Dead in the Doorway
By Diane Kelly
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
A HOUSE WITH GOOD BONES. . .
Whitney Whitaker has scored the perfect piece of real estate: a ramshackle white Colonial at the top of a hill with views of downtown Nashville. What more could a self-taught home-improvement maven and occasional house-flipper ask for? Ideally, the property of Whitney’s dreams would not have come with a dead body blocking the entrance to the foyer. But Whitney, always quick to take heavy-duty matters into her own hands, also happens to be a skilled amateur sleuth. So that helps.
AND SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET.
Who is this older woman—and how did her corpse end up at the bottom of the staircase of this locked, unoccupied house? That is what Whitney, along with the support of her wood-working cousin Buck, Detective Collin Flynn, and, of course, feline partner-in-crime Sawdust, intends to find out. Her friendly-neighbor investigation takes a sharp turn, however, when Whitney discovers that the house’s former owner was a gourmet baker whose secret recipe for peach pie was to die for—perhaps literally. Now it’s up to Whitney to learn the truth about what happened before she loses this killer real-estate deal . . . and the killer comes knocking at her door. (from Goodreads)
The first novel in this new series hooked me completely. This second cozy has been worth waiting for! I really like Whitney, Buck, and their friends; the primary characters are unique and three-dimensional. Sawdust is the perfect fluffy feline companion and protector. The setting is in Nashville, primarily in friendly neighborhoods instead of the hustle and bustle of the city. The mystery is mentally stimulating and worth the read.
Whitney Whitaker is the modern active woman, working three jobs and enjoying each one. Her primary job is for Home and Hearth as a property manager. She does anything from collect rent to evicting those who haven’t paid to making repairs to the various rental properties. Whitney does part time carpentry work for her uncle, Roger, when time allows, as do her cousins Buck and Owen. She and Buck started a new house flipping business last year. After completing the first home remodel, Whitney and two of her friends moved in. With a cash loan from Home & Hearth, Whitney purchased a charming split-level home desperately in need of repairs.
Buck and Whitney walked through the home and took photos of where they plan to do work. The next morning, Whitney went over to begin packing up the stuff left behind of the previous owner’s, but the front door was blocked by something. She entered another way, then went to see what was blocking the door. It was actually a who. An elderly woman was lying inside the door, her body bent as if having fallen down the second-floor stairs. The woman was clearly dead. At first it seems like an accident, until the autopsy was performed and found it to be murder.
The dead woman was the next-door neighbor, Nelda. Her husband and daughter don’t appear to be grieving, neither do the neighbors, who had nothing good to say about her. Why Nelda was in the home of her late neighbor – who died of natural causes – is anyone’s guess, much less how she got into the home. Who would have even known she was there? This murder must be solved quickly. Not only are there elderly ladies living alone nearby, but when a murder is committed in a home, the value drops like a rock, especially if the killer is not found.
Whitney and Detective Collin Flynn met when Sawdust found a body buried at the first house she and Buck remodeled. To help clear herself of suspicion, Whitney more than helped find out who the culprit was. Much to her surprise, Detective Flynn share Nelda’s real cause of death and asked Whitney to pay attention to what goes on in the neighborhood and let him know what she learns. Joining the ladies’ poker game when invited was just the beginning and forged new friendships. The more time Flynn and Whitney talked about the murder, the more she hoped another kind of friendship was being forged.
Each of the characters is defined for their respective roles. I enjoyed learning more about Whitney and seeing a slight shift of focus between her and Collin Flynn. Whitney and Sawdust are, paws down, my favorites! Most of the chapters are written from Whitney’s point of view, and a few from Sawdust’s. True to catsonality, I could see how his mew-sings echo that of felines everywhere. Colette is the perfect best friend to Whitney, and it was delightful to see how they could see their friendship as it could be in the future, when they would be seniors as the close friends in the neighborhood.
The twists and turns move the plot quickly. As with the first in series, this one invited me in on the first page and held my attention throughout. There were several suspects, including family members of the murdered woman and of the lady who used to live in the flip house. There is laugh out loud humor and edge-of-the-seat suspense. I enjoyed every bit of the mystery and overall novel! Sawdust adds to the appeal of the novel, and it brings back memories of years spent in construction admin. I had an idea who the culprit was but not why. I couldn’t believe one person would kill another for that reason! All loose ends are tied up; I was very satisfied with the conclusion and highly recommend this cozy mystery and series. I’m looking forward to reading about the next property Whitney and Buck will purchase to flip!