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Yarn Over Murder (Knitting Mystery Series #12)
     

Yarn Over Murder (Knitting Mystery Series #12)

3.3 13
by Maggie Sefton
 

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In the latest installment of the New York Times bestselling Knitting Mysteries, Kelly Flynn and the House of Lambspun knitters may be able to save the helpless animals in danger from a raging Colorado wildfire, but not the unexpected victim of a cold-blooded murder…
 
Kelly and her knitting pals were checking out the wares at the annual

Overview

In the latest installment of the New York Times bestselling Knitting Mysteries, Kelly Flynn and the House of Lambspun knitters may be able to save the helpless animals in danger from a raging Colorado wildfire, but not the unexpected victim of a cold-blooded murder…
 
Kelly and her knitting pals were checking out the wares at the annual Wool Market when news spread about the wildfires threatening the canyon ranches. With temperatures scorching, the alpacas belonging to Kelly’s good friend Jayleen are in danger. Working fast, Kelly and her pals hightail the herd to the nearby pasture owned by rancher Andrea Holt. But their rescue mission is interrupted by a screaming match where Connie, a longtime employee of House of Lambspun, accuses Andrea of stealing her husband.
 
Days later, Andrea is found dead at her ranch—and suspicion immediately falls on Connie. Now Kelly and her friends must untangle this yarn before Connie ends up dangling by a thread…

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/28/2014
The devastating wildfire that struck Northern Colorado in 2012 dominates Sefton’s somewhat plodding 12th knitting mystery featuring Fort Connor, Colo., accountant Kelly Flynn (after 2013’s Close Knit Murder). Early on, the wildfire threatens the ranch of Jayleen Swinson, and Kelly and her friends rally to rescue Jayleen’s alpaca herd by moving it to Andrea Holt’s ranch in nearby Poudre Canyon. As if this move doesn’t cause enough chaos, Connie Carson shows up to accuse Andrea of stealing her husband, Jim. Also present is Andrea’s ex-husband, Dennis, who’s still hoping to repair their marriage. When Andrea is found dead from an apparently accidental fall, Connie, Dennis, and Jim all come under suspicion. With local police preoccupied with disaster relief, it’s up to Kelly to find the culprit. The rapid growth of the fire, and the human response to it, are powerfully portrayed, relegating the slowly-paced murder investigation to a poor second place. Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds. (June)
From the Publisher
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425258422
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/03/2014
Series:
Knitting Mystery Series , #12
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Acknowledgments

Author’s Note

Yarn Over Murder takes place as Kelly and friends try to help Jayleen save her ranch in Bellevue Canyon. As I mentioned in the author’s note following the previous Knitting Mystery, Close Knit Killer, I don’t usually set my stories so close together in time. I was finishing that novel in early June 2012, almost ready to submit it to my editor, when the High Park wildfire broke out in Rist Canyon, just northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado, where I live (I call that canyon Bellevue Canyon in the mysteries).

Life as normal changed in Fort Collins and the entire area of northern Colorado at that moment. Even though Fort Collins was never in any danger of the wildfire spreading (a large, long reservoir lies between the city and the western edge of the mountains), we were all riveted by the fast-moving, capricious wildfire.

I realized then that I had to include that fire in the mysteries. So I totally revised Close Knit Killer to include Kelly and friends hearing about the wildfire breakout while at the Estes Park Wool Market—on Saturday, June 9, 2012, the actual day the wildfire was reported.

Yarn Over Murder begins exactly where the previous novel, Close Knit Killer, left off, and the High Park wildfire plays a central role. I do not pretend that I have written a newscaster’s account of how the High Park wildfire affected all of our city and surrounding counties. But I did try to include real-life details of those life-changing, dramatic events of June 2012 as seen by Kelly and her friends and all of the folks at Lambspun. Jayleen Swinson has her alpaca ranch in Bellevue Canyon, so everything she’s spent the last fourteen or more years building is at risk. Kelly and all of the characters—the new ones, too—come to Jayleen’s aid. And, as always, a dead body appears, so there’s a murder to solve.

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

KELLY’S FRIENDS:

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

One

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Kelly Flynn steered her boyfriend Steve Townsend’s truck down the main road running from Rocky Mountain National Park into Loveland, Colorado, just south of Fort Connor. Her friends Megan and Marty Harrington said they would meet her with a horse trailer in a shopping center along this street. Scanning a big box parking lot ahead, Kelly thought she spotted Megan and Marty waving at her from the parking lot. Alongside them, there was a large two-horse-sized trailer waiting to be hitched behind Steve’s big red truck.

Kelly had never hitched a trailer before, so she was glad Marty was there to help. Like Steve, Marty came from a ranching family and was familiar with hauling animals around. Kelly’s sporty car didn’t haul anything larger than groceries and potting soil. But today, Steve’s truck was needed, as Kelly and her friends hurried to help their friend Jayleen Swinson rescue her alpaca herd from the wildfire that blazed in Bellevue Canyon, northwest of Fort Connor. Hopefully some of Jayleen’s possessions could be tossed into the truck bed as well. But that depended on how fast the wildfire spread.

