Author: Juliet Blackwell
Today I review the next in the Haunted Home Renovations Mystery series. I have reviewed each in this series from the debut issue. The third, Murder on the House (click here), the second book, Deadbolt (click here), and the debut book, If Walls Could Talk (click here). I have had the great honor of two interviews with the author, the recent interview (click here), and the older author interview (click here).
Copyright: December 2013 (Signet) 337 pgs
Series: 4th in Haunted Home Renovations Mysteries
Sensuality: Some kissing
Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy
Main Characters: Mel Turner, woman construction renovation Owner/Operator
Setting: Modern day, San Francisco
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
Mel Turner volunteers to lead a home renovation project for the underprivileged, and has a side bet going with her father who can finish their project the quickest. It is the first day of the weekend project when one of college student volunteers finds a dead body in a shed. The shed is part of the property next door, known at the murder house because of the family who was murdered there twenty-five years ago. Mel has seen the ghosts in the windows and now she wonders if they are trying to communicate or seek revenge. She tries to restrain herself from getting involved, but homicide Detective Annette Crawford asks for her assistance since the body in the shed was one of two children who survived the killing spree in the house.
Even Detective Crawford wonders if something other-worldly is happening. As if this isn't stressful enough, Mel's incredibly popular, does-no-wrong sister "Cookie" has decided to stay for an indefinite time during apparent marital strife. Mel's anemic self-esteem takes several hits with Cookie in the picture while she is juggling running Turner Construction and helping the police. Graham is present, worrying about her safety and providing fodder for Cookie to try and match-make them.
Mel, the funky dressing female construction guru who has a few extra pounds makes a feisty lead character. In this edition she is trying to embrace her dubious talent by taking classes on it in addition to dealing with her trust issues after her divorce. Cookie, her blond, thin, graceful, guy-magnet sister is annoying for how she manipulates with feminine charms. She was okay for one book, but I am glad she doesn't look like becoming a regular. Graham, high school flame and current love interest, is pretty realistic. We see some progress between them. Detective Annette Crawford is definitely the breakout character as she opens to paranormal explanations as part of her due diligence. She has always been a capable cop, but now there is the potential for Crawford to include Mel in cases as a consultant. I love this idea without the cliche of the cop boyfriend. Mel's friend Luz is present, as well as Olivier and Zack Kobe, a neighborhood juvenile is an added nice touch.
The plot was good and kept my interest. The clues are sprinkled throughout to keep the pace going, and the mix between mystery and home life makes this a good cozy story. There is plenty to draw you in and keep you reading. The climax had my favorite, a blood-pumping killer reveal that topped the story off with a great adrenal rush and some good ghostly chills.
This edition in the series features plenty of interesting characters and suspects, ghostly nuances culminating in a seance and Mel's developing medium talents. This is a great addition to the series and advances the characters, particularly Mel and Graham.
Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list