In this mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Yarn Over Murder, Kelly Flynn and the Lambspun Knitters must unravel the truth from the lies to clear a friend’s son of murder...
Kelly’s summer in Fort Connor, Colorado, is off to a great start with knitting classes taught by her friend Barb. But while the advanced stitches are giving Kelly the slip, a more deadly problem soon has her friend coming apart at the seams.
A young woman has accused Barb’s son, Tommy—a young doctor doing his residency—of assaulting her. The yarns spun by the local rumor mill are bad enough, but when the woman is found dead in her ransacked apartment, Tommy becomes the number one suspect.
With the police ready to close the case, it’s up to Kelly to knit together the clues to uncover a killer who doesn’t seem to drop a stitch...
About the Author
Maggie Sefton is the author of the New York Times bestselling Knitting Mysteries, including Yarn Over Murder, Close Knit Killer, and Cast On, Kill Off. She was born and raised in northern Virginia, where she received her bachelor’s degree in English literature and journalism. Maggie has worked in several careers over the years, from a CPA to a real estate broker in the Rocky Mountain West. However, none of those endeavors could compare with the satisfaction and challenge of creating worlds on paper.
Read an Excerpt
Cast of Characters
Kelly Flynn—financial accountant and part-time sleuth, refugee from East Coast corporate CPA firm
Steve Townsend—architect and builder in Fort Connor, Colorado, and Kelly’s boyfriend
Jennifer Stroud—real estate agent, part-time waitress
Lisa Gerrard—physical therapist
Megan Smith—IT consultant, another corporate refugee
Marty Harrington—lawyer, Megan’s husband
Greg Carruthers—university instructor, Lisa’s boyfriend
Pete Wainwright—owner of Pete’s Porch Café in the back of Kelly’s favorite knitting shop, House of Lambspun
LAMBSPUN FAMILY AND REGULARS:
Mimi Shafer—Lambspun shop owner and knitting expert, known to Kelly and her friends as “Mother Mimi”
Burt Parker—retired Fort Connor police detective, Lambspun spinner-in-residence
Hilda and Lizzie von Steuben—spinster sisters, retired school-teachers, and exquisite knitters
Curt Stackhouse—Colorado rancher, Kelly’s mentor and advisor
Jayleen Swinson—Alpaca rancher and Colorado cowgirl
Connie and Rosa—Lambspun shop personnel
A Monday in early July, one year after the High Park Wildfire
Kelly Flynn pushed open the heavy wooden entry door of the Lambspun knitting shop and stepped inside the foyer. Shop owner Mimi Shafer Parker was draping a rainbow-hued knitted shawl across the doors of an antique dry sink in the corner.
“Good morning, Mimi. I thought I’d get a coffee refill and hear how your camping trip went this past weekend.”
Mimi gave Kelly a big smile. “It was great. Weather was perfect. Cassie had a ball learning how to cook over the camp stove.”
“I tried scrambling eggs over a campfire once, and they got pretty hard. Almost inedible,” Kelly said as she walked through the central yarn room to the main knitting room and dumped her shoulder bag onto the long library table there. “Hopefully Cassie did better than I did.”
“Well, a camp stove is easier to cook on, Kelly. You can control the gas heat. So don’t throw in the towel on campfire cooking just yet,” Mimi said as she followed Kelly into the large room where fiber workers regularly gathered.
“Ohhhhh, I threw in that towel years ago, Mimi,” Kelly said, grinning at the maternal shop owner. “When there are so many good cooks around, there’s no reason I should get in the kitchen except to make coffee. That I can do well. Did you three go up into Cache La Poudre Canyon? There are some great campsites right on the river.”
“Oh, yes. We went to one of our favorites, where we reserved a site right there on the river. Cassie just loved it. She’d never gone camping before we took her last year.” Mimi stared off into the wonderland of yarns she and her staff regularly created. Yarns and fiber creations filled the rooms, spilling out of bins and spread across tables. Color, color, everywhere. “There’s nothing like the sound of a river nearby to lull you to sleep at night.”
“That’s for sure. I sleep like a log whenever Steve and I go camping up in the canyon,” Kelly said as she took her oversize mug and walked toward the back hallway, which led to the café in the rear of the shop. “That is, until I hear the early-morning birds singing. Or the telltale sounds of a raccoon trying to get into the locked cooler outside.”
“Oh, yes. Raccoons and other critters that roam around looking for food.” Mimi followed her down the hallway.
“One time we took Carl, and I swear, we barely got any sleep. Carl heard every animal sound for miles around. Kept growling or barking or making little growly sounds all night.”
“Carl was being protective. That’s his job.”
“I don’t know how he managed to hear those critters with the sound of the river so close. Tiny scratching sounds would be drowned out,” Kelly said as she walked into Pete’s Porch Café and spotted good friend Jennifer loading plates of tempting breakfast dishes onto her tray.
Mimi laughed her little musical laugh. “You forget about Carl’s keen nose. That’s how he knew critters were afoot. He smelled them.”
Jennifer balanced the tray on her shoulder and walked over to them. “Good morning, you two. Can I get you anything?”
“Just a coffee refill when your hands are free,” Kelly said with a grin. “Mimi was telling me how much fun Cassie had on the camping trip this weekend.”
“I’ll say. She regaled Pete and me with every detail. Seems she really liked cooking on that camp stove. So she must have inherited some of Pete’s cooking genes.”
“She did a good job with those cheese scrambled eggs,” Mimi said. “They were better than mine.”
Jennifer grinned. “That’s because she’s been watching Eduardo. He’s the master.” She glanced toward the familiar grill cook, who was busy turning pancakes and strips of bacon and sausage on the large grill.
