Tuesday, March 19, 2019

If Walls Could Talk (A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery #1)

Author:  Juliet Blackwell
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; [Audio CD]; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780451231819; [9781452615622]
Obsidian Mystery
326 Pages
$7.99; [$22.48]; $2.99 Amazon
December 7, 2010


Since she took over her father's construction business, Melanie Turner has made quite a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area.  But now her reputation may be on the line.

At her newest renovation project, a run-down Pacific Heights mansion, Mel is visited by the ghost of a colleague who recently met a bad end with power tools.  Mel hopes that by tracking down the killer, she can rid herself of the ghostly presence of the murdered man.

Mel's only clue is an odd box she discovers inside a wall at the job site.  If she can make sense of its mysterious contents, she might be able to nail a killer - before she becomes the next construction casualty...


Mel Turner is a 38-year-old divorcee who has taken over her father's contracting business.  She's decided to help a friend renovate an old Victorian home, showing up the night after he has a wild party.  While there, another man she dislikes intensely shows up, severely injured.  Kenneth has been attacked, and while Mel tries to keep him alive, it's apparent he didn't make it.  Yet later on that same day she sees him, and eventually figures out he's a ghost.

When her friend Matt is suspected of killing Kenneth, she decides to find out who murdered the man, once she reconciles herself with the ability of being able to see ghosts.  But it seems the killer is not only still on the loose, they're on the lookout for something special, and if Mel gets in the way, she might have to go, too...

This is the first in the series and I liked the premise so wanted to read it.  Unfortunately, it couldn't hold up right from the beginning.  We're supposed to believe that Mel is a contractor who, because she wears work boots, shows up to work in clothing that looks as if she's going to a nightclub.  Right.  Because every woman who works on job sites dresses like that.  Because people will see you as a professional and want to hire you if you look terrific.  Sorry, but I've worked on job sites and I not only wouldn't take a person seriously who dressed like that, I'd wonder which one of the workers she spent the night with after he picked her up in a bar.  I certainly wouldn't want to hire her.  Face it:  Would you hire an attorney if you showed up to their office and they were wearing a low cut sparkly dress?  You'd think they spent the night out on the town and just got to work...and probably go to another attorney.  Attire does count in professional jobs.  So strike one.

Strike two: the murder of Kenneth is particularly gruesome and I don't think it needed to be so.  (A saw?)  I couldn't get the picture out of my mind and since I read this late at night, it probably wasn't a good idea to do so.  I'm strong on mental visuals, so it stuck with me - unfortunately - and I have no desire to read future books if this was the way it was depicted.  If I'm reading a thriller, I have no problem with it, since I pretty much expect it, but not in what is termed a 'cozy'.  Some things can still get the point across without reading about a 'bloody stump'.

Strike three:  If she and her ex were both anthropologists, why was he the one with the cushy job?  Why couldn't both of them have great jobs?  Is the author telling us that women are less than men when it comes to getting positions at universities?  She also states how she wanted to be a martyr in a Paris apartment.  News flash: she is; just not in Paris.  She's a martyr through the entire book.  Gee, Mel, many women have marriages that fail but they don't go through life lamenting what they could have had.

After these things, I completely lost interest in the book.  Mel grated on me; she wanted a different life but took over her father's business out of obligation?  All she had to do was sit her father down and tell him she didn't want to be a contractor, and he could either go back to work or close the business.  He wasn't much better than her, just giving up everything in his life and turning it over to his daughter instead of pulling himself together.  For a man who's an ex-marine, he sure didn't have any discipline regarding his business, not seeing that other people were dependent on him. 

Anyway, I'm pretty much done with this series, and since this is the first book, that says a lot.


Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2756192774

More on Juliet Blackwell's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/b/juliet-blackwell/

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