Kate Carlisle is the author of A High-End Finish (Fixer-Upper Mystery 1), which debuted at #9 on the New York Times bestsellers list. Fixer-Upper Mystery 2 is This Old Homicide, available January 27 in paperback and ebook wherever books are sold.
Lighthouse Cove, California is not made for speeding, a fact I usually appreciate. But today I’m running late, so I can’t see the charm of sleepy traffic.
Oh, sorry. Hi. I’m Shannon Hammer. I run Hammer Construction. I specialize in restoring Victorians. This morning, when I spotted an original tile behind a depressing 1940s remodel, I lost a few minutes getting doe-eyed. Hence, running late.
I zip (sedately) to my house. Emily asked me to meet the gang at her tea shop, and it sounded important. After everything she did for me, I owe her. A few months ago, a man was murdered with one of my tools in a house I was working on. The night before he died, we’d had a pretty public argument, so you can see why suspicion fell on me. But my friends rallied. Emily has the tea shop, Lizzie and her husband have a stationery store, Marigold owns a little quilt shop, and Jane is the proud owner of what will soon be the best inn in Lighthouse Cove. They all put work aside to help me find the killer. Those are friends! They’ve always said they’d do anything for me, and they certainly proved it.
My dog Robbie, a Westie, is trying to get to me through the fence. I hate to disappoint him, but—
“Sorry, bud,” I say as I head on foot toward the sidewalk.
“What’s that?” My irascible neighbor Jesse says as I pass his yard.
“I was talking to my dog.”
A lifelong scuba diver, Jesse spent so much of his life in saltwater that it made him crusty. He’s also my friend Jane’s uncle, and I’ve always found him to be delightful. I hadn’t seen him around much lately. Very unusual. I don’t have time for one of his stories now, though, so I don’t ask where he’s been, I just keep walking.
I hope I don’t regret that later. . .
A sneak peek at This Old Homicide:
“Jesse?” I called again, more urgently this time. I headed for the small den off the kitchen where he liked to watch television. And that was where I found him. He was sound asleep on the couch with one arm dangling over the edge.
“Jesse!” I hurried across the room, so filled with relief that I forgot about the mess and everything else. “Thank goodness you’re here. Don’t be mad that I came into your house, but I was worried.”
There was no reaction. The man could sleep like the dead, I thought. The way he’d torn his home apart, I had to wonder if he was simply exhausted. Old people could do some weird things sometimes. I recalled my grandmother going off on all sorts of oddball tangents before she died, once tearing up a scrapbook filled with old photographs, and another time bingeing on jars of jalapeño pickles.
I studied Jesse’s face and wondered if maybe he was sick after all, because he looked pale, almost gray.
“Jesse?” I knelt down beside the couch and touched his forehead to make sure he wasn’t feverish.
On the contrary, his skin was cool. And no wonder, since the poor guy was wearing a pair of tidy white cotton boxer shorts and nothing else.
“Come on, Jesse, wake up.” I reached for the afghan draped over the back of the couch and covered him up to give him a little dignity. I lifted his arm onto the couch and tucked the edges of the blanket under him to warm him up.
“Jesse,” I said softly, shaking his shoulder lightly. “Can I get you some soup or something?”
His arm slid off the couch again. And I suddenly realized why.
You can read more about Shannon in This Old Homicide, the second book in the “Fixer-Upper” mystery series, published by Obsidian.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on February 2 for the chance to win a copy of THIS OLD HOMICIDE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
About the author
New York Times bestselling author Kate Carlisle is a native Californian who worked in television production for many years before turning to writing. Kate’s “Bibliophile Mystery” series features bookbinder protagonist Brooklyn Wainwright, whose rare book restoration skills invariably uncover old secrets, treachery and murder. Find excerpts, contests, book news, and more at Author Kate Carlisle and Facebook.