“Well, tell Cassie she can come over to our place and make some cheesy eggs for Steve and me anytime.” Kelly pulled out a chair at the closest café table. “If this is Monday, then she’s out at tennis with Megan this morning.”
“Yep. She’s actually playing in a tournament this weekend. In between softball games, of course. This is getting heavy, so I’ll catch up later.” Jennifer turned toward the main part of the café.
Mimi pulled up a chair across from Kelly. “It’s hard to believe Cassie’s been here over a year. It’s gone so fast. Last year in July, we were still helping Jayleen and other folks repair fire damage to the canyons.” Mimi shook her head. “Time really flies faster nowadays. I guess that’s a sign I’m getting old.”
Kelly leaned back in the chair and smiled at her friend: Mother Mimi, who always took a motherly interest in everything Kelly and friends were doing. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, Mimi, I think time is passing faster, too. And if I think it’s my imagination, all I have to do is look at Cassie and see how much she’s grown in a year.”
“Hasn’t she ever? I declare, that girl must have shot up three or more inches. Why, she’s as tall as I am!”
“I remember Burt saying last year that Cassie would be going into a growth spurt judging by how much her appetite increased. She was eating more. Looks like Burt was right.”
Julie walked up then and placed Kelly’s refilled coffee mug on the table in front of her. “Here you go, Kelly.”
“Thanks, Julie. By the way, how did your church group’s canyon repair go this past weekend? When Steve and I went up to help with canyon repairs, we really had great weather.”
“Ohhhh, we got a lot done.” Julie gave a satisfied nod. “We shored up several hillsides that had rain damage and lost soil. We made more waddles with straw and put them up. And we reforested several areas with tiny tree plantings. We were exhausted by the time we finished. But, boy oh boy, were we proud of the work we did. Those people on that property had most of their house burned, so it felt really good to help them. The wife started crying, watching us at work.”
“I’ll bet. You and your church group did a huge good deed for those folks,” Kelly said. “How far down the road from Jayleen’s ranch was that place?”
“A couple of miles. When we drove out of the canyon we went up and over the hill toward Masonville, so we passed by Jayleen’s ranch. It’s looking a lot better, too. Jennifer told me how much you guys did this past year with replanting and shoring up those hillsides. Looks like we’ve got a ton of new growth all over Bellevue Canyon now. I saw a lot of green on Jayleen’s hillsides.”
“All of you should be proud of yourselves,” Mother Mimi said. “So many of our friends needed help after that awful High Park wildfire last summer, and lots of people showed up to help. Now Burt and I drive through the canyons and we see green plantings and new growth all over. Restoring the land.”
Julie grinned. “Thanks, Mimi. It felt good to make a difference. Talk to you later. I’ve got to check on my other customers now.” She scurried back into the main café.
Seated in the back alcove, it was still surprisingly quiet for a summer morning, Kelly noticed. The breakfast rush must have come and gone. After all, golfers and tennis players like to be out early so they can avoid the heat of the midsummer sun. She’d seen several foursomes out on the greens already when she and her boyfriend, Steve Townsend, took their early-morning run by the river.
“I’d better check to see if Rosa needs any help up front,” Mimi said as she rose.
“Oh, yes. Work beckons,” Kelly said, joining her.
“How’s that new building project Steve’s working on in Denver going?” Mimi asked as she and Kelly walked toward the hallway. “You said he was working some late nights.”
“It’s going well. Construction has moved into the next phase. Framing is all done, so they’ll get the roof on and then start on the interior.” Kelly took a deep drink of the hot black coffee that was Eduardo’s specialty.
Mimi’s cell phone sounded, and she dug it out of her pocket. “Oh, it’s Barb. She’s teaching an intermediate advanced knitting class early this afternoon. I hope nothing’s come up. Talk to you later, Kelly.” Mimi scurried down the hallway, phone to her ear.
Kelly didn’t feel like scurrying this July morning. She was looking forward to sitting inside the knitting shop’s comfy air-conditioned surroundings and working on her client accounts. Tonight was a Little League softball game with Cassie’s team on one field at Rolland Moore Park, and Curt’s grandson Eric playing baseball on another field. Back-to-back ball games. Luckily, Kelly, Megan, and Lisa didn’t have a game tonight, so they could relax and cheer the kids instead. Steve’s team played tomorrow night.
Walking back to the main knitting room, which was still empty of customers, Kelly pulled out a chair at the long library table, popped open her laptop computer, and settled in for a morning filled with accounting and numbers. Lots of numbers. Thank goodness for strong coffee.
• • •
A familiar voice sounded in the adjoining yarn room. An authoritative woman’s voice. Kelly looked up from her laptop screen and the accounting spreadsheet pictured there and saw former nurse and part-time knitting instructor Barb Macenroe stride into the main room.
“Hey, Barb, good to see you. Mimi said you were teaching an intermediate advanced knitting class today.”
Tall and big-boned, Barb dropped her huge fabric bag on the table with a big thump. “Good to see you, Kelly. You should sign up for the class, too. There are a couple of spots open.”
“Ohhhh, I don’t think I’m advanced enough for your courses, Barb. I’ve heard that you really get into some tricky knitting techniques. It’s all I can do to keep to the basics so my stitches are even.”
Barb’s face took on an expression Kelly recognized as the “schoolmarm” look. Kelly made sure she kept a straight face. Barb was stern but had a good heart and could always be counted on to help out Mimi when there was a time crunch.
“Don’t underestimate yourself, Kelly,” Barb said in that schoolmarm voice. “You can easily master those techniques.”
