Cozy Wednesday with Kate Carlisle – Author of A Wrench in the Works (Fixer-Upper Mystery) – #Review / #Giveaway @BerkleyMystery

I am keeping everyone in California devastated by the tragic wildfires in my thoughts and prayers.

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am pleased to welcome Kate Carlisle back to Escape With Dollycas! 

Distorted Reality by Kate Carlisle

Say Cheese!

There’s no such thing as reality TV.

Let me repeat that: There is no such thing as reality TV.

The camera, by its very nature, distorts reality. It starts when we’re very young when our parents tell us to smile for the camera. We manipulate our muscles obediently, even if the sparkle doesn’t quite reach our eyes. We “say cheese” to get our mouth into proper position.

Look back at the fauxtographs from your childhood, and you’ll see what I mean. There’s something both engaging and heartwarming about the genuine smile of a child. And something disturbing when it’s evident that the smile is forced.

Before becoming a writer, I worked for many years in TV production on so-called reality shows. Time and again, I witnessed a change come over the on-camera talent the moment that filming began. The changes were subtle sometimes, but there. Almost everyone instinctively stands a little bit straighter, tries to sound a bit more intelligent/less casual—and frequently less profane.

We clean up our language and clean up our acts because we’re aware of being watched. . . and judged.

I thought it would be really interesting to play with this concept in my latest Fixer-Upper Mystery, A Wrench in the Works. Contractor Shannon Hammer is known around Lighthouse Cove as an expert on home renovation—but her little sister Chloe’s skills are famous all across the nation. Chloe is one of the stars of Makeover Madness, a home renovation show. She and her crew have descended on Lighthouse Cove to film a few episodes.

And to stir up some trouble.

When you’re reading A Wrench in the Works, pay attention to how characters change when the cameras start rolling. No one acts like a murderer while the klieg lights are on. Behind-the-scenes is another story altogether.


Lights! Camera! Homicide! Contractor Shannon Hammer must sift through the suspects when a popular TV show comes to Lighthouse Cove and brings murder with it…

Shannon Hammer’s younger sister Chloe left Lighthouse Cove after high school to make it big in Hollywood. And she did it! Chloe is the co-host of a popular home repair show on the Home Builders Network. Now, after ten years, she has returned to their quaint, coastal hometown to film several shows featuring her sister Shannon, along with some special mini-segments on Victorian style and design.

But Shannon quickly realizes that things are not exactly blissful in TV land. Bree, the executive producer of the show, has a knack for stirring up sticky situations and when she’s found dead, Chloe and the entire crew are under suspicion. During the investigation, Shannon, her thriller-writer boyfriend Mac, and their crime-solving friends unearth the real reason Chloe left home. Is that ten-year-old secret connected to Bree’s death? And can Shannon track down the real killer before her beloved sister becomes the next victim?

Do you agree that most people behave differently when they know they’re on camera? Why or why not? Do you have any fun examples to support your position?


Thank you, Kate, for stopping by! 

Keep reading for my review of A Wrench In The Works. 

A Wrench in the Works (A Fixer-Upper Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Setting – California
Berkley (November 6, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 0399586482
ISBN-13: 978-0399586484
Kindle ASIN: B079R3XMKZ

The synopsis is included in the guest post above.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

The television cameras have arrived in Lighthouse Cove along with Shannon’s sister Chloe. She is the co-host of a home renovating show, Makeover Madness, and is thrilled to be taping back in her hometown. Shannon also gets in on the fun by making some guest appearances. The hammer comes down on all the fun though before they even start filming. Executive producer Bree is found dead in the house chosen for the big makeover and the whole crew including Chloe are now suspects. Even Shannon saw with her own eyes the way Bree always through a major wrench in the productions. But then a real estate agent from Lighthouse Cove is found dead, again at the makeover house and the suspect pool widens. What is really scary is that Chloe could be the next victim. Shannon, Mac, and their friends are nailing down every clue to keep her safe and catch the killer.

The author has created characters that are very likable and realistic. Both Shannon and Chloe grew up working construction with their dad and know their way around a job site and every tool in the box. Determined women but Chloe hasn’t been back to Lighthouse Cove since she left for Hollywood. We learn along with Shannon the secret that has kept Chloe away all these years. I really enjoyed this subplot woven throughout the mystery as we see so much evolve for Chloe.  Shannon is so proud of her sister and her accomplishments. Their strong bond is heartwarming. The relationship between Mac and Shannon is getting more comfortable too. He really is a great boyfriend. He understands Shannon and her need to jump into these murder mysteries and is happy to help her in any way he can. The supporting cast is captivating too and made me feel like I was visiting old friends.

The backdrop of Lighthouse Cove, oceanside and all the old Victorian homes is a perfect setting for this series. Big enough to handle all the dead bodies, small enough to allow our amateur sleuth to nose her way into the investigation. I truly enjoy all the descriptions of the homes. The makeover house had so much wrong with it, novices would think the only answer would be to tear it down, but in the hands of Shannon, Chloe, and their teams you know they are going to turn it into a real jewel.

