Keeper of the CastleOccupation: Home Renovation Specialist and up-and-coming Ghostbuster

First things first: as soon as I get up (which is eeeaaaaarly, since I’m in construction), I make myself a really good cup of strong French Roast. Then I feed Dog, a perpetually hungry former stray lab mix who I kept meaning to find a home for…until he decided this home would do quite nicely, thank you very much, and that he didn’t care to leave. Meanwhile, I fight off increasingly strident offers of breakfast from my Dad, who believes my refusal to eat breakfast is some sort of unhealthy teenage rebellion (no use telling him that I haven’t been a teenager for a good couple of decades).

Then I check in with our office manager Stan Tomassi, at the home office of Turner Construction. Dad started Turner Construction long ago, and my sisters and I were quite literally raised on a series of building sites. So a couple of years ago, when I went through a difficult divorce, abandoned my PhD in anthropology, and my mom passed away suddenly, I found myself back home and running Turner Construction (“temporarily”) for my grief-stricken father. He never came back to work, and now I’m General Manager, whether I wanted the position or not.

I hit the road by 6:30, usually with Dog by my side (he used to be carsick, but we’ve been working on the problem so he can visit sites with me). As General, I’m in charge of several different sites in various states of repair (or disrepair): everything from exploratory meetings with clients, to signing contracts, to pushing papers through City Hall, to actual construction and historic renovation – which is the best part of my job. I also get to look through junk stores and antique shops for parts to restore old homes – what’s not fun about that?

Lately, I’m working on rebuilding a medieval monastery out of ancient stones brought over from a Scottish Isle. It seems Ellis Elrich, the mysterious, wealthy CEO of a motivational empire, wants to turn the complex of buildings into a state-of-the-art retreat center in beautiful Marin County.

Only trouble is…he may have accidentally imported a ghost (or two) along with the stones. So now, not only do I have to figure out how to drill and reinforce a stone building in earthquake-prone Northern California (lots of rebar) and how to update it with modern conveniences like plumbing and electricity and technology, but also how to make peace with a couple of extremely confused entities who don’t recognize where they are. International (and time) travel can be very disorienting….

The good (and bad?) news is that rather than commuting all the way from Oakland, Mr. Elrich has invited me to stay at his fabulous house, right up the hill from the building site. The house needs a little work, but it includes a pool and a sauna and a 24-hour snack bar chock-full of organic delicacies prepared by a famous French chef. And Dog is welcome, too – he especially likes loping around the big field between the house and the ruins.

If only the eerie sound of a ghost flute didn’t float up the hill every night, disturbing my sleep. And when a building inspector is killed and someone I care about is attacked, all bets are off. I’m going to figure out what’s going on in this ancient monastery, if it kills me.

Just another Day in the Life of Mel Turner, contractor and (sometimes) ghostbuster.

You can read more about Mel in Keeper of the Castle, the 5th book in the “Haunted Home Renovation” mystery series, published by Obsidian. The first book in the series is If Walls Could Talk.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 22 for the chance to win a copy of KEEPER OF THE CASTLE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchcraft Mystery series, featuring a powerful witch with a vintage clothes store in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. She also writes the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series, about a failed anthropologist who reluctantly takes over her father’s high-end construction company…and finds ghosts behind the walls. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series, in which an ex-art forger attempts to go straight as a faux finisher. She is currently working on a novel about a woman who takes over her uncle’s locksmith shop in Paris, entitled The Paris Key. A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France.

Visit her at, join her on Facebook (JulietBlackwellAuthor) and on Twitter @JulietBlackwell

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