Kelly chuckled. “Just the word ‘master’ and my name in the same sentence is a contradiction, Barb. But I’ll promise to peek in today and see what you’re up to. When are you teaching?”
Barb glanced at her watch. “In less than an hour. So let me go and set up the workroom right now. We have five signed up, so with me, we’ll have six around that table.” Barb smiled at Kelly. “Plenty of time to reconsider, Kelly. I’ve never seen you back away from a challenge.”
Kelly refused to take the bait and laughed softly. “You’re right, Barb. But all things knitting related have the power to confuse me no end. So I don’t push my luck.” Remembering something, Kelly switched subjects. “By the way, how’s son Tommy doing? It’s hard to believe he’s finished his medical studies. I believe you said he was an intern the last time we spoke.”
Barb immediately turned from the doorway, her face alight. “Ohhhhh, Tommy’s doing wonderfully! Because he’d taken so many extra anatomy and physiology courses for his EMT training, even advanced ones, he was way ahead in the classes he needed. In fact, he’s finished his fourth-year requirements.” Her chin went up in obvious motherly pride. “Now, he’s a resident in family medicine.”
“Oh, Barb, that’s wonderful!” Kelly exclaimed. “You deserve to be proud. And Tommy does, too. Why, he’s taken courses throughout the summer every year. That’s to be commended. You tell him I said that, okay?”
Barb beamed. “Thank you, Kelly. I’ll tell him. And you’re right. He has been taking courses nonstop ever since he was awarded that scholarship a couple of years ago. Thank goodness for that philanthropic organization. Because of that, Tommy was able to cut back on his EMT hours to once a week so he could take classes full-time.”
“Is he actually working at the hospital now?”
“Well, he’s doing his residency there with several doctors in different specialties. And he’s on the staff of one of the emergency care clinics located around the city. Focusing on general practice. Everything walks in the door of those clinics, from bee stings to burst appendixes.” Barb chuckled. “So, he’s getting an education, that’s for sure.”
“Did you ever work in one of those emergency care clinics?” Kelly asked.
“Ohhhh, yes. We nurses go wherever they need us.” Barb suddenly checked her watch. “Well, enough of my maternal bragging. I’d better set up for class. These are very good students and they deserve my full attention.” She headed toward the doorway to the workroom once more.
“I may check in on that class, Barb. Just to see what you’re up to,” Kelly called after her. Draining her coffee mug, Kelly decided it was time for a refill.
• • •
“Now, watch how I wrap the yarn and then slip it off the needle,” Barb instructed the class, holding up both knitting needles. A soft pink yarn spilled into a pile in her lap.
Kelly leaned forward exactly like the five class members and stared at Barb’s needles as she went through the movements. One needle double wrapped the yarn and then slipped it off onto the other needle. Kelly blinked. What was that again? She wasn’t sure she’d seen what Barb was demonstrating. It looked like the yarn over stitch, but a little different.
“Ohhhhhh, now I get it,” one middle-aged woman said, nodding her head.
“Can I see that again?” another woman asked, peering at Barb’s needles.
“Yeah, do that again,” a couple of younger women said, nodding, holding their needles and yarn in front of them.
Kelly watched Barb’s needles work through the motions again. She thought she saw the yarn being wrapped twice, but she wasn’t sure about the rest of the motions. Clearly, she would need Mimi to walk her through it, step by step.
She watched the rest of the class try to imitate Barb’s movements. The two middle-aged women and the three younger women all looked like they understood what Barb was trying to show them. Obviously, knitters were not created equally, Kelly concluded.
“How’s your son Tommy doing?” one woman asked, her needles moving smoothly through the motions. “Didn’t you say he was an intern?”
Barb’s big smile returned. “Actually he’s moved on and is a resident in family medicine now,” she said, face glowing with motherly pride. “He’s even working in one of the emergency care clinics.”
“Really?” another woman asked. “Which one?”
“The one near Drake and Timberline. It’s open twenty-four hours. Tommy gets the middle of the night since he’s the resident.”
“Lowest on the totem pole,” a younger woman commented.
“He won’t stay there long,” another said. “He sounds like a rising star from what you’ve said.”
Barb’s face glowed, clearly basking in the praise for her son. “I think so, too. The other doctors seem impressed with him. So he should move up fast.”
“Well, you know what they say,” a middle-aged woman said. “Cream rises to the top.”
A couple of the women chuckled as others concentrated on their stitches. Kelly was about to add her affirmations to the others when her cell phone rang.
“Excuse me, folks, sorry to interrupt,” she said, jumping out of her chair and heading toward the doorway. She quickly dug into her pocket for the phone, which was playing loud Latin music. Steve’s name flashed on the screen as she clicked on. “Hey, there. Will you be able to make the kids’ ball games tonight or will you be stuck at the building site?”
“Actually I’ll be home earlier. You and I are going to dinner. I’ve already made reservations at the Jazz Bistro for six o’clock tonight,” Steve said, the sound of a smile in his voice.
“Sounds great. Any special reason or do you simply want something other than fast food or pizza tonight?” she teased.
“Matter of fact, there is. Sam Kaufman officially made me a partner today and wants me to expand our construction business into Northern Colorado.”
Kelly could feel Steve’s pride coming over the phone just as she could hear it in his voice. “Oh, Steve! That’s fantastic! I know you and Sam were talking about it, and we were hoping. It’s official?”
“Yep. We signed the papers at the lawyer’s office this afternoon. I was going to head back to the work site, but Sam told me to go home and celebrate.” He laughed softly.
“I love Sam. Great advice. So, where are you now?” Kelly asked, walking over to the knitting table.