First discovered earlier that June Saturday morning, the wildfire was raging, according to the scant news reports Kelly had caught on the truck radio while she drove from the annual Wool Market in Estes Park. She and Steve were by Jayleen’s alpaca stalls in the livestock exhibition area when the news spread about the wildfire in Bellevue Canyon. Steve volunteered to drive Jayleen’s truck and trailer so he could help Curt and Jayleen rush to her ranch in the canyon and rescue her herd.

Meanwhile, Kelly phoned Megan and Marty as well as Lisa and Greg, alerting them to the emergency situation. They could borrow trucks and horse trailers and drive to Bellevue Canyon. Jayleen would need lots of help to move her herd of alpacas down the canyon to safety. Kelly hadn’t heard a word from Steve since. Driving in Colorado’s beautiful canyons often meant no cell phone signal.

She turned into the shopping center lot and pulled up beside the horse trailer. Marty and Megan already had a trailer hitched behind an old faded blue pickup. “Thank you so much for meeting me, guys,” Kelly said, stepping down from the truck. “Did you get that truck and the trailers from Steve’s dad?”

“Naw, my mom and dad brought them over. They’re driving up to Jayleen’s now. So are my aunt and uncle. Jayleen’s gonna need a lot of help,” tall, skinny Marty said as he reached out. “Gimme the keys and I’ll hook this baby up for you. We gotta move fast. I finally reached Steve, and he and Curt and Jayleen just barely got through on Stove Prairie Road, going up the back of Bellevue Canyon. The fire started near there, so the cops are gonna shut down that road soon.” Marty climbed inside Steve’s truck.

“Oh, no, I was hoping we could drive that way to Jayleen’s. It’s much faster than going into the canyon from the northwest entrance in Bellevue.”

“Don’t worry. Marty has some shortcuts,” Megan said, handing Kelly a fast-food takeout bag. “I got you a burger and an iced coffee. We’re all having lunch on the run today.”

“Hey, thanks,” Kelly said, accepting the bag with the familiar logo. She opened the wrapper containing the juicy burger as she watched Marty expertly back Steve’s truck into position right in front of the horse trailer hitch.

“Have you heard from Greg and Lisa yet?” Kelly asked before taking a big bite of burger.

“Yeah, they took Greg’s truck over to Steve’s parents place and hitched up a trailer. They’re already on the way to Jayleen’s ranch, too. That road is gonna be crowded for sure.” She peered toward the foothills beside them. “We spotted white smoke when we drove over.”

White smoke. That was the first sign of fire. Then the smoke would quickly darken as it started to burn trees, especially pine trees with sap in them. Kelly anxiously peered over the uneven rocky ridge called Devil’s Backbone that blocked a good view of the foothills. She couldn’t see smoke yet.

“Burt is watching over Jayleen’s alpacas at the Wool Market, along with Cassie and Eric,” Kelly said. “Mimi and Burt will take care of everything up there. Thank goodness Jayleen’s got a third of her herd there.”

“Okay, it’s all hitched. We’d better get going,” Marty said, striding toward the faded blue pickup. “There’s gonna be a ton of people on the road. We’re taking Taft Hill up to Overland Trail then Centennial Road beside the lake. Then cut through the side roads to the mouth of the canyon. Stay right behind me, Kelly, so we don’t get separated. Firefighters will be coming in from other counties, so we’ll have to fight our way through traffic.”

“You got it.” Kelly shoved the rest of the burger back into the bag and headed toward Steve’s truck. Meanwhile, she sent a fervent plea above that she didn’t crash into anything as she maneuvered the truck and trailer around narrow canyon roads.

Revving the engine, Kelly proceeded to follow Marty and Megan out of Loveland and north into Fort Connor. Once they turned onto Overland Trail, which hugged the foothills that ran along the western edge of the city, that’s when Kelly saw it. The smoke. White smoke billowing up behind the ridges in the distance. Puffy white clouds climbing into the sky. And nearby, other smoke billowed. Dark smoke, charcoal gray, almost black. The sight of it caused Kelly’s heart to lurch.

She followed Marty as he turned left onto a county road that went up into the foothills and skirted the long narrow Horsetooth Reservoir that lay between Fort Connor and the western edge of the foothills. Running nearly the length of the city, it was a popular recreational escape. However, Kelly noticed as many people lining the top of the reservoir this hot, ninety-plus degree Saturday afternoon as those boating and swimming in the waters below. People staring west into the foothills and the canyons beyond, watching the smoke billow and rise.

That fearful feeling stayed with Kelly as she drove along, leaving the reservoir behind as the road wound down into the Bingham Hill valley, usually a beautiful green space of pastures. This summer, barely green. Buffalo once filled this picturesque valley, according to accounts of early pioneers who gazed down from Bingham Hill above. But La Niña’s dry weather had chased away all of February and March’s normal snows and brought scant April rains. May and June were dry to crackling in the record-breaking heat, in the upper nineties day after day.

The road finally joined another that turned west and headed into the mouth of Bellevue Canyon. Marty slowed ahead, and Kelly watched several cars and pickups pass by. Others were doing the exact same thing. Coming to help out their canyon neighbors any way they could. Kelly stayed behind Marty as they wound their way up into Bellevue Canyon. The horse trailer rattled behind Steve’s truck, and Kelly wondered what it would feel like once two alpacas were loaded inside.

