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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review - Dead Bolt

Our second entry for the paranormal mystery books features a badly haunted house!  I reviewed the first in this new series, "If Walls Could Talk" (click here) and I couldn't wait for the next book to be released. Ms Blackwell was also one of the first authors to give me an interview (see that here.)

Author: Juliet Blackwell

Copyright: Dec 2011 (Signet) 336 pgs

Series: 2nd in Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries

Sensuality:  mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy

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

Setting: Modern day, San Francisco California

Obtained Through: Publisher -ARC-for an honest review

Melanie is renovating a historic Queen Anne Victorian in San Francisco but she has some resident ghosts sabotaging the work and a cranky neighbor complaining about the noise.  The couple who owns the house insists on living there in the midst of the massive refurbishing. The wife is from Russia and is petrified of the ghosts, she thinks perhaps stopping work would let the ghosts rest. 

Melanie tries to research the past of the house but the records at city hall are missing.  Something went on in that house and from what she has seen, it was not pretty.  Then the cranky neighbor, Emile Blunt, is murdered.  Melanie thinks his death is connected to the home she is renovating.  Then just to throw some more on her plate, an old flame is consulting on how to make the home more environmentally friendly, his new green gig since he left code enforcement.

Melanie shines in this addition to the series and I like her more and more. She has a lot of compassion and seems to have a lot of responsibility even though she keeps dreaming of hiding away in Paris.  I like that she isn't a super thin perfectly dressed woman.  Rather, she has a few extra pounds and wears outlandish clothes all with her construction steel-toed-boots (except when she slips her coveralls on to get serious on the job site.)   The romantic interest is looking better in this book as well.  I was non-commital about him in the first, but in this book he is shaping up to have some potential. 

I really like Melanie's dad and disabled friend who are a "hoot."  I want to see them developed more and perhaps even get involved in investigating.  I could see them become investigative junkies easily.  

This is a great ghost book. The mystery is interesting, for it seems there was no clear reason to kill the neighbor, except he has a connection to the house and its previous owner.  Melanie is even threatened by a very live person to butt-out so her theory that the ghosts were somehow responsible is likely wrong.  Equally a mystery is the ghosts in the house, why women especially infuriate the ghosts, and why the attic is particularly bad.  This book provides some good spooky ghostly shapes and strange occurances with danger around every corner.  The family history of the ghosts is revealed eventually and the confrontation with the killer works well. 

The wrap up provides some clues to the next book and I already can't wait.  This is a strong second entry that is developing the characters and laying a solid foundation for a strong series.  If you enjoy some spooky with your cozy this will delight you and have you anxious for more.  

Here is a special report on high-tech Halloween Haunted Houses to help get you into the spirit of the season.

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Portrait of an Artist said...

I love Juliet Blackwell books...nice post!

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