“Actually, I’m halfway home. I should be there in forty-five minutes at most. Do you have any appointments scheduled?”
Kelly slid the laptop into her over-the-shoulder bag, then checked her watch. “Nope. No appointments until tomorrow. I’ve finished my accounts, and I’m free as a bird. You want me to meet you at the Bistro? We can have drinks before dinner.”
“Actually I was thinking we could have our own celebration before we head to the Bistro,” Steve suggested, a teasing tone in his voice now.
Kelly caught his meaning immediately and smiled. “Sounds like a plan. I’ll see you at home.”
“Count on it.”
Kelly grinned and clicked off, then headed out of the shop.
• • •
Kelly took a sip of the crisp clean sauvignon blanc wine and savored. Fruity pear flavors hinting. She leaned back into the cushioned booth in the Jazz Bistro’s cocktail lounge and watched the jazz pianist, Mark, take a familiar melody and riff through it with a jazzy twist. The bass player closed his eyes and took the lead, alternating with the piano. Good food, good wine, and good jazz. Hard to ask for more.
She looked over at Steve, who was leaning into the cushions beside her, and placed her hand over his on the table. “I’m so proud of you, Steve. You worked wretched hours, driving back and forth to Denver, helping Sam build up his business. You deserve this partnership.”
Steve turned to Kelly and smiled into her eyes. “That means a lot, hearing you say that.” He lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed it.
“When do you think you can open an office up here?”
“Not for a while yet. I’ll keep commuting to Denver until I’ve gotten a couple of projects started up here. I’ll be talking to some builders I know who used to be in the business a few years ago. A lot have survived by switching to remodeling. They’ve had to transform themselves. Hell, we’ve all had to transform ourselves.” He sipped his Scotch.
“Well, you’re in the top of that group,” Kelly said. “I know a whole lot of folks who went belly-up but didn’t transform. They just went to ground and got into other work. Some had enough savings to survive with remodeling. But most didn’t. They’ve never come back. And you’re the only one I know who did the hard job of leaving town and learning how to be successful in a bigger city like Denver. That takes guts. And brains.” She winked at him and raised her glass before taking a sip.
Steve grinned. “My biggest fan.” Then he leaned over and kissed her, lingering. “What do you say we go home and have dessert there.”
Kelly grinned back. “I say ask for the check.”
Steve laughed softly and raised his hand to signal the waiter.
“You tell Steve ‘Congratulations’ for me, okay?” Arthur Housemann said, smiling across his polished mahogany desk at Kelly. “He deserves to be a partner in that business. Steve worked harder than most to recover from the building bust a few years ago. Most builders I knew then have gone out of business and haven’t returned. They’ve either moved on or moved into remodeling full-time. It’s not as risky as building new homes. Steve not only survived, but he came back stronger.”
Her words exactly, Kelly thought and returned her client’s smile. “I couldn’t have said it better. And coming from you, Arthur, that’s high praise indeed. You’ve seen many a building boom and real estate bust, and you’ve survived as well.” She lifted her coffee mug in a salute.
“Oh, that I have, Kelly,” Arthur said, leaning back farther in his upholstered desk chair. “Only the strong survive. And the strong and smart will prosper.” He winked.
“I’ll tell Steve that, too. He’ll be meeting with some of his old builder contacts here in town as well as the new ones on the scene.”
“You tell Steve I’d be glad to meet with him, too. I’ve been listening to my tenants and landlords and getting ideas. I wouldn’t mind tossing them around with the new partner of Kaufman Construction.”
“Actually, it’s now Kaufman and Townsend Construction,” Kelly said, not bothering to conceal the pride in her voice.
Arthur beamed. “I stand corrected. Kaufman and Townsend Construction.”
“I’m sure Steve would love to meet with you, Arthur,” Kelly said, delighted at Arthur’s suggestion. That would be a great opportunity for Steve. “Changing the subject, have you done any more wildfire restoration work in the Cache La Poudre Canyon? The last time I drove by there, I noticed that your place and Dennis Holt’s place next door are both looking good. The wildfire didn’t touch either of them. But down the road that left side of the upper ridge is still blackened.”
“Yes, it is. And a whole bunch of us in the canyon are going to volunteer to plant some more seedling pines this September. Like last year, we’ll get past the August heat and let them take root before the winter snows come. We ought to be able to plant more, too. Last year the soil was freshly charred and not in good shape.”
Kelly took another sip of Arthur’s office coffee. Not as strong as Eduardo’s but passable. “That’s a great idea, Arthur. Will Dennis be helping with that?”
“Absolutely. Dennis has been clearing out dead brush on his land and also on his neighbors’ properties since spring.” The buzzer on Arthur’s phone system sounded. “Oops, that’s my secretary. Reminding me that my next appointment is here.”
Kelly drained the last of the coffee and gathered her portfolio into her briefcase bag. “I’d best get back, anyway. You’re in good shape, Arthur. So now I need to see what Don Warner and company have waiting for me.”
Arthur Housemann rose from his chair. “Well, knowing Don Warner, I’d vouch to say he’s got projects of his own on the table and up his sleeve.”
Kelly slipped her briefcase bag over her shoulder. “Oh, you’re right as always, Arthur. Warner is constantly coming up with plans. And it’s my job to find the money for them.”
Housemann laughed as he accompanied Kelly to the door of his office. “I don’t envy you that task. Take care, Kelly. Are you and your friends playing softball tonight?”
“We are, and wish us luck. We’re playing our archrival, Greeley.”
“Well, hit one out of the park for me, okay?” Arthur teased, opening the door.