Although Kelly could no longer see the smoke plumes as they drove up into the canyon, she could smell the smoke in the air. Strong. Acrid. Pretty soon they would be able to see it. All those billowing clouds of white and black smoke would spread everywhere. All of Fort Connor would soon smell like smoke.

As the road climbed higher, getting closer to Jayleen’s ranch, traffic slowed as more trucks appeared. And the smoke got heavier. Cresting the hill right above the ranch, Kelly peered down the hillside. She thought she spotted Jayleen’s and Curt’s trucks and other trucks clustered below near Jayleen’s barn and pastures. Marty’s turn signal flashed and she followed suit as they slowed to turn into the long gravel driveway leading to the ranch yard. The horse trailer rattled even more on the gravel road. Curt waved at them and pointed to a place on the right side of the ranch yard where they could park.

Kelly waited for Marty to pull in and park, then she did the same. The acrid smoke smell irritated her nostrils as she breathed it in. Smoke hung in the air now. Steve ran up as soon as she exited the truck.

“Hey, good job,” Steve said as he pulled her into his arms for a big hug and kiss. “You guys got here just in time. Cops are gonna close the road soon. Fire has spread from Stove Prairie and jumped the canyon road. It’s doubled since this morning, they said.”

Kelly hugged him back hard. Jumped the canyon road. That means it would start spreading even faster into Bellevue Canyon. Only a couple of ridges separated Jayleen’s ranch from the downward slope that led to Stove Praire Road. The small hundred-plus-year-old Stove Prairie mountain school with its wooden building would be right in the wildfire’s path, if it wasn’t burned already. “I’m so glad you guys got through on that road. The canyon road is packed.”

“It’s gonna get worse. So we’ll have to load up and get out. There’ll only be time for one trip.” Steve looked over his shoulder. “Damn. Ash is falling already.”

Kelly looked up and saw tiny grayish flakes floating in the air above them. Her gut squeezed. That was a bad sign. Burning trees. Lots of trees burning. She brushed her hand across Steve’s sweaty, dirt-smeared face. Today’s upper nineties heat was even higher this close to the fire. “Do we have enough trailers to get the rest of the alpacas out? Jayleen had a whole bunch at the Wool Market. But most of them were still here, I think, including my six alpacas.”

“Yeah, I think so. Some more of Jayleen’s friends brought their trucks and trailers. Marty’s parents and Curt’s daughter and husband already got here, loaded up, and are gone. You probably passed them on the road but didn’t recognize their trucks.” He ran the back of his hand across his forehead, smearing the sooty dirt even more.

“Hey, you made it!” a familiar voice called from behind.

Kelly turned to see friends Lisa and Greg loading boxes into the back of a green truck. A horse trailer with two alpacas was hitched behind. “Where are we taking the alpacas?” Kelly asked as she raced over to her friends.

“To that woman’s ranch in Poudre Canyon,” Greg said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. He dumped the box into the flatbed.

“She’s a friend of Jayleen’s who lives up the Poudre. Andrea something. She and that guy were here when we drove up.” Lisa wiped a bandanna across her face, smearing the dirt. Even Lisa’s light blonde hair looked darker, dingy, Kelly noticed.

Kelly looked over at the man and woman who were loading a skittish alpaca onto a trailer. Or rather, trying to. The man, who was wearing a KISS concert tee shirt, appeared unsure of how to handle the alpaca as it danced sideways, clearly frightened by the smoke and smell and confusion. He grabbed for the rope and Kelly noticed a tattoo on his arm. The woman took the rope lead from his hands and started talking to the alpaca, soothing the animal so she could load it safely inside the trailer. When she moved to the side, Kelly spotted a similar tattoo on the woman’s arm that looked like a dragon. She figured they must be a couple if they had matching tattoos.

“Kelly, I’m going to grab more of Jayleen’s things from the house. We can fill up the back of my truck before we head out.” Steve started toward the ranch house.

“I’m gonna grab another load,” Greg said. “This will be the only run we can make out of here. Cops are gonna close off the canyon road if they haven’t already. You should grab another load, too.” He nodded to Lisa.

“Yeah, in a minute.” Turning to Kelly, she started to say something, but broke into a cough instead. “Man, the smoke is getting worse. You guys need to load up everything you can and head back. We can meet up once we’re out of the canyon. I already talked to Megan and Marty.” She coughed again.

“Sounds like a plan,” Kelly said as Lisa took off for the ranch house. Kelly’s eyes stung already, and she felt the acrid smoke burning her nostrils as she breathed.

The ranch yard was a riot of noise and people. Megan was carrying a box from the ranch house. Marty was loading an alpaca into the trailer behind the faded blue pickup. People she didn’t know were on the ranch porch. She spotted Jayleen standing in the corral surrounded by alpacas. Kelly noticed there were a lot fewer animals than usual. Thank goodness. Friends rushing to Jayleen’s rescue were thinning the herd. She scanned the remaining alpacas and didn’t see her six animals. Jayleen must have sent them earlier when Curt’s relatives came to help transport them to his ranch.

Curt stood next to the corral fence, clearly giving orders to people. He waved at Kelly, then handed off an alpaca to a bearded man and pointed toward her. The bearded man started walking Kelly’s way. He was wearing a faded Springsteen concert tee shirt. She smiled. What was it with the concert shirts? She didn’t spot any tattoos unless they were hiding under his beard.

