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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review - If Walls Could Talk

Juliet Blackwell is one of my favorite authors.  She writes with her sister under the name Hailey Lind and writes the Witchcraft Mysteries under her own name.  When I heard she was starting a new series I jumped on board to review it.  Juliet was also one of the first authors to give me an interview (see that here.) 

Author: Juliet Blackwell

Copyright: Dec 2010 (Signet) 316 pgs

Series: 1st in Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries

Sensuality: N/A

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Character:  Melanie Turner, owner & operator of Construction Company

Setting: Modern day, San Francisco California

Obtained Through: Publisher for an honest review

Melanie took over the construction company from her ailing father - and after her bad divorce she is living with her dad too.  The story starts out with Melanie checking in with a friend (aged former rock star Matt Addax) who is attempting to fix and flip a run down mansion.  It is the day after a "demolition party" that was more party than any real work and Melanie finds Matt passed out.  Melanie and Matt also find Matt's business partner, Kenneth, tortured with a nail gun and his hand cut off.   Melanie cradles Kenneth until EMTs arrive.  Kenneth dies and all he remembers is that Mel held him so his ghost feels connected to her.  

Mel has enough on her mind without worrying about why she is seeing Kenneth.  She has a former boyfriend who works at OSHA investigating to see if her construction company is liable if it is an accident.  Matt is arrested for Kenneth's murder.  Melanie's father wants her married.  Melanie had stored some of Matt's property until construction was done - her garage is broken into and the piano demolished and the rest in the storage locker is also trashed.  Apparently there is something that people are looking for.  Could it be the box she found in the wall with a vintage old journal and a bogus map to a mine?

Melanie is a great character, rebounding from an ill-fated marriage where she put who she was on hold for her husband.  Melanie is piecing herself back together and since her plans to move to Paris have been thwarted she is dealing with the hand she has been dealt.  Melanie is a natural at restoring old homes, taught the trade by her father, she enjoys saving homes and restoring them to glory.  Melanie's dad is cantankerous and the live-in disabled friend who handles the company books is looking to be a wonderful character too.  The potential love interest is a complicated man from Mel's past and while she is still attracted to him they still have "issues". 

The renovation business that the story revolves around works well in this case, not too much on the construction details and I feel I know more of what a hectic business it really is.  The "seeing-dead-people" is not a major focus in this debut novel but promises to be a recurring and perhaps more central theme in subsequent books.  I liked how the ghostly aspect was handled and there are some hints she inherited this capability.  This was a slight bit more of a suspense novel than just a cozy, a few curse words (maybe 10 in the whole book) and at times it is a little "heavier" than a strict cozy.

The plot was pretty good, several suspects are sifted through and there is a suspenseful climax - which I always enjoy the best.  Melanie finds that the old axiom "trust nobody" is paramount as she tries to help her friend Matt and find out what happened to Kenneth so he can move on and leave her alone.  Great new series that I think will be a big hit.

I just had to share a video of everyone's favorite renovation show - Home Improvement - bloopers!

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Mystica said...

Sounds good.

Words on Paper- said...

Nice page, good info. thanks

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