“I’ll do my best. Talk to you next week,” Kelly said as she walked past the waiting client. Once outside in the hallway, Kelly heard her cell phone’s music. She clicked on, seeing Lisa’s name. “Hey, there. Ready for Greeley tonight?”
“I hope so. They’re tough. Say, I just saw Jennifer and she told me about Steve’s big news. Partner in the construction firm. Cool! We’ll have to celebrate tonight after the game. Have you told Megan yet?”
“I left a message on her voice mail. She’s in an all-day conference with one of her clients. The demanding one. So I expect to hear from her—” The beeping sound of another call coming in sounded in Kelly’s ear as she pushed out the office building door. “That’s probably her now.”
“Okay, I’ll hang up. See you at the ball field,” Lisa said, then clicked off.
Kelly spotted Megan’s name and clicked on to the new call as she walked through the parking lot. “Hey, there. You got my message?”
“You betcha. It made my day. Way to go, Steve!” Megan yelled into Kelly’s ear. So loud, Kelly had to hold the phone away as she laughed.
• • •
That afternoon Kelly watched as Jennifer poured a black stream of coffee into her oversize mug. The rich aroma wafted toward her nostrils. Ummmmmm. Caffeine. She took a sip of the hot brew without blowing on it. The brain cells that hadn’t reported for duty yet snapped to attention.
Jennifer laughed softly. “I still don’t know how you do that. Doesn’t it burn your mouth?”
“It’s supposed to,” Kelly teased. “That’s part of the enjoyment. You’ll be at the ballpark tonight, right? Cassie said you guys were bringing her.”
“We’ll be there. Cassie’s team is playing before you guys. So we’ll make it a doubleheader.”
“Well, she and several of the girls I coached last summer have improved so much they made their middle school teams last fall. And now, they’re even better.”
“I love to see Cassie run around the bases. I swear, those long legs just sprint across the ground.”
“I know. Didn’t you tell me she’d grown at least three inches this past year?”
“At least. And that gangly phase has started.” Jennifer started to laugh. “I swear, she’s bumping into walls, knocking mugs off the counter. It’s hilarious.”
“Ohhhhh, yeah. I remember that phase in junior high. Stuff used to jump off the table as I passed by. And if you think that’s hilarious, you should have seen me play basketball. Arms and legs everywhere.”
Jennifer laughed out loud this time. “It sounds like you were a female version of Marty.” She glanced about the beginning of the early lunch crowd filling the café tables. “Well, that’s enough for memories right now. Gotta get back to my customers. See you tonight.”
“See you then.” Kelly raised her mug and headed toward the corridor leading back into the Lambspun shop. Numbers were calling her name.
• • •
Kelly tabbed through the accounting spreadsheets, entering revenues in column after column. Warner Construction had a very profitable month. Now, if only expenses were in line, all would be well.
Mimi walked into the main knitting room, a stack of magazines in her arm, and pulled out a chair at the knitting table. “I thought I’d do a pattern search in here. Connie can handle whatever happens up front.”
“Good to have the company. It’s really quiet this afternoon for some reason.”
“It could be the hot weather. People forget about yarns and fibers on hot July days. Your team is playing tonight, right, Kelly? Make sure you all have enough water,” Mimi said, glancing up at Kelly.
Kelly had to smile. Mother Mimi. Always worrying about her people. “Don’t worry. We always bring a couple of huge water containers. That way we can keep refilling our water bottles. We decided last year we needed to cut back on those plastic bottles, so we’re going back to the way we handled it years ago. Save the planet.”
Mimi smiled as she paged through a magazine. “I think that’s a wonderful idea, Kelly. You and your team deserve to be commended for their efforts.”
Just then Barb strode into the main room. Her face was red as if she’d been hurrying. “I’m so glad I found you two alone,” she said, sinking into a chair beside Mimi.
“Barb, what’s the matter? You look so . . . frazzled,” Mimi asked. “Your class isn’t until an hour or so.”
“It’s not that,” Barb said, glancing about the room and then over her shoulder. “I heard some awful news from Tommy a little while ago . . . and I have to tell someone. Someone sensible.”
Kelly noticed Big Barb was sweating, water had ringed the sleeveless shirt she wore, and it trickled down her neck. “Well, Mimi and I are nothing if not sensible. A business owner and an accountant. So what’s up? Has Tommy’s scholarship run out or something?”
“Oh, Lord, I don’t know. But if these awful accusations become police record, Tommy may lose his scholarship entirely!”
“Good heavens!” Mimi said with a shocked expression. “What accusations?”
Barb frowned and her lips tightened as she leaned over. Kelly leaned closer so as not to miss anything Barb was about to say. “Tommy told me last night he was covering the emergency clinic during the nighttime hours like he does every week, and this young woman came in the middle of the night. No other patients were there, just the nurse on duty and him. This woman complained of stomach pains, so the nurse took her into the examining room and had her remove her slacks and then get on the examining table and cover herself with a drape.” Barb took a deep breath.
“Tommy said he came in then, asked her several questions on the medical information form she filled out, and started to examine her. The nurse was out front answering a phone call. The young woman said she had these recurring stomach pains that started yesterday and were getting stronger. Tommy said he started pressing on her stomach in various places, trying to eliminate obvious things like appendicitis, when all of a sudden the woman sat up on the table and yelled ‘Stop that!’ Then she jumped off the table, grabbed her clothes, and ran out of the room, crying. She stopped at the nurse’s desk and accused Tommy of groping her during the exam! Can you believe that!”
Kelly stared at Barb, trying to digest what she’d heard, shocked. She’d met Tommy. He was a good guy.
“What!” Mimi cried, sinking back in her chair. “That’s ridiculous! Whatever is wrong with that young woman?”