“Are you Kelly?” the man called as she approached.

“Yes, I’m here with the guy in the green CSU tee shirt,” she said.

The man glanced over his shoulder. “Oh, yeah, Steve. He was already here when I drove up. Said you were coming with the trailer. Which one is it? Curt wants me to load for you.”

“The red one,” Kelly managed before she coughed several times. She pointed toward Steve’s truck.

“Yeah, it’s gettin’ pretty bad out here. Cops will be starting to chase people away soon.”

“You mean evacuate?” Kelly said, as they walked toward Steve’s truck.

“Yep. I live up Poudre Canyon, and that’s what happened last year with the Crystal Lakes fire. People were all told to get out. We were lucky with that one.”

“This is it,” Kelly said, and opened the trailer’s back doors.

“Hold him for me while I set up the ramp,” the man said, handing Kelly the lead to the gray alpaca. It looked like Jayleen’s Gray Ghost.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Kelly soothed the animal, whose anxious gaze told her how frightening this situation was for gentle creatures who lived simply in the beautiful mountain scenery, grazing on grass surrounded by its fellows. Alpacas were herd animals and did not like being separated.

“Okay, here you go,” the man said as he took the gray’s lead again and beckoned the hesitating alpaca up the trailer ramp.

Kelly finally realized where she’d seen him before. When he mentioned he lived “up the Poudre” she remembered seeing him a year ago when she and Jennifer were meeting in a real estate client’s cabin. This man was the “shaggy guy” Kelly had seen hiding in the bushes outside, spying on them. Burt said he was the neighbor next door.

Since she couldn’t remember his name, she decided this was a good time to find out more about this guy. “Thanks so much,” Kelly said as the man walked down the ramp. “What’s your name? Jayleen has lots of friends.” She held out her hand. “I’m Kelly Flynn.”

“Dennis. Dennis Holt,” he said, giving Kelly’s hand a quick shake.

Deep blue eyes, she noticed. And a firm handshake. Rough hands. Outdoor hands. Steve’s hands used to be rougher, before he started working down in Denver. “Do you have alpacas, too? On your ranch in the Poudre?”

“Only a few. Used to have more when my wife and I were still married. But she’s got most of them now.” He glanced over his shoulder toward the brunette woman and man loading a second alpaca into their horse trailer. The woman was stroking the head of a skittish younger caramel brown alpaca.

Kelly didn’t know the woman or the man with her. But Dennis Holt’s comment aroused her curiosity. “Is her ranch up the Poudre? Is that where Jayleen wants us to take the alpacas?”

“Yep.” He nodded his head. “Andrea’s got a big pasture. There’s plenty of room. I can only add a couple to my little herd since I have less pasture at my place. But I’m right near the water.” He gave Kelly a smile.

Nice smile. It softened his bearded features and he no longer looked shaggy and scary. Amazing how a simple smile could accomplish that, Kelly thought. “Boy, are you lucky. I love going up into the canyon and just sitting on a rock beside the Poudre.”

Dennis grinned. “You got that right, Kelly. Let me load another alpaca, then you folks can head out of here. Oh, you could check inside the house and see what else needs to be taken out. Some of Jayleen’s friends are helping to load up stuff.”

“Sure thing.” Kelly followed Dennis across the ranch yard, then stopped when Greg and Lisa pulled in front of her in the green truck.

“Hey, let’s meet up outside of Landport,” Greg said, leaning out the truck window. “One of the fast-foods on North College. Grab something to eat and get gas before we head up the Poudre. Sound okay?”

“Yeah. I’ll tell Steve. Drive safely,” Kelly said as she waved them off. The horse trailer rattled and shook, moving side to side a bit, she noticed uneasily. Oh, boy.

She looked around, searching for Steve, then spotted him dumping a box into the back of Marty’s faded blue pickup. He looked up and beckoned.

“Hey, I saw that guy loading alpacas into our trailer, so let’s start putting stuff in my truck. We’re trying to empty out Jayleen’s file cabinet, just in case.”

“Thanks, buddy, I think we’re gonna head off,” Marty said, looking around. “Have you seen Megan?”

“Yeah, she’s inside.” Steve coughed, long and deep.

“Whoa, you need to get out of here,” Kelly said. “Let me grab some boxes inside and start loading. This stuff is getting thick.”

“Yeah, it is. We need to grab what we can and head out. Did Greg talk to you, Marty?”

Marty nodded, then waved to Megan. “Yeah, we’re meeting at the fast-food plaza on North College,” he said, then waved. “Hey, Megan! Let’s get going now!”

“See you down below,” Kelly called over her shoulder as she and Steve headed for the ranch house.

Just then, Curt started walking their way. “You two better get on that road. Get those animals to Andrea’s,” he said as he approached. “We moved your alpacas first, Kelly. My daughter and son-in-law both brought trailers, and they took four of yours. I’m carrying the last two with me. We’re gonna put them all in that front corral at my ranch along with Jayleen’s animals. My sister hauled off two of them, and Jayleen will take the two that are left.”

Kelly spotted Curt’s truck and peered at the rear ends of two alpacas showing in the back. “Looks like you’re carrying my smoke gray and the cinnamon brown.”

