Absence of Mallets (A Fixer-Upper Mystery)
9th in Series
Setting – California
Berkley (December 7, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 0593201337
ISBN-13 : 978-0593201336
Kindle ASIN : B08Y8BFNML
Contractor Shannon Hammer steels her nerve to pin down a killer in the latest Fixer-Upper Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Premeditated Mortar. . . .
Shannon could not be happier that her hunky thriller-writing boyfriend, Mac, has moved in, and it is a good thing they are living together because they are both busier than ever. Mac is hosting writing retreats at his now vacant lighthouse mansion, while Shannon and her crew build Homefront, a quaint Victorian village of tiny homes for veterans in need. Mac’s latest guests are proving to be a handful though, and Shannon has heard some grumbling from the luminaries of Lighthouse Cove about her latest passion project. But nothing can throw a wrench in their plans except a malicious murder.
When one of Shannon’s new friends is found brutally bludgeoned with a mallet near the lighthouse on Mac’s property, the couple hammers out a suspect list and searches for a motive. As they drill deeper for clues, more violence strikes and a new victim winds up in a coma. The pressure is on, and Shannon and Mac will have to move fast to find an unhinged killer dead set on demolishing anyone who gets in their way. . . .
Shannon and Mac are both super busy but now that they are living together they are assured of running into each other eventually. He is in the throes of writing a new book and trying to keep a handle on the latest group of authors staying at the lighthouse mansion for a two-week writing retreat. Sharon has a huge new project that is near and dear to both her and Mac. Shannon’s crew is building 50 tiny Victorian-style homes for needy veterans. The little village already has a community center addressing all kinds of needs for the veterans including classes both Shannon and Mac are teaching. Shannon’s sister is also back in town willing to help Shannon in any way she can. Sadly, Shannon is going to need her help for more than her building and decorating expertise. She is going to need her to help find the killer who bludgeoned her new tile artist and friend to death and left her lying on the beach just waiting for the tides to wash her out to sea. Shannon, Mac, and Chloe need to hammer out the details quickly because more violence takes place and someone else gets hurt. The mallets are the key, if they find those they know they will find the killer.
I really enjoy this series and there were so many great things in this story. Shannon and Mac are in a really good and comfortable place. Chloe is taking major steps in her career so she will be in town more as she and police chief Eric plan their wedding. The town is taking a huge step to help homeless veterans even though they are getting a little interference from a few residents. These core characters truly feel like old friends. I live a little vicariously through Shannon remembering the short time I worked in home construction. Being in an occupation dominated by men isn’t easy but Shannon is killing it and goes out of her way to help more women get into the field. Her class at the community center in this story really made me happy.
Of course, with the good comes the bad. Mac’s current writing group is so bad. Selfish, irresponsible, and creepy doesn’t really cover the group but it’s a start. Then we have the murder of a woman who seemed to be a wonderful human being and an attack on another with a huge heart. This cast of characters was so well written. They invoked all the emotions the author intended so easily. I had a hard time adjusting after the victim was revealed. We just met her and just started to see her artistry and she was gone. This was nicely played by the author. Readers and characters alike were invested in seeing her get justice.
That being said there really were a limited number of truly viable suspects. Being new in town she knew only a few people so I found it easy to hone in on the right individual after a few clues were revealed. What I really enjoyed was the way Eric, Mac, Shannon, and Chloe worked together. Eric has learned to trust Shannon’s instincts and that makes the story even better.
I really appreciated the message/theme of the story. The plight of homeless vets is heartbreaking and Lighthouse Cove has made them a priority building the village of Homefront. The community center is wonderful with classes, counselors, and even a cafe, plus there is room to offer more services. If only more communities in real life could follow in these footsteps.
While the mystery wasn’t as complex as other books in this series, Absence of Mallets is my favorite book so far. Murder and mayhem aside, it is a feel-good story. The perfect book to read after the holiday season. It warmed my heart seeing what good people can do and as I turned the last page I had a huge smile on my face.
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Also by Kate Carlisle
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.” Publisher is not offering giveaways due to COVID 19.