Series: Fixer-Upper Mystery #8
Published by Berkley on December 1, 2020
Genres: Cozy Mystery
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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. . . .
I have not read any of the previous Fixer-Upper mysteries, but I have watched a couple of the Hallmark shows, so I kind of felt like I already knew the characters and town.
Shannon owns a construction company, and she’s been hired by a good friend to help renovate one wing of The Gables, a former institution. The entire property is being revitalized, and Rachel is overseeing the project. Rachel has convinced Shannon’s boyfriend, Mac, a famous writer, to become one of the investors. When Shannon and Mac do some exploring, they find a mysterious stranger running around the abandoned property. Later on, he shows up as part of a group of protestors against the project. Even later on, one of those protestors ends up dead, the body found by Shannon of course. How are the secrets of The Gables past threatening people now?
The Gables is an interesting location, and I enjoyed all the descriptions and scenes that took place there. We learned a lot about how the patients were treated, both good and bad. The Gables held bad memories for a lot of people.
Mac and Shannon’s relationship is a big part of the story. Shannon does a little too much thinking about whether she should have a “where is this relationship going” talk with him for my taste, but that’s a small quibble. I didn’t know many of the secondary characters, like Shannon’s sister, but they were introduced well and I felt like I got caught up on the relationships easily. They all seem nice and friendly and pared off. Does Shannon have any single friends?
There was a lot of lead up to the murder, maybe half the book. Then it seems like it was solved too quickly. It was well-plotted and the clues hold together well, but we don’t really get to know many of the suspects until the halfway point. All the drama seems packed into the second half, which for me made the book seem too short, a bit rushed.