“Yep. I’m gonna fence off a separate pasture for all of them.”

“Let us know when you get to your ranch, Curt,” Marty called through the truck window as he and Megan started down the driveway.

Curt waved and nodded in reply as the truck spit gravel.

“We were going to get more of Jayleen’s things from the house,” Steve said.

Curt’s face was smeared with dirt and soot like Steve’s. He reached out and clamped his hand on Steve’s shoulder. “You’ve already done more than your share, Steve. Jayleen and I couldn’t have gotten those animals loaded as fast as we did without you. Now, you and Kelly get the hell out of here.”

Kelly glanced over at Jayleen, who was leading a younger alpaca up the ramp of her truck trailer. “How’s she doing, Curt?”

“Okay, once we got to the ranch. It was the not knowing that was killing her.” He wiped his sweat-drenched shirt-sleeve across his forehead. “Once she saw the animals were still okay, she came back to herself. Saving the animals was all that she cared about. Those are her babies.”

Steve stared at the ranch house. “Damn. I’d hate to see this place burn. But I swear if it does, I’m going to rebuild it for her.”

Curt gave a crooked smile. “Now, don’t you go worrying about that, Steve. Right now, you two have got to get out of here safely. Police will start evacuating people real soon.”

“You’re sure you’ve got enough trailers for the animals?” Kelly craned her neck. Jayleen was loading another alpaca.

“Yeah, thanks to Dennis. He brought his trailer and that was nine trailers loaded. We’ll worry about the ones up at the Wool Market later. I already talked to Burt and he and Mimi are gonna keep the kids with them at Estes Park overnight at a motel. And they’ll be on duty tomorrow until Jayleen and I can get up there. Bless their hearts.”

“You’re going to have a long drive back to your ranch,” Steve said, shaking his head. “With Stove Prairie Road closed by the fire, you’ll be going all the way back into Fort Connor then south then west again to get back to the lower Buckhorn Valley.”

“Yeah, it’ll be a long ride, for sure. My daughter’s already there with the rest of the grandkids, finding places for the animals. Bringing in Jayleen’s things. It’s going to be a busy night, so I sure am glad Burt and Mimi are taking care of things in Estes Park.”

The sound of another car pulling up into the ranch yard caught Kelly’s attention, and she turned to see Connie Carson from the Lambspun knitting shop jump out of her small black sedan and stride across the ranch yard. She looked like she was headed toward Jayleen’s alpaca rancher friend, Andrea, who was opening the door to her navy blue truck, clearly getting ready to drive away. Her male friend stood on the other side of the truck and was staring wide-eyed at Connie.

YOU! I knew he was with you! You bitch!” Connie yelled, face red, arm outstretched as she pointed at Andrea. She reached out and pushed Andrea.

Clearly caught off guard, Andrea stumbled backward a little, but quickly caught herself. She stepped toward Connie, shoving her hand out. “Back off! Get away from me!”

“What the hell? That’s Connie!” Steve stared, incredulous.

“Good Lord. That’s the last thing we need,” Curt said and hurried toward Connie and Andrea, who were both yelling at each other.

“You get away from me!” Andrea warned, pointing her own finger at Connie. “Back off! We’re trying to help Jayleen. Go have your nervous breakdown somewhere else.”

At that, Connie stiffened and let loose another expletive, then charged toward Andrea again. But this time, Curt grabbed Connie around the waist and pulled her away from Andrea before Connie could get to her. Kelly noticed that Andrea stood her ground and didn’t move. The man with her stood beside the trailer and watched wide-eyed.

“That must be Connie’s husband,” Steve said. “Did you know that they broke up?”

“No, I mean, not officially. Connie’s always made it sound like they fought a lot but always made up. So, this is news to me.” She shook her head. “Man, this is a bad way to discover your spouse is out with another woman.”

Jayleen climbed over the corral fence and raced over to where Curt held a struggling, furious Connie, who was still shouting accusations at Andrea.

“We were getting back together! Then you interfered! You bitch! You have no right!”

“Connie, calm down,” Curt said, keeping her trapped in his embrace.

“It’s her fault! Jim and I were getting together . . .”

“Shut up, Connie!” the man yelled suddenly, his face red. “That’s a lie and you know it! We haven’t been together for six months!”

Connie looked stunned for a moment, then yelled back. “No! No!”

Jayleen stepped between Connie and Andrea then. “You two better get going,” she said over her shoulder to Andrea, then turned to comfort Connie.

Andrea and Jim got into the navy blue truck and revved the engine, then drove slowly down the gravel driveway. Once again Kelly watched a horse trailer sway behind a truck. Slower this time, since two alpacas were aboard.

Connie suddenly burst into tears and buried her face in Jayleen’s shirt. Jayleen patted Connie on the back as Curt released her. A personal tragedy or melodrama, in the midst of all this chaos and impending disaster.

“I think we’d better do the same,” Steve advised, pointing to his truck. “Cops are going to start clearing folks out, if they haven’t already. Roads will be clogged.”

Kelly and Steve swiftly walked past Connie and Jayleen. Kelly did reach out and give Jayleen’s arm a squeeze. Like one of Mother Mimi’s reassuring gestures.

“Call us when you get to your ranch,” Steve called to Curt as he and Kelly climbed into the red truck. Curt gave them both a thumbs-up as Steve revved the big engine.

