4 star rating
A High-End Finish
A Fixer Upper Mystery #1
By Kate Carlisle
Author’s Website:  http://www.katecarlisle.com

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele


In the seaside town of Lighthouse Cove in Northern California, everyone knows the best man for the job is actually a woman—contractor Shannon Hammer. But while Shannon can do wonders with a power drill and a little elbow grease, she’s about to discover that some problems aren’t so easily fixed….

Shannon’s home-renovation and repair business is booming, but her love life needs work. On a blind date with real estate agent Jerry Saxton, she has to whip out a pair of pliers to keep Jerry from getting too hands on. Shannon is happy to put her rotten date behind her, but when Jerry’s found dead in a run-down Victorian home that she’s been hired to restore, the town’s attractive new police chief suspects that her threats may have laid the foundation for murder.

Determined to clear her name, Shannon conducts her own investigation—with the help of her four best friends, her eccentric father, a nosy neighbor or two, and a handsome crime writer who’s just moved to town. But as they get closer to prying out the murderer’s identity, Shannon is viciously attacked. Now she’ll have to nail down the truth—or end up in permanent foreclosure.…(Goodreads)


Shannon Hammer has taken over her father’s contractor and renovation business in her small California home town.  She definitely considers herself a townie but is plagued by both the greatness and trials of living in a small community where everyone knows you and your business.  She is happy with her family, pets, garden, and close friends but is also a bit lonely where romance is concerned.  Her friend Lizzie sets her up on a blind date with a successful local real estate agent Jerry.  The evening goes well until he expresses his expectation that she trade services for the dinner he just bought.  She is able to fend him off with a swift kick but is so angry that she threatens to kill him if he ever tries to manhandle her again, loudly enough for all of the onlookers on the pier to hear.  Embarrassed that she had an audience, she decides to lie low for a couple of days but is forced to leave the house when she receives a call that there may be an emergency at one of her job sites.  She finds more than a leaking sump pump in the basement when she literally trips over Jerry’s body.  Already the prime suspect due to her altercation during their date, things get even worse when her pink wrench is determined to be the murder weapon.

Intent on finding the real culprit and get the new police chief off her back, Shannon turns to her friends and town connections to clear her name.  She finds that Jerry had made some shady business dealings and was quite the ladies man, both cheating and abusive, and many women (and their significant others and families) have plenty of reason to want Jerry dead.  When Shannon herself is put in danger by sabotage and later attacked, she and the chief begin to wonder if the murderer is trying to frame Shannon or, worse yet, is committing the crimes to impress her.  In addition to Jerry’s murder, Shannon’s temporary tenant also dies, and former classmates are endangered.

Shannon is a strong female lead with realistic flaws, and her friends and family are fairly well developed.  There should be plenty of opportunity for the characters to grow and the reader to get to know these people.  The small town atmosphere is good, and typical of a cozy, but I was a little annoyed that just about everyone was connected to Shannon through high school associations.  It made it seem a little one dimensional.  I hope that future installments will branch out into the community more.  Ms. Carlisle does a good job of depicting an insular community that knows everything about everyone.  There are the beginnings of a love triangle (sigh) among Shannon, Chief Jenson, and the new-to-town crime writer Mac.  I hope it does not drag on and on.  Though not really interesting to me, there are plenty of home renovation tidbits sprinkled throughout the story.

I enjoyed this first book in the Fixer-Upper series and look forward to the next installment.  Recommended for fans of Kate Carlisle’s Bibliophile mysteries and fans of cozies in general.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*