Wicked Fix by Sarah Graves

(Home Repair is Homicide #3)

Do-it-yourself killer fixes small-town thug...

For ex-Wall Streeter Jacobia Tiptree and her teenaged son, Sam, September promises tranquil days winter-proofing their rambling handyman's special of a home in Eastport, Maine. But there's nothing idyllic about this Down East autumn. For starters, the return of truly vicious native son Reuben Tate stirs up the town. And when somebody slits Reuben's throat and hangs his corpse on the cemetery gate, the police trace a bloodied scalpel to surgeon Victor Tiptreeâ Jacobia's former husband. Yet Jake knows her troublesome, trouble-prone ex is capable of just about anything except murder. Proving that, though, is another matter.

Eastport is packed with tourists and former residents for the annual Salmon Festival and Jake soon realizes any Eastporter, past or present, has motive for Tate's murder. To nail the real killer, Jake and her best friend, Ellie White, must probe a past as rotten as crumbling clapboard, while a secret hatred builds toward a series of murders even more brutal than Reuben Tate himself....

I'm not sure why I couldn't get into this one more - the mystery was intricate enough, the suspects led the main on a merry enough chase through the town interviewing....but there seemed to some sense of lack of urgency. I didn't want the innocent guy to stay in jail and be sentenced to prison, but beyond that I couldn't focus on emotions other than the logics of it. It doesn't help that there isn't any humor, relationship spark, and that most of the characters get along so well.

It's an already established series, so that didn't help. All existing relationships already existed. I wasn't there through the wooing and excitement of the first meetings of friends, neighbors, boyfriends. The characters are decent, although the writing style takes a distant tone and approach so that it's difficult to engage as much on a feel level. It's kind of like watching a semi-dry movie where a person goes through the motions to solve a crime.

As a cozy, the theme is fixer-up kind of stuff, but the book doesn't get into too many technically details of that thankfully. There is little on decoration or design really - and the bonds that exist are realistic feeling, but again just didn't captivate me.

Overall it's not a bad mystery, but not one I had a lot of chemistry with. I figured out the culprit early on, not because of clues, but just a strange instinctual feeling.

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