“Traffic will be a nightmare,” Kelly predicted as they started down the gravel driveway, slowly.

“Ohh, yeah.”

Two

Later Saturday afternoon

Steve turned his truck into the crowded fast-food plaza located in northern Fort Connor. Greg, Lisa, Megan, and Marty were already parked beside one of the familiar fast-food restaurants located in the plaza. Kelly climbed out of the truck the moment it pulled to a stop.

“Whoa! I never thought we’d get off that road,” she complained, leaning over toward the ground in a big stretch. “Traffic is really slow going with all the cars and trucks on the canyon road.”

“Bumper to bumper for an hour,” Megan said as she leaned against the faded blue pickup and sipped from a soda can. “Everyone is evacuating the canyon now.”

A steady stream of traffic was turning from the road that led into north Fort Connor from Landport, the small town that sat on Fort Connor’s northwestern edge. A main highway ran through the town, branching off for Bellevue Canyon, then continuing farther northwest to the Cache La Poudre Canyon.

“Man, every firefighter in northern Colorado must be here,” Steve said as he stretched his arms over his head. “I even saw National Guard guys in Jack’s Supply parking lot.”

“Yeah, my cousin is in the National Guard unit here, and I betcha they’re called in soon. The Armory’s over on West LaPorte Avenue,” Marty said, a slice of pizza in one hand and a soda in the other.

“The fried chicken is good,” Lisa said, motioning to a familiar logo. “Greg’s getting a whole bucket, so there’ll be plenty.”

Kelly’s stomach rumbled. “Yum. Fried chicken does sound good. I may snitch some.”

“Why don’t I just buy us some,” Steve suggested. “Who knows how long it will take us to get these animals taken care of at that ranch up Poudre Canyon. Andrea said it was a few miles before Poudre Park, on the right. Yellow ranch house set behind the corrals. What do you want to drink, Kelly?”

“Iced coffee would be great. Fried chicken sounds good. Looks like Greg is enjoying it.” She pointed to Greg as he approached, holding a large plastic bucket of fried chicken with one hand while he munched on a chicken leg he held in the other.

Steve grinned. “That’s a recommendation. Why don’t you catch them up on the soap opera that started before we drove off,” he said, then headed for the red and white building down fast-food row.

“Ooh, that does look good,” Lisa said, taking a crispy brown chicken breast from the bucket. “Thanks, hon.” She gave Greg a kiss. He had already polished off the chicken leg and was devouring a large crispy piece.

“What soap opera was that?” Megan asked, lifting a slice of pizza from the carton that lay open on the truck.

“Oh, brother, I can’t believe it,” Kelly said, brushing hair away from her forehead. There was less smoke down here in town, but the acrid smell was still in the air. “Connie from the shop came driving up Jayleen’s driveway, jumped out of her car, then started screaming at Andrea Holt, Jayleen’s rancher friend. Calling her names and yelling and even shoving her. Andrea caught herself before she fell over. But Connie was spitting fire. Accused Andrea of stealing her husband. That was the guy with Andrea.”

“Whoa!” Marty said, before diving into another pizza slice.

“No way!” Megan looked up, wide-eyed.

“Oh, yeah. Connie’s got a temper,” Lisa said.

“How do you know?” Greg asked, momentarily distracted from the half-eaten chicken breast in his hand.

“I’ve heard her on the phone arguing with her husband. Yelling at him sometimes. She’s always done it outside, pacing around the parking lot near the golf course. But she gets really riled up. She and he have been in counseling a couple of times over the years. Things will get quieter, and Connie will say how good things are. Then, they explode again.” Lisa wagged her head. “I’ve suggested some individual counseling to her several times, but Connie never wants to go. She always says, ‘It’ll be all right.’ Or, ‘We’ll get back together.’ Something like that. Then, a few months later, it starts all over again.” Lisa returned to the crispy chicken.

The steady stream of traffic hadn’t let up or slowed down, Kelly noticed. People were evacuating not only themselves and whatever belongings they could carry, but also their pets and livestock. Trucks dragging trailers with horses, alpacas, and all sorts of livestock rolled by. All of them were also loaded with luggage, bags, appliances. Pets poked their heads out of car windows next to children and adults. The evacuation of Bellevue Canyon residents was in full swing.

“Well, it sounds like this time they’ve split for good,” Kelly observed, leaning against Steve’s truck.

“What makes you say that?” Megan asked.

“Well, her husband—”

“Jim. Jim Carson,” Lisa interjected between bites.

“Husband Jim yelled at Connie to ‘shut up’ when Connie was shouting that she and he were getting back together and was accusing Andrea of getting in the way and interfering. Anyway, Jim yelled that he and Connie hadn’t been together for six months.”

“Uh-oh,” Greg observed.

“Not good,” Marty added.

“Poor Connie,” Megan said, looking concerned. “What’d she say after that?”

“She kind of lost it.”

“Sounds like she already did.”

“Well, she started yelling and getting even redder in the face. And she would have gone after Andrea again if Curt hadn’t grabbed her. Then she broke down in tears on Jayleen’s chest as Andrea and Jim drove off.”

“Oh, brother. She really does need to see someone,” Lisa said, tossing the chicken bone into a trash bag.

