Dead Bolt: A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery
by Juliet Blackwell
Review by Mel Jacob
Signet Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451235305
Date: 06 December 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This Haunted Home Renovation Mystery, Dead Bolt, is the second of the series featuring Mel Turner as a ghost buster. She is restoring a Queen Anne Victorian in Pacific Heights and encounters some malevolent ghosts who want no changes. They keep interfering with the work and almost kill Mel when she tries to stop them. The only solution is to find out why and then banish the ghosts. Then, a former tenant is murdered.
Mel has difficulty learning the history of the house and its inhabitants. Files on it have disappeared from the historical society's records. With patience, Mel tracks down the former owner, her daughter, and the boarders. Then, the present owner begins acting in strange ways. He found some old letters and the more he reads them, the worse he grows. His wife is afraid and wants to leave the house, but he insists the family stay during the renovations.
When Graham Donovan, a potential boyfriend, shows up with a new girlfriend, Mel goes into a funk. However, a ghost expert, Olivier Galopin, is ready to step in. He offers to cook Mel dinner, but she hesitates yet she needs his expertise.
The ghosts stem from a past tragedy and it takes all Mel's ingenuity to work out what happened and who the ghosts are. Old newspapers, tidbits from the former tenants, and eventually the letters provide the clues.
A birthday celebration for the owner's one-year-old son looms. The party planner is Graham's new girlfriend and she want to center the party on the renovations. In an effort to remove the ghost, Mel tries an exorcism, but fails. Then, when Graham kisses her in the attic, the ghost try to take them over.
Blackwell provides an exciting climax that will leave readers breathless and surprised at the identity of the murderer. This mystery is less humorous than If Walls Could Talk. A few of the same characters also appear in this mystery. Overall, the tone is darker reflecting the malevolent nature of the ghosts. The warm relations between Mel and her family provide some relief from gloom and doom.