“I don’t know! Tommy swore to me he did nothing wrong. He was pressing on her stomach and never put his hand between her legs . . . or anything like that. There has to be something wrong with the girl. A mental problem or something . . . to accuse him like that.”
“What did Tommy do after she jumped off the table and ran out of the room?” Kelly asked. “Did he tell the nurse what happened?”
Barb nodded vigorously. “Of course. He told her right away. She was stunned and told Tommy that the girl said he groped her.” Barb closed her eyes as if she didn’t want to picture the awful images she was describing. “The nurse said the girl yanked on her slacks outside the glass front door, dropped the drape on the floor, then ran outside.”
“Do you think the girl will go to the police?”
Barb’s face contorted and reddened even more. Kelly thought she might start to cry. “She already has! Tommy said police showed up at the clinic as he was getting off duty this morning. The two officers told him that the young woman had reported an assault at the clinic last night when she was being examined for stomach pains. The officers told Tommy that they had to question him since he was the only physician on duty last night. They called it sexualassault! He’s just beginning his medical career. That . . . that can hurt him!”
This time, Kelly did spot tears brimming in Barb’s eyes. She reached over and placed her hand on Barb’s sweaty arm. It felt clammy in the air-conditioned shop. “I’m so sorry, Barb. That is terrible.”
“Oh, Barb, that can’t happen! Tommy is innocent. Surely the police will find out,” Mimi said, her face revealing her concern. “Tommy told them everything, right? Told them how the girl jumped off the table and ran off in the middle of the exam?”
Barb nodded, swiping the tears from her cheeks with one hand. “Yes, yes, he did. But he told me the officers just wrote everything down in their notebooks but didn’t give him any feedback. They did tell him that the girl had filed a complaint, and that was official. Tommy told me he got a bad feeling after that.”
“Wha . . . what did he mean?” Mimi asked, her voice lowering because customers had entered the adjoining yarn room.
“Tommy told me one of the other doctors who’d come in early was close by and advised Tommy to get a lawyer. An official police report goes on file and has to be investigated. And there will be a record of it in the police department.” Barb shook her head. “And that could mean Tommy might lose his scholarship! And if that happened, he could lose his intern spot at the emergency clinic!”
“Oh, no!” Mimi said, hand to her breast in her familiar gesture of concern.
“We need to ask Burt exactly what all of that means. When’s Burt coming in, Mimi?” Kelly asked, checking her watch.
“Oh, dear. Maybe not until this evening. He’s in Denver doing errands.”
Kelly leaned toward Barb. “I think it would be a good idea for Tommy to speak with an attorney. I can highly recommend Marty Harrington. He’s Megan’s husband and an excellent lawyer. Several people we know have used Marty’s services.”
“Oh, yes!” Mimi enthused. “Marty is excellent! I could call Megan if you want his number.”
Barb shook her head again. “No, no, we have a family attorney who has known Tommy since he was a baby. I used him last year. You know . . . when that malicious crook caused all of us such grief.” A different expression crossed Barb’s features this time.
Kelly recalled that Barb had been a suspect in Jared Rizzoli’s murder a little over a year ago. “Well, if he knows Tommy, that’s an even better choice.”
Cassie suddenly appeared around the corner, can of soda in her hand. “Hey, Kelly! Are you ready for that big Greeley game?”
Kelly quickly focused on the slender young girl, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. She could really see the jump in height. Cassie was much taller now. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.” Kelly smiled back at Cassie. “Are you ready for your game? You’re playing a Loveland middle school, I think.”
Cassie took a sip of soda. “Yep, we’re playing Loveland Central. Then my friends and I will come over to your game and watch you guys.” She straddled a chair backward in the way Jayleen Swinson did. Kelly figured Cassie had picked that up from one of her adopted grandmothers.
Barb swiped her face again and rose from the table. “Well, I’d better get ready for my class. I’ll talk to you later.”
Mimi rose as well. “I’ll help you set up, Barb.” She glanced back at Cassie. “Did you have fun at Greg’s lab, dear?”
“Oh, yes! The geeks had a new project they’re working on so they were explaining it to me. Greg also showed me some of the newest computer chips.” Her big blue eyes grew even larger with delight. “It was awesome!”
“Take care, Barb,” Kelly said, watching Barb head for the doorway.
Barb nodded but didn’t say anything as she followed Mimi into the workroom. Kelly noticed Cassie staring after them.
“Is she okay? It looked like Barb was crying,” Cassie asked, smile gone from her youthful face.
Kelly sought for an answer a young teenager would understand. “Barb’s had kind of a rough day. A really rough day.”
Cassie pondered that then nodded. “Kind of like when we lost that close game to Lafayette.”
“Yeah, like that,” Kelly nodded. “But worse. Now, tell me, are you and the team ready for that Loveland batting lineup? As I recall, they were really good last fall when your middle school played them.”
Cassie took a sip of her soda and smiled at Kelly. “Oh, yeah. We’re gonna take ’em. You watch.”
Kelly chuckled. The sound of Youthful Confidence. You had to love it.
• • •
“Wow, that is serious stuff,” Steve said, reaching for another piece of barbecued chicken.
“It is, indeed,” Marty said, following suit and stretching toward the metal café table and the platter stacked with chicken.
Kelly tipped back her bottle of Fat Tire ale and relaxed in the wrought iron chair at their favorite café in Fort Connor’s Old Town plaza. After all the congratulations to Steve and the accompanying lifting of beer mugs, bottles, and soda cans in salute, Kelly ventured into a more serious subject. The normal postgame conversation became considerably subdued when she described the situation Barb had related earlier in the afternoon.
