Title/Author: Death at a Fixer-Upper: A Home Sweet Home Mystery / Sarah Hobart
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Date of publish: May 2016
In Sarah T. Hobart’s wickedly funny and fast-paced Home Sweet Home mystery series, small-town real estate agent Sam Turner discovers it’s bad for business when her clients keep dropping dead.
Newly armed with her real estate license, Sam Turner loves Arlinda, her quirky seaside hometown in Northern California. But life by the beach isn’t exactly a breeze: She and her teenage son, Max, are being evicted from their apartment, her long absent ex-husband unexpectedly resurfaces, and her possibly romantic relationship with sexy Chief of Police Bernie Aguilar is, well . . . complicated. All Sam wants is a quick and easy sale. What she gets instead is a killer headache—or three.
Sam’s trying to drum up interest in 13 Aster Lane, a rambling Victorian fixer-upper that’s more than a little neglected—and possibly haunted—so when a trio of offers arrive out of the blue, she can’t help thinking it’s too good to be true. But after a new client drops dead on the property, she fears she’s lost more than a commission. Before Sam’s out of house and home, she must unmask a killer targeting her clients, or the only property she’ll be moving will be plots—at the local cemetery.
Death at a Fixer-Upper is a sassy and sarcastic page turner that keeps you guessing until the end…
I would have to say that Sarah Hobart has a way with words. The opening page set the mood and pace of the story and it just ran from there.
Sam Turner is a wonderful breath of fresh air in the world of Cozy mystery. She isn’t a frustrated arm chair detective with a law enforcement beau, she is just a working single mom, trying to do her job and maybe get a little romance going on the side, albeit with a guy in law enforcement. I love the way the mystery unravels and how all the pieces tie together. This wasn’t so much a Whodunit, but rather more a well crafted mystery set against the history of the house and its owners.
Arlinder seems to be a classic small town with its requisite small town character and small town under-currents like the competition between two garrulous old men vying against each other in the town’s annual race, the rival listing agent with an ax to grind or the sweet homeless man who is more than he seems. In this town of strong personalities, there is certainly no shortage of suspects or dead ends to the investigation.
I do have some reservations about her relationship with Bernie, the emerging complications and past history make me not so quick to enjoy the budding romance. The book overall was an enjoyable single sitting read.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Back in the hall, I paused to examine a doorframe that didn’t appear to be original to the house, separating the front from the back.
“Sam!” Biddie’s voice rang in my ears like tinnitus. I hurried after her and found her tapping her foot at the bottom of a flight of stairs. It was wide, even majestic, with an ornately carved mahogany rail. I barely got an impression of the two big rooms at the front of the house— darkly varnished wainscoting, heavy Victorian furniture shrouded in cotton sheets, tall windows blocked by moth-eaten velvet that let in only a glimmer of daylight— before she started
The air seemed to grow heavier as we ascended. We reached a small landing where the staircase took a ninety-degree turn, then climbed the last ten steps and arrived in another narrow hallway. The walls were covered in sprigged floral paper, curled at the seams and dotted with stains around the baseboards. A tattered strip of Oriental carpeting sent up little clouds of dust and spores with every step we took. The thick air caught at my throat and I coughed.“This is terrible. Six hundred grand for a house that’s falling down? What a waste.”
“Nonsense. Just needs a lick o’ paint.”
“You really really believe that?”
“My clients will.” She opened a door and we looked in silence at a bedroom coated in dust. There were two more rooms just like it, devoid of life. The hall ended at another boarded-up window and another flight of stairs, this one leading up to the tower. Yellow tape stretched across the newel posts to block access. Water had pummeled the stairs, warping the treads and pulling at the risers as if intent on taking them apart piece by piece. The ruined woodwork and its accompanying smell of decay swept over me in a wave that almost knocked me off balance. Like I said, I’m not a believer in things I can’t see. But there was something dark, almost menacing, in the air, an oppressiveness that was nearly unbearable.
“The old man,” I said abruptly. “He died from natural causes, right?” Biddie stared at me.
“I mean, he wasn’t, uh, murdered or anything, was he?”
“Saints preserve us,” she crowed. “Lassie’s got the second sight.” She threw back her head and enjoyed some Biddie-style mirth, shoulders twitching, making a noise in her throat that was not unlike a cat bringing up a hair ball.
“He died of a heart attack,” she said when she’d finished. “He’d had a dicky heart for years, which is why the second story was shut off. Doctor forbade him the stairs.” Her bosom heaved with another paroxysm of amusement. I reddened. What on earth had prompted me to blurt out something so foolish?
“Let’s get out of here,” she said.
I was only too glad to comply. We’d started down the stairs and were a few steps shy of the middle landing when Biddie stopped dead in her tracks so abruptly that I almost plowed into her. She stood stock-still, frozen in place.
Hobart, Sarah T.. Death at a Fixer-Upper: A Home Sweet Home Mystery (Kindle Locations 218-244). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Sarah Hobart is a real estate agent and former newspaper reporter in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and two children in a majestic fixer-upper overlooking State Highway 101.
For more about the author, see Lian Asks: 5 Questions with Sarah Hobart
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