The mystery is well plotted and written. All the drama brought by the television people along with the added drama of some current Lighthouse Cove residents flows together to bring a story that sets a very nimble pace. There is always something happening, a twist, a turn, a curve, that diverts attention or sends everything in another direction. It is impossible not to totally be pulled into this story. I did solve the mystery just a little bit before Shannon but the entire story was totally entertaining.

This story does read well on its own. I always recommend reading the series in order for maximum enjoyment. The movies are great too but could never replace these wonderful stories.

Picturesque setting, terrific characters, and a delightful mystery. A Perfect Escape for all cozy lovers.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent


Read more about Kate and the Fixer-Upper Mysteries at!

You can read my reviews of previous books in this series by clicking the links below.
A High End Finish
This Old Homicide
Crowned and Moldering
Deck the Hallways
Eaves of Destruction
Also by Kate Carlisle

Coming June 4, 2019


Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away. 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

38 thoughts on “Cozy Wednesday with Kate Carlisle – Author of A Wrench in the Works (Fixer-Upper Mystery) – #Review / #Giveaway @BerkleyMystery

  1. I think The Curse of Oak Island is probably the closest thing to reality TV. I’ve read what people have to agree to to be on the HGTV shows. But, I’m still an HGTV junkie!

    1. I love HGTV, too, Barbara. It’s one of the most-watched channels at our house. I don’t care if it’s real. In fact, I’ve watched some British real estate programs where the buyers decide not to buy any of the homes they saw on the show, and it’s a real letdown for me. I want that all-American happy ending! 😉

    1. I’m so glad you love the cover, Linda! I do, too. Want to see something really fun? Go to the Secret Room of my website (, and look for the 10 Hammers puzzles. I’ve hidden 10 hammers on the cover of A WRENCH IN THE WORKS.

  2. I do agree that people behave differently when they are on camera. I don’t have any examples to support this, though. This sounds like a great read – thanks for the chance to win!

  3. Agree with Kate when she says folks act differently in front of a camera. Hubby and I both love photography and it’s extremely hard to get what we call candid shots with natural expressions. Once they see a camera that little birdie starts squawking their Mom and Dad’s voice saying “smile for the camera”. You should see some of the photos we have taken and then the comments of them saying “I don’t look like that!” Thank goodness for telescopic lens where you don’t have to be up close to get that up close photo. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. It is disconcerting sometimes to see what we look like when we don’t realize the camera is on us! I’m sure you get much more candid shots from a distance. You were smart to invest in the telescopic lens.

  4. Kate’s comments about how someone’s demeanor can change when they are on camera reminded me of when we were young and my Dad tood Super 8 movies of just about every occasion. We would spoof and mime for the camera and have a lot of fun. Then he got a movie camera with sound, and we didn’t know how to act “normal” because we were so used to hamming it up for the silent movies. He’d train the camera on us and ask us a question, and we’d just freeze. It’s so funny looking at those early “sound movies.”

    1. Good point, Connie! For some people, the camera turns on their “instant ham.” (Kind of like Connie and her siblings from the previous comment when they were young.)

  5. I do think people act differently when they are being photographed or filmed. People want to look their best and feel like they have to stand taller, smile bigger, etc. Thanks for the chance to win!

  6. Thank you for such a wonderful review! I’m delighted that you loved the story. Right now, I’m chin-deep in revisions on my next book (THE BOOK SUPREMACY), and I really needed your enthusiastic words. Much appreciated! And thank you, too, for helping to spread the word about books you love. You’re terrific!

  7. I watch HgTV Joanna Gaines and chip also Nicole fixing up historical homes. Awesome cover. I have home movies their fun to watch when people are doing something it’s more natural.I am going to read this book for sure, I love the series!

    1. Thank you, Donamae. You want to hear something interesting? The Fixer Upper TV show was announced AFTER the first Fixer-Upper Mystery was written and up for preorder. But the TV show started before the book was actually published. So I’m sure people thought we named the books after the TV show, but I swear, it was a total coincidence!

  8. So excited for this book! Love this series! Both my girls, (both over 30+ can be arguing like all heck is breaking loose, but whip out a camera and no one seeing the photo would ever know they were anything but best!!

  9. I’m sure people do act differently when they are on reality TV, but I do really like some reality shows. House Hunters is one of my favorite realty shows.

  10. I truly have enjoyed each and everyone of your b that I’ve read already and cannot wait to read this one!

  11. I remember my dad taking movie film of my siblings and I walking. Younger brother kept hamming for the camera, most unlike him! Every time I saw the film I felt annoyed with him! So yes, he behaved differently on camera.

  12. I think that you can only act so differently from who you are as a person when the camera starts to roll and that true colors eventually show. It might be a skewed way to look at it but that has been my experience.

    Thank you for the giveaway and I can’t wait to read A Wrench in the Works. I only wish I was as talented as Shannon Hammer. LOL!

  13. I do not think most people can be honest before a camera. The temptation to become something your not is too strong to ignore. That is why I dont watch reality tv.

  14. Thanks for the chance to win this book. I love watching this series of books on the Hallmark channel.

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