Authors: Maggie Sefton
Berkley Prime Crime titles by Maggie Sefton
KNIT ONE, KILL TWO
NEEDLED TO DEATH
A DEADLY YARN
A KILLER STITCH
DROPPED DEAD STITCH
SKEIN OF THE CRIME
CAST ON, KILL OFF
CLOSE KNIT KILLER
YARN OVER MURDER
PURL UP AND DIE
DOUBLE KNIT MURDERS
An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
This book is an original publication of the Berkley Publishing Group.
Copyright Â© 2015 by Margaret Conlan Aunon.
Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.
BERKLEYÂ® PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME design are trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.
For more information, visit penguin.com.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-18555-5
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Purl up and die / Maggie Sefton.âFirst edition.
pages ; cm.â(A knitting mystery ; 12)
ISBN 978-0-425-25844-6 (hardback)
PS3619.E37P87 2015 2014049827
: June 2015
Cover illustration by Chris O'Leary.
Cover design by Rita Frangie.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written. The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision. The publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes contained in this book.
financial accountant and part-time sleuth, refugee from East Coast corporate CPA firm
architect and builder in Fort Connor, Colorado, and Kelly's boyfriend
real estate agent, part-time waitress
IT consultant, another corporate refugee
lawyer, Megan's husband
university instructor, Lisa's boyfriend
owner of Pete's Porch CafÃ© in the back of Kelly's favorite knitting shop, House of Lambspun
LAMBSPUN FAMILY AND REGULARS:
Lambspun shop owner and knitting expert, known to Kelly and her friends as “Mother Mimi”
retired Fort Connor police detective, Lambspun spinner-in-residence
Hilda and Lizzie von Steubenâ
spinster sisters, retired school-teachers, and exquisite knitters
Colorado rancher, Kelly's mentor and advisor
Alpaca rancher and Colorado cowgirl
Connie and Rosaâ
Lambspun shop personnel
A Monday in early July, one year after the High Park Wildfire
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 cafÃ© 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 CafÃ© 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 cafÃ© 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 cafÃ©.
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
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 cafÃ©.
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.
â¢Â Â Â â¢Â Â Â â¢
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 âmaster' 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
! 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
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.
â¢Â Â Â â¢Â Â Â â¢
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.