the person they were speaking to in nearly every speaking turn. Take, for instance, page 178. Seven paragraphs of dialog, taking up 2/3 of the page–not even a complete page. Martha speaks to Kelly three times, and uses Kelly’s name each time. Kelly speaks to Martha four times, and uses Martha’s name twice. They’re the only two people in the room! And this happened throughout the whole book!

I know for some people these may be small, nitpicky details that are better glossed over in favor of enjoying the story, but for me, they got in the way of the story, taking me out of the book in repeated exasperation, with frequent mutterings of, “doesn’t she have an editor??”

As I said before, I did grow to like the characters, despite their constant uses of names, but unless someone can assure me that these plot and style problems have been worked out in later books, I won’t be reading anymore Sefton books.

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