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The Book of Old Houses (Home Repair Is Homicide Mysteries) by Sarah Graves
Review by Gayle Surrette
Bantam Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553588033
Date: 25 November 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Interview: Sarah Graves / Show Official Info /

When you buy an old house, you're not just buying a place to live or a place to make your home, you're also buying a hobby. There is always something going wrong and something that needs fixing. But when they went to fix the basement wall they'd found an old book. The book listed all the owners of Jake's house including her. But the book was very old, so Jake sent it to be authenticated since the ink looked like blood. Then the book dealer, Horace Robtham, ends up dead and Jake's book is missing. Coincidence? Jake and Horace's friend Dave DiMaio think not.

More Sarah Graves:
The Dead Cat Bounce
Triple Witch
Wicked Fix
Repair To Her Grave
Wreck The Halls
Unhinged
Mallets Aforethought
Tool & Die
Nail Biter
Trap Door

Dave DiMaio believes he knows exactly who killed Horace Robtham and he's out for revenge. But once he gets to Eastport, Maine and meets Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree and begins to ask questions, he's not so sure. As he searches for the killer on his own, Jake and her friend and investigating partner Ellie decide they also should be looking into what happened and why.

While the mystery is intriguing and has enough twists and turns to fill a book all on its own, there are some other problems. Jake, in a fit of bathroom fury, had demolished her one and only bathroom. She's also supposed to host an afternoon gathering for the ladies of Eastport to celebrate the contributions to the town of Merrie Fargeorge who had recently retired from teaching at the local school. That's without Bella, her cook, and her father having a spat that leaves tension running high whenever they're in the same room.

Graves manages to balance all these various threads and yet maintains enough tension on the main mystery to keep you turning the pages while filling you in on what's happening with the major characters that have become mainstays of the series. Eastport may be a small town but as Agatha Christie's Miss Marple proved so well that doesn't mean that crime doesn't occur, it just makes it harder to solve because you know, or think your know, all the players.

Beyond the mystery, you learn more about books, book-making, repairing houses, and get to visit a wonderful area and learn more of its history. Continuing series give a reader a chance to get to know the main characters and drop in for updates on their lives and share their adventures. The Home Repair is Homicide series delivers on all fronts.

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