Premeditated Mortar

Fixer-Upper Mystery #8

By Kate Carlisle


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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele


Contractor Shannon Hammer gets tangled up in murder at a spooky old asylum in the latest Fixer-Upper Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Kate Carlisle. . . .

Shannon Hammer is about to embark on one of the biggest projects of her career. Her best friend Jane Hennessey has purchased one wing of the Gables, formerly the old state insane asylum, located on a bucolic hillside two miles northeast of Lighthouse Cove. Jane plans to turn her section into a small luxury hotel complete with twenty ocean-view rooms, a spa, and a restaurant.

Shannon is raring to get started on the enormous project and is shocked when a group of unruly protesters shows up at the groundbreaking ceremony and wreaks havoc. She’s even more freaked-out when someone pushes her into a pit of bricks in a closed-off room of the asylum. Despite her close call, Shannon wants nothing more than to get back to work . . . until she finds a body not far from where she was pushed. Now Shannon is determined to get to the bottom of the goings-on at the Gables even if it kills her.


Premeditated Mortar, the eighth book in the Fixer-Upper mystery series, is an enjoyable entry in the series with an unsettling back story and wonderful characters.

This time around construction contractor Shannon is tasked with remodeling a building at the local Victorian-era asylum into a luxury hotel for her best friend Jane.  Jane wants to open the hotel to honor her mother who was once a patient of the facility.  The developer’s dedication ceremony is set to kick off the renovations, but a group of protesters disrupts the occasion.  Soon the asylum’s last doctor arrives bringing even more upheaval to the project.  When murder comes to call, Shannon and Mac do what they can to help police chief Eric solve the case.

The Fixer-Upper series is a favorite, and I love the characters and their relationships.  These relationships take center stage in this book, and I like them more than ever.  Shannon is a relatable, down-to-earth amateur sleuth who helps the police rather than going behind their backs.  It helps that the small-town community’s residents all know each other well, and, in Shannon’s case, the chief is almost family since he is dating Shannon’s sister.  Shannon’s beau Mac is a great match for her and makes a great sounding board and brainstorming partner.  Their relationship continues to evolve, and I look forward to spending more time with them.  The other recurring characters are all included here and are like visiting old friends. 

Author Carlisle does a good job with the characters specific to this mystery, giving them more than ample introduction before the murders occur.  That said this ample time is also my quibble with the story.  The first murder does not take place until more than two-thirds into the book.  I began to wonder if there would be a mystery to solve, and this distracted me more and more as the story went on.  Thus the mystery seemed somewhat underdeveloped and rushed.

Premeditated Mortar is a fun read, but read it for the characters not the mystery.  Even so, I look forward to Shannon’s next adventure.