“Kind of sounds like she’s been deluding herself about their relationship,” Greg opined sagely, then started on another crispy piece of chicken.

“Very astute. The doctor is in.” Kelly teased with a grin.

Greg gave a nonchalant shrug. “I’ve been sleeping with a psych major. It’s rubbed off.”

Lisa rolled her eyes and smiled, as Megan giggled. Marty, on the other hand, looked over at Greg with concern.

“Is it contagious? Don’t stand too close, Megan.”

Kelly joined her friends’ laughter as she looked over at the congested flow of traffic. “Man, I sure hope it’s easier to get up the Poudre Canyon. This is a mess.”

“It should be. I was talking with a guy in the pizza place and he says Larimer County is taking in evacuees’ livestock and animals at the county’s new exhibition building, the Ranch,” Marty said. “So a lot of this traffic will be headed out to the interstate and south of town.”

“You hope.” Greg glanced over. “I was talking to a couple while I was getting the chicken and they said that the Red Cross has set up a place for Bellevue Canyon evacuees in the Landport middle school gym. And that’s right back up this road.” He jerked his thumb toward the main road that ran past the fast-food plaza.

“At least we can take the bypass around Landport this time,” Lisa suggested.

“Man, the Red Cross is setting up a shelter. The National Guard is probably gathering in the Armory. This is starting to look like a real disaster.”

“Don’t say it, Marty,” Megan said, squeezing her eyes shut. “I don’t even want to think it.”

Kelly didn’t say a word, but it was clear: This was already a disaster. With their forests dry as kindling and pine bark beetles damaged, and with dead trees mixed in between the green, it was a disaster ready to happen. A strong breeze suddenly blew her hair across her face. Oh, no. The wind. That was the worst thing that could happen.

“Uh, oh,” Marty said, glancing around. “Wind’s picking up. That’s bad news.”

“Crap!” Greg swore, looking up.

Kelly watched the branches of the tall cottonwoods nearby sway in the strong breeze. “Now that fire’s going to spread even faster.”

“Oh, Lord,” Lisa said, gathering the trash bag and napkins so they didn’t blow away. “Please don’t let that fire spread to the Poudre Canyon.”

Kelly’s gut clenched. Please, no. She looked up and saw Steve hurrying their way, a bucket of fried chicken under one arm, drinks in his other hand.

“Hey, guys, we gotta get these animals up the Poudre now. Some guys inside told me they’d just heard on their shortwave radio that the wind has whipped up the wildfire in Bellevue Canyon worse. It’s already climbed one ridge and is roaring toward another. Not enough people to stop it, even with all the firefighters from all over northern Colorado. It’s out of control.” He handed off the drink tray to Kelly.

“We need tanker planes to dump water,” Megan said.

“Let’s go, hon,” Marty said, grabbing the pizza box.

“You ready?” Greg asked Lisa as he pulled out his keys.

“Gotta make a pit stop first,” Lisa said. “I’ll be quick.” She hurried back toward the fast-food restaurant.

“Hey, me, too,” Megan said, following.

Not a bad idea, Kelly thought. “Make that a threesome,” she said, and took off after her friends. She had a feeling it was going to be a long ride into Poudre Canyon.

•   •   •

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Praise for the Knitting Mysteries by Maggie Sefton

“The Lambspun gang shows the power of friendship and fiber arts to triumph over greed and self-interest.”—Kirkus Reviews

“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

“Series fans will …be on the edge of their seats with a cliffhanger ending.” —Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

Maggie Sefton is the New York Times bestselling author of the Knitting Mysteries, including 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. She is the mother of four grown daughters, currently scattered around the globe, and resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with two very demanding dogs.

