My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Last month, I finished reading all the cozies I had on my bookshelf or Kindle. I had stopped buying them a while ago because it was getting out of control. Once I caught up, I decided I could start one new series a month… this month, it was Kate Carlisle’s Fixer-Upper Mysteries, and the first book is A High-End Finish. I’d previously heard good things about Carlisle through reviews or recommendations, and it has been a great suggestion. I enjoyed a lot about the book, saw a few things I hope settle in as the series continues, and look forward to the various plots that could come from a contractor being an amateur sleuth.
In this first book, Shannon goes on a bad date. He’s creepy, handsy, and basically crosses that border of anything considered acceptable. Luckily she gets a good kick to his shins to stop the jerk (in front of a crowd no less!), but unfortunately for her, he winds up dead a few days later. The new detective in town immediately thinks she’s guilty, but quickly decides he might’ve made a mistake. As she begins to ask questions around town, Shannon learns other women also experienced the same behavior from the awful man. Which one of them killed him? It doesn’t stop there, though, as another body turns up. And this one is a bigger connection to Shannon, someone she hated almost as much. Is there a killer trying to make her look guilty, or a Casanova from afar trying to make her happy in a psychotic sort of way? Shannon tries to stay out of the case, but she’s drawn back in each time something bad happens. In the end, she sees the killer trying to murder someone else and intervenes (what a good citizen) yet it puts her suddenly in the line of fire.
Carlisle’s writing style is great. It flows well, I like the balance of humor and seriousness, and there is witty dialog and wonderful narrative. Shannon’s relationships are developing nicely, and she has a lot of potential to be a great sleuth. I am thrilled to see a female contractor represented with both supportive and non-supportive men around her; it provides a good balance of different views. I love the decor and architecture being described, I felt like I was in southern California, San Francisco, or the 1920s seaside environments. Kudos to the author for all these wonderful things in a series I expect to love.
I was a little off-put by some of the interactions: some in a good way, some in a confused way. She has an instant connection with Mac (a famous writer), but he comes across too flirty and then too standoffish. I understand writers can be like that (no, not me!), but there wasn’t any explanation from him to her on why he acted so cold in one scene. Another instance was where the sheriff went from thinking she was awful to ‘let’s be friends’ without a smoother transition. In a single mystery with multiple characters and stages to be set, I understand this isn’t always the easiest, but I hope there’s a few less completely-180-degree turns happening. Some are fun to watch with forthcoming clarity, but it can’t become a common theme.
That said, it was minor, and I’m just being a tad picky since I’m on my 725th review at this point and now trying to share all the positives with one or two constructive ideas just in case readers want to know the potential areas of a book they might wonder about. But definitely a high recommendation read from me… I’ll be starting number two later this month.
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.