“It sounds like a ‘she said, he said’ situation,” Greg offered as he snagged a larger piece of chicken.
Megan dipped her chicken morsel in the spicy sauce sitting open on the table. “I’ve never met Tommy but all I’ve heard are good things. You know . . . worked as a paramedic, got accepted for med school, worked hard, and is now a doctor. Sounds like a homegrown success story.”
“I have met him and Tommy comes across exactly the way you described him. Workaholic and high achiever. I just don’t see him as someone who’d make a move like that.” Kelly reached for one of the fast-disappearing BBQ chicken pieces.
“Well, I’ve been on the other side of that situation,” Lisa said. “No one has ever tried it with me—”
“Because you’d give him a fist in the ribs, right?” Greg probed.
Lisa gave him a patient look. “No . . .”
“Knee to the groin?”
“Well, put those on your to-do list,” Greg decreed, then tipped back his bottle of craft brew.
Lisa rolled her eyes. “I was about to make a different point. I’ve been around girls and women who have been in the situation of being groped. And there’s no ‘type’ of guy who does it. And they’re not drunk at a bar, either. It can happen in offices, all kinds of places. So, I’ll reserve judgment on Tommy.” Lisa gave a nod of experience and sipped her beer.
Kelly pondered what Lisa said. With her position as a physical therapist, Lisa was exposed to all sorts of patients and people. And with her graduate studies at the university, she was in contact with scores of female students. Lisa had a breadth and depth of experience that the rest of them lacked. Consequently Kelly had to admit Lisa’s observation was valid, disconcerting as it was.
“I see your point, Lisa. You’re right. None of us knows Tommy that well. So, naturally the police are looking at him exactly the same way. Tommy’s story may indeed be true, but there’s no way to prove it.”
“Listen, I didn’t mean it to come out sounding like a joke, but I was serious,” Greg said, leaning forward and looking at his girlfriend of several years. “One of the grad students who worked in our lab a couple of years ago was complaining about being groped at a party. And she was really mad that she didn’t say anything at the time, like ‘Watch it, dude!’ or ‘Back off!’ The guys and I told her to call ’em on it if a guy tries that.”
“Yeah, but that’s kind of hard if you’re in a place where you don’t expect it. Like a doctor’s office,” Megan added.
“Excellent point,” Steve said, leaning back in his chair, ignoring the last pieces of chicken.
“Whether Tommy is innocent as a lamb or a guilty troll, tell me what happens next, Marty?” Kelly asked, turning her empty Fat Tire bottle on the chair arm.
“It sounds like the woman filed an official complaint, and the police followed up on it. They questioned the man who was accused of assault, as well as the alleged assault victim. Now, the police will make a report of their investigation and file that. The next move will be up to the woman. If she presses charges, then Tommy will definitely need a lawyer because he may be headed for a trial. The court will decide how to handle it. So, it all depends on what the woman decides to do.”
“Wow. Being charged with sexual assault with a patient could really jeopardize Tommy’s medical career.” Megan toyed with the chicken tidbit.
Excerpted from "Purl Up and Die"
Copyright © 2016 Maggie Sefton.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for the Knitting Mysteries by Maggie Sefton:
“Well-drawn characters and a wickedly clever plot—you’ll love unraveling this mystery.”—Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author
“A mystery with more twists and turns than the scrumptious yarns in the fictitious shop of Lambspun…A clever, fast-paced plot, with a spunky sleuth and a cast of fun, engaging characters…Delivers the goods.”—Margaret Coel, New York Times bestselling author
“The Lambspun knitters are full of humor, grace, and warmth.”—Fresh Fiction
“These stories just keep getting better as the characters develop and change over the series. Each mystery seems to evolve naturally.”—Gumshoe Review
"The Lambspun gang shows the power of friendship and fiber arts to triumph over greed and self-interest."—Kirkus Reviews
"Readers will enjoy this tightly stitched tale."—Midwest Boook Review
"Kelly is a one-person dynamo."—Genre Go Round Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Dollycas’s Thoughts We return to Fort Connor, Colorado and the House of Lambspun Yarn Shop for the 13th installment of this cozy mystery series. Kelly Flynn, is an accountant and she does her best work while sitting at the big table in the middle of the yarn shop with a big cup of coffee from Pete’s Porch Cafe. It is also the place she catches up on what is happening in town and where she meets Burt Parker, a retired police officer with all the right connections at the local police department. Kelly and Burt have solved several murders by putting their heads together and keeping their ears open. This time the case touches close to home. Barb, who teaches classes at Lambspun, is so proud of her son. Tommy is a doctor completing his residency at the local ER. She talks about him all the time, singing his praises. He has a bright future until a local co-ed accuses him of sexual assault. When she is found dead a few days later Tommy becomes the prime suspect. Kelly and Burt with the help of a few friends are on mission, spinning clues upside down and inside out, to find the truth and catch the real killer. I do love this series. The friendship all of the recurring characters is what makes these stories great. Whether they are getting together at the cafe or the yarn shop or at the baseball fields they are there to help and support each other through things like a huge canyon wildfire or bending the rules a little to get information to help solve the latest mystery. They have each others’ back and can count on each other no matter what. This time the author knits together quite a mystery. I did figure it out a bit before Kelly and Burt but I was second guessing myself a time or two thanks to a few clever twists. She also describes everything so well. There are times where I could almost feel the yarn between my fingers and smell the mountain air. Kelly and Steve’s romance is proceeding nicely and the feud between Kelly’s dog, Carl, and the Brazen Squirrel continues. Both will put a smile on your face. Booking my next visit to Colorado for Book 14 right now!