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Yarn Over Murder 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series...until this book. It is all about the wildfire and barely touched on a mystery or knitting. There are several other knitting mystery series. I am sticking to those from now on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This books starts out where the last book left off, going to rescue Jayleen's alpacas. I started reading this series because I love mysteries and I love knitting. There wasn't much of either in this book. This book was mostly about the Colorado wildfire. Take that out and the book could have been about 25 pages.
GrandmaR More than 1 year ago
this rendition was described as "plodding." that adjective is overly generous. The book could have been edited to forty pages with no loss of "narrative."   Repititious and utterly boring.Cozy mysteries are not intended to compete for a Pulitzer, but this novel reads more like a high school paper.Surely  I am done with Sefton and wish I could get my money back.  An absolute waste of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series had been one of my favorites but this last book may change that.  Ms. Sefton, get thee to a competent editor immediately!  While Ms.Sefton has the premise of a good plot, it becomes bogged down in the very detailed reporting of a wildfire that is raging in the area of Ft. Connor, Colorado.  After devoting the first 97 pages (out of 197) to the fire, I decided enough was enough and put the book down.  Considering that the 197 pages also contained a recipe and a knitting pattern, the reader is left with half a book that is devoted to describing a wildfire. My point is that a good mystery is tightly written and does not contain much information that is not essential to the plot, the characters or the setting.  There was way too much information about the fire that did not impact on the facts of the case.  It kept getting in the way of the plot.  I also wish that she would introduce more than 1 or 2 red herrings as they add to the question of who did it and why.  Lately Ms. Sefton’s books have become formulaic and it very easy to decipher the plot.  I am hoping that this was a one off and that Ms. Sefton returns to the writing I found so enjoyable in her first books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not my favorite, but still good. I like how the setting came into play. The forest fire gave Fort Conner a more realistic feel.
LisaKsBooksReviews More than 1 year ago
Author Maggie Sefton has spun another exciting yarn in the Knitting Mystery series.  First let me say that I love that Ms. Sefton includes a cast of characters list at the beginning of her books. For new comers to the series it’s a wonderful guide to help you catch up and keep on track. Or, if you have a Swiss cheesed memory like mine, it will help those returning to the series with a remindful nudge.  Readers might think a series that is on its twelfth installment may be the same ole, same old. That is far from true with this series, and book number twelve, YARN OVER MURDER. While returning us to familiar character and settings, Ms. Sefton manages to keep things fresh and exciting. A true sign of a gifted writer.  The horrible High Park wildfire near Fort Collins, Colorado, serves as part of the backdrop in this story. Author Sefton deftly intermingled protagonist Kelly and her knitting group into the real life drama. She created an electrifying murder mystery in this story and proved yet again her why she is an admired author. And she has solidified the future of this wonderful series.  If you’ve never read another book in this series, please do read YARN OVER MURDER and enjoy a truly exciting story. (Warning: Reading this book will make you want to read the rest of the series. ¿)  And don’t stop reading once the story is done or you’ll miss a knitting pattern, a recipe, and a sneak peek of book number lucky thirteen, PURL UP AND DIE!
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Dollycas More than 1 year ago
It’s early summer in Fort Connor, Colorado, and a herd of alpacas requires rescuing from a raging wildfire. Kelly Flynn and the House of Lambspun knitters may be able to save the helpless animals, but not the unexpected victim of a cold-blooded murder… The Annual Wool Market is interrupted with news of a huge wildfires raging through the canyon. Kelly’s friend Jaylene’s ranch seems to right in the projected path of the fires. Kelly gathers as many of her friends as possible with pickups and trailers and heads to the ranch to rescue Jayleen’s and Kelly Alpacas and get them moved to a safe place. Jayleen’s friend, Andrea Holt, has offered space at her ranch for some of the animals and the rest will go to Curt’s ranch. But before they barely start loading animals Connie, a longtime employee of House of Lambspun storms up the driveway accusing Andrea of stealing her husband. Days later, Andrea is found dead at her ranch—and suspicion immediately falls on Connie. Now Kelly and her friends must untangle this yarn before Connie ends up dangling by a thread… Dollycas’s Thoughts The author left us with quite a cliffhanger in Close Knit Killer so I couldn’t wait to read this book and she didn’t disappoint. This was story was quite exciting. Maggie Sefton drew on the actual wildfires in Colorado back in 2012 and created a very engaging mystery. There were more than a few nail biting moments, most with the fire but with tracking down the murderer too. I really love the friendship the blooms in every one of these Knitting Mysteries. Cassie has been brought right into the fold and has quickly become part of the Lambspun family. I have to say Burt, the retired police detective and Lambspun “spinner in residence” was everywhere in this story. He was running between all the shelters making sure people displaced by the fires had everything they needed. He also was the go-between for Kelly and Dan, the local police officer on the case, and he still taught his spinning classes at Lambspun. I wish I had half of his energy. All the rest of the gang was there too doing what they could, whether it be feeding the firefighters or knitting things to replace clothes lost in the fires. They were also doing all they could to help Connie. I have enjoyed each and every visit to Fort Connor, Colorado and can’t wait to return next year to see what Kelly and the gang get tangled up in next. Yarn Over Murder is Smokin’ Hot!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
chefdt More than 1 year ago
Yarn Over Murder is the twelfth book in the A Knitting Mystery series. It's always enjoyable to sit down and read about the happenings at the House of Lambpsun. Even though I'm not a knitter I like to envision all the different types of yarns and colors as Kelly Flynn visits with the people of the knitting shop. Kelly and her friends from Lambspun are rushing to Jayleen's Alpaca ranch to trailer her Alpaca's and move as they fear that the wildfire just might destroy the ranch. Then they will be headed to Andrea's ranch in hopes that it will be out of harms way. As the Alpaca's are being unloaded, Connie Carson who works at Lambspun arrives as gets involved in a physical and verbal confrontation with Andrea. Accusing her of stealing her husband. The next day Kelly and her friends learn that Andrea has been found dead at the bottom of stairs to house, where she has apparently fallen. What with the argument that Connie had with Andrea's she becomes a prime suspect, but Kelly and her friends at Lambspun feel she is innocent, even though Connie's demeanor has changed drastically. With the wildfires burning intensely, the police are tied up and Kelly and her friends begin to look into what really happened to Andrea, was it an accident or murder. Ms Sefton, once again, provides the reader with an exciting story and as a back drop skillfully blends in facts of the High Park Wildfire of 2012, that gives the reader a feeling of really having been there. Definitely looking forward to next book in this interesting series to see what problems are next for Kelly to unravel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No duedates have oucured yet. Notes: to Sherbert: I said after 27 and you cannot say how many points you have, becuase you dont know. To Chery: i said after 27 not with it. You may alter your awnser. To Spy: you have 5 points so far. To unknown: this is not a quiz. >:T