The second foray into the Yarn Woman mysteries veers a bit from the first; it takes us out of San Francisco, into the woods and steps slightly away from intense fiber talk.
Ruth M is called to a redwood forest in Northern California to consult on the skeleton of a child found wearing a fragment of a knitted vest. This is a mystery filled with the history and politics of a once-vibrant logging town, and tied to a local ghost story. A mystery that threatens nearly everyone that has any ties to the past by the time the mystery wraps up.
Being out of her regular element and partnered for the most part with a local newspaper woman hasn't put Ruth off of her game. She adapts and digs out the truth.
Wailing Woods is a single full-length mystery (the first Yarn Woman Mystery was three shorter mysteries gathered together) and the feeling has changed a little, for the better. There may be a little less fiber talk, but in exchange we get a more complex mystery and deeper characters. Not to say that there is no fiber talk — the knitted vest found with the skeleton plays a significant role in the solving of the mystery and there is a wonderful passage on dyeing yarn.
I gladly traded the fiber talk for what Menchler did for the characters in this story; they are fleshed out in a satisfying way. Both the mysterious Mr. Kasparov and Ruth get enough background questions answered that you understand their motives much better. Every character in the book seems more solid and interesting than in the first mystery.
I enjoyed this book, especially as a summer read. The setting was wonderfully creepy and the mystery was filled with juicy historic detail. I can't wait for the next one.