4 star

Crowned and Moldering

A Fixer-Upper Mystery #3

By Kate Carlisle

ISBN# 9780451469212

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele

Synopsis:Crowned and Moldering

When Mac Sullivan—famous thriller writer and Shannon’s new beau—first moved to Lighthouse Cove, California, he bought the historic lighthouse mansion that the town is named after. Mac needs help cleaning up the place, and Shannon is more than happy to get her handywoman hands on the run-down Victorian.

But during demolition, a grisly discovery is made among the debris—the bones of a teenage girl who went missing fifteen years ago. Locals had always assumed Lily Brogan ran away from her difficult life, but it seems her troubles followed her to the grave. If Shannon has any chance of getting her renovation back on track, she’ll need to tackle the cold case. But with new suspects coming out of the woodwork every day, she’ll have to be careful to pry the right secrets and clues from the poor girl’s problematic past…(Goodreads)


Kate Carlisle once again pens a smart cozy with Crowned and Moldering, the action packed, entertaining third installment in the Fixer-Upper Mystery series.

Shannon Hammer has taken over her father’s building contractor business and has more work than she has time for.  She lives in a Northern California town, and she specializes in restoring Victorian homes to their original splendor.  She is excited to get to work on her new boyfriend’s newly acquired home that sits adjacent to the town’s namesake lighthouse.  On their initial walkthrough of the home, they take a moment to inspect the dumb waiter.  When it crashes down to the basement, almost taking Shannon with it, the group discovers more than they bargain for – skeletal remains.  Unfortunately, the remains belong to Lily, Shannon’s high school friend and her employee Sean’s sister.  Everyone assumed that Lily ran away from her abusive father and rough home life when she disappeared fifteen years ago, but Sean never gave up looking for her.  Shannon takes it upon herself to “help” the local police chief investigate this cold case.  Things hit even closer to home when nefarious Cliff Hogarth, Lily’s former boyfriend and Shannon’s current business rival, comes to a grisly end.

Crowned and Moldering has enough plot twists and potential suspects to keep the reader guessing for a good portion of the book.  I love it when I do not figure out whodunit right away.  The premise of a “cold case” makes the story fresh, and I enjoyed every minute unraveling the mystery surrounding Lily’s death and disappearance.  I felt so sorry for both Lily having her future snuffed out needlessly and for her brother Sean’s anguish.  Everyone it town seems to have been touched by Lily.  The present day mystery involving Cliff adds plenty of additional tension.  I just had to keep reading to find out what happened.  While trying not to give away too much about an important plot point, I do have to admit that the twist surrounding everyone’s favorite teacher creeped me out, and I wish Carlisle had gone a different route with this thread.  Aside from this minor quibble, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Shannon.

Shannon makes a fine protagonist.  She is intelligent and independent and never needlessly puts herself in harm’s way.  I really appreciate her pragmatic nature and that she never comes across as “too stupid to live”.  The supporting characters are equally well developed and are a likable bunch.  Even when they are meant to be unlovable, like Cliff and Mr. Dain the guidance counselor, they are still fun to read about.  Mac and Shannon make a good pair, and I hope than Ms. Carlisle steers clear of a love triangle between the two and the police chief Eric.  I missed Shannon’s father and uncle in this adventure and hope they are featured more in the future.  The town and the lovely painted ladies (Victorian homes) are like characters themselves, and I really would like to visit Lighthouse Cove some day.

Crowned and Moldering is a great read, and I recommend it to both cozy and other mystery readers alike.  It can easily be read as a standalone, but trust me, you will want to read the other books in the series, too.