First Line: You know your job is tough when you find yourself escaping into a Port o' Potty for a minute alone.
While San Francisco contractor Mel Turner is in charge of a volunteer home renovation project, she can't keep her mind off the house next door-- the place the local kids call the Murder House.
Before the renovation job can be completed, volunteers find a body while cleaning out a shed. Since the property is now a crime scene, work must stop, which is a good thing for Mel because as the San Francisco Police Department's unofficial "ghost consultant," she has to help Inspector Annette Crawford with all the questions Crawford's beginning to have about that creepy house next-door.
Juliet Blackwell's Haunted Home Renovation series continues to make my enjoyment factor rise. Yes, there are paranormal aspects to the stories, but it's really kept to a minimum-- no ghostly gimmicks to ease the main character's way out of a tight spot in the plot. In Home for the Haunting, I learned a bit more about San Francisco area architecture and real estate, and I enjoyed the volunteer organization Neighbors Together's work to revitalize neighborhoods and make homes safer and more comfortable for their owners. It mirrors the grass roots efforts of many people throughout the country who believe in donating their time and skills.
One of the reasons why this series is such a winner is due to its excellent cast. Throughout these books, Mel has been at a sort of crossroads, and Home for the Haunting has her working through her relationship issues with the hunky Graham and with her sister Cookie. She also has some time to come to terms with what she really wants from life. The neighborhood kids are a wonderful addition to the cast, and I was almost in shock when the relationship between Mel and Annette Crawford appeared to thaw a bit.
Although I had my suspicions about characters that I should indeed have been wary of, I couldn't quite pinpoint everything they did and how they fit into the plot. Just what I like: a good, keep-you-guessing story.
If you're new to the series and wondering if you should start at the beginning, I think you could "test the waters" by reading this book. It will set you up well for both past and present and give you an idea if you want to go back and read the previous books. For background, plot, and characterization, I think you're really going to enjoy Juliet Blackwell's Haunted Home Renovation series. It's a winner.
Home for the Haunting by Juliet Blackwell
NAL © 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Cozy Mystery, #4 Haunted Home Renovation mystery
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.