I’ve mentioned this in a previous review, but 13 certainly not an unlucky number. At least not when it means the 13th in a cozy mystery series! PURL UP AND DIE is one of the best books in the Knitting Mystery series so far! Author Maggie Sefton has written another wonderful whodunit with this book. I went through a lot of nail biting reading this story. I wasn’t sure how the author was going to sort things out at the end of the book. I was so sure I was on the right track at times, but something always happened that completely threw me off. When the reveal came, I was stunned. I really didn’t see it coming. Well done, Ms. Sefton! It would be fun to understand kitting, but it certainly it’s not required to enjoy this book or the series. You may however feel the urge to learn, because the group of characters in this series seem to have a great time with it! I’m very much looking forward to see what mystery author Sefton knits together for the fourteenth installment in this entertaining and wonderfully written series! And don’t miss the knitting pattern and delicious recipe at the back of the book!
Purl Up And Die is the thirteenth book in the A Knitting Mystery series. Another wonderful story from Maggie Sefton. Things are in a turmoil at Lambspun as one of the knitting teachers, Barb, has just learned from her son, Tommy has been charged with assault. Tommy, who is performing his residency at local emergency clinics and after examining her she charges him with assault for improperly touching her. Quite naturally, with Barb being an overprotective mother, she takes this news quite hard and her firnds at Lambspun begin to worry about her mental health. Then when the girl, Laura Brewster, is found murdered things get worse for her. Tommy claims to have been studying for a residency test and therefore has no alibi for the time when Brewster was murdered. Kelly, with the help of her friends at Lambspun set out with their own investigation, since the police seem to think they have an open and shut case. They soon learn that this wasn't the first time that Brewster had made similar charges. Now they just have to track down the killer before it is too late. Knitting pattern and recipes are included with the book. Looking forward to reading the next book in the enjoyable series.
I am sorry, I tried to like it., but it seems to me that there is a lot of filler, a lot of repetitive information and it was quite boring. I hope the next book gets a lot more interesting, or I may not read any more of the series.
I love this series
Boring and a waste of money. No character growth, repetitive, and predictable. This is the last book in the series I will purchase or read. Such a disappointment.
Cache La Poudre Canyon had needed a lot of restoration work since the previous year's wildfires. The land was under transformation, but that wasn't the only thing undergoing change. It had been tough, really tough, for builders during the building bust, but somehow Steve Townsend managed to hang in there. Times had been tough between Steve and Kelly Flynn as well, but that was all in the past. Steve was now a partner in Kaufman and Townsend Construction, a fact that made Kelly über-proud of him. Kelly had experienced a lot since moving to Fort Conner, and in the six years since she'd arrived, the word 'regret' hadn't entered into her vocabulary. Fort Connor was now her home and, of course, Lambspun was her home away from home. Well, perhaps the knitting shop was more like a stone's throw from her doorstep. It was a great place to work on improving her knitting skills, socializing, and balancing financial statements. A good cup of java and Kelly was going to "balance Dan Warner's financial statements or die trying." Lambspun had been somewhat of a murder magnet in a way, but in addition to improving her knit one, purl two technique, Kelly was working on improving her sleuthing abilities. Whenever there was a murder to solve, retired detective Burt Parker was her go to partner. Trouble suddenly seemed to hit Lambspun and it wasn't as simple as a dropped stitch. Big Bossy Barb had been ecstatic over the fact that her son Tommy was a standout resident. The my-son-is-a-doctor babble was practically her mantra until something went terribly awry. "Tommy started pressing on her stomach in serious places," Barb began to explain. The explanation turned incredulous when she relayed the fact that he'd been accused of groping her. Sexual assault. "Can you believe that?" Kelly wasn't quite sure what to think when the overly-protective Barb ranted on. Did little Tommy do in Laura Brewster when he took the night off to, ahem, 'study?' Laura seemed prone to having professional men grope her, or so it seemed. It was a kiss and yell sort of situation that had already been a career wrecker for Professor Smith. Someone had decidedly decided enough was enough and had taken her throat into his hands for the last time. Unfortunately "violence had come close to Lambspun," but the case wasn't quite as easy as it appeared to be. Was Laura a truly unfortunate victim at the hands of men? Was Barb's precious Tommy as innocent as he pretended to be? "He saves lives. He doesn't take them," Barb fumed. Someone was lying and Kelly had to unravel the lies! Kelly Flynn is once again on the trail of a mysterious murderer, working the case with Burt Parker. As expected it's like visiting with an old friend every time I pick up a book in the Knitting Mysteries series. Even though I haven't read them all, they are so well-written I have no problem picking up the storyline where I left off. Kelly is a classy, cool sleuth, one who never fails to disappoint. I love the strong cast of characters, including her Rottweiler, Carl, and Brazen one, the squirrel he never catches. The storyline was tight, fun, and for once I was able to figure out whodunit by putting together those subtle clues. If you've met Kelly before, you'll love this cozy mystery. If not, this series is well worth reading! Quill says: Can you say 'to die for?' Fort Connor's Kelly Flynn is one of the best!
I love visiting Fort Connor and spending time with Kelly and her friends. Kelly and her friends are back in action again with summer ball games, food , fun and murder. The characters are family and with exciting news for some of them to finding out who the killer is you will be captivated and pulled into the story from the start. The atmosphere is welcoming and the friendships have grown so strong over the years. I have been a fan of this series from the start and each book gets better and better, The hardest part is waiting until the next book to come out. This is a must read for knitters and non- knitters, you will fall in love with the town and the people in it. Don't miss out on this sensational read.