Dead Bolt
Juliet Blackwell


ISBN-10:
0451235304
ISBN-13: 978-0451235305
Publisher: Penguin Group
Line: Signet
Release Date: Dec 6, 2011
Pages: 304
Retail Price: 7.99




Genre: Mystery
Rating:

Turner Construction's latest restoration project is a historic Queen Anne Victorian in San Francisco. This time general contractor Mel Turner has to work around the owners who insist on sticking around- along with some ghosts that insist in their own way that the work stops...

The ghosts aren't the only ones standing in the way of the renovations. A crotchety neighbor, Emile Blunt, secretly wants this house, and could be behind some of the disturbances. But when Emile is found dead, it's Mel who appears guilty. Now she must restore the building-and her reputation-before it's too late.


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Review

For fans of:  E.J. Copperman and Victoria Laurie

General contractor Melanie “Mel” Turner has a way with old houses; it’s almost like they speak to her and tell her how to restore them to their former glory.  Unfortunately for Mel, however, in the case of her most recent project, Cheshire House, it’s not just the house that’s doing the talking – the house’s long-dead former residents have something to say, as well.  And that something isn’t a friendly hello.

Equipment turns itself on.  Materials disappear and reappear at random.  Disembodied whispers echo through the house.  Are the ghosts expressing their displeasure at the renovation, or is something else going on?  Who pushed Mel’s construction foreman off his ladder?  And is the murder of the old man across the street somehow connected? The otherworldly activity is seriously freaking out the lady of the house and the construction just seems to be making things worse, but her husband doesn’t believe in the supernatural and would sooner stop the remodel than move his family out of their home.  Left with no other alternative, Mel must unravel the mysteries surrounding Cheshire House before her clients shut down the project for good – and before the ghosts who live there can claim another victim.

There’s not much I like better than a good paranormal mystery, and I’m happy to report that Dead Bolt by Juliet Blackwell is a damn good paranormal mystery.  The setup is smart, the plot is intriguing, and the sense of atmosphere is strong.  The mystery is layered, and is as much about the identity of the spirits who are haunting the house and their reason for doing so as it is about who killed the grumpy old taxidermist who lives next door.  And when you add to all of that a distinctive narrative voice, snappy dialogue, and prose that is both lush and intelligent, you have a book that will suck you in on page one and will pain you to put down.

Mel makes for a fabulous main character; independent, intelligent, compassionate, and driven, it’s a pleasure to spend a book in her company.  Blackwell’s supporting cast is marvelous, too; from Mel’s ex-stepson Caleb to her nutty best friend Luz to her recently widowed father Bill to hunky fellow contractor Graham, the personalities who populate Dead Bolt are realistic and well-drawn, and their relationships with Mel lend depth and texture to an already compelling tale.

This is the first of Blackwell’s Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries that I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last.  Get thee to a bookstore, and quickly; Dead Bolt is one book you don’t want to miss.

Reviewed by Kat


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