Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle

A High-End Finish
AuthorKate Carlisle
Series:  A Fixer-Upper Mystery 1
Publisher: Signet, November 4, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
List Price: $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780451469199 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher


In the seaside town of Lighthouse Cove in northern California, everyone knows the best man for the job is actually a woman—contractor Shannon Hammer. But while Shannon can do wonders with a power drill and a little elbow grease, she’s about to discover that some problems aren’t so easily fixed....

Shannon’s home-renovation and repair business is booming, but her love life needs work. On a blind date with real estate agent Jerry Saxton, she has to whip out a pair of pliers to keep Jerry from getting too hands on. Shannon is happy to put her rotten date behind her, but when Jerry’s found dead in a run-down Victorian home that she’s been hired to restore, the town’s attractive new police chief suspects that her threats may have laid the foundation for murder.

Determined to clear her name, Shannon conducts her own investigation—with the help of her four best friends, her eccentric father, a nosy neighbor or two, and a handsome crime writer who’s just moved to town. But as they get closer to prying out the murderer’s identity, Shannon is viciously attacked. Now she’ll have to nail down the truth—or end up in permanent foreclosure....

Jennifer's Review

This novel is the first in the new Fixer Upper Mystery series that follows home-renovator Shannon Hammer. Shannon runs a contracting business in the town she grew up in, Lighthouse Cove, a small seaside town in Northern California. Shannon’s troubles start when she goes on a disastrous blind date with real estate agent Jerry Saxton that results in her threatening to kill him when he gets too aggressive. This sets off a chain of events starting with Shannon discovering the lecherous Jerry’s murdered body in one of the houses she is renovating and progressing to Shannon fighting for her life.

Shannon is a fabulous lead character. She is strong and practical but has the soul of an artist. The real gems of this novel are the set of friends and family Shannon surrounds herself with along with two suitably hunky love interests. The friends and family are numerous, but easily kept track of. The best of the lot are Shannon’s best friends Lizzie, a local shop owner and the mother of two, and Jane, who is poised to open the town’s newest inn. Lizzie is determined that all her friends, including Shannon, find true love as she has, thus the ill-fated blind date at the beginning of the story. Jane has been Shannon’s best friend since childhood and is extremely loyal and protective of her. The aforementioned hunks are police chief Eric Jensen, who resembles a golden Norse God (think Chris Hemsworth in Thor) and Mac Sullivan, a famous crime writer reminiscent of James Bond. Both men are so dreamy it is kind of hard to decide which one Shannon should go for, but I found myself rooting for Eric. Along with looking for a murderer and trying to run her business all while trying to stay alive, Shannon is plagued by her nemesis from high school, Whitney, who happens to be married to her ex-boyfriend, and her bestie Jennifer, both of whom epitomize the stereotypical mean-girl.

This story is well paced, having just the right amount of downtime between the action scenes; even the quieter passages keep the reader’s interest with snappy dialogue. All of the characters are either completely lovable or relatable or even more fun to hate. This series is going on my must read list and I can’t wait for the next installment so I can see who Shannon ends up with. I’m still rooting for Eric.


This Old Homicide
A Fixer-Upper Mystery 2
Signet, January 27, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
(Clicking on the image will take you to the publisher's page)

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Bibliophile Mysteries and A High-End Finish comes the second Fixer-Upper Mystery...

Contractor and part-time sleuth Shannon Hammer specializes in improving the quirks and flaws of the Victorian homes in Lighthouse Cove, California. The quirks and flaws of their residents are another story....

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and while Shannon is delighted to be friends with not one but two handsome men, not everyone in town is feeling the love. After her elderly neighbor Jesse Hennessey fails to make his daily appearance at the local diner, Shannon swings by his place to check on him. Not only does she find Jesse dead—of an apparent heart attack—but she also realizes that his home has been ransacked.

Someone suggests that a thief was searching for a priceless necklace Jesse claimed to have retrieved from a capsized sailing ship, but Shannon doesn’t believe it. Everyone knows Jesse had a penchant for constructing tall tales—like the one about him having a hot new girlfriend. But his death is soon ruled a homicide, and shady suspects begin popping out of the woodwork. When another victim turns up dead, Shannon is convinced she must find the killer before someone else gets nailed....


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