Contractor Shannon Hammer is measuring murder motives in the latest Fixer-Upper Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of A Wrench in the Works and Eaves of Destruction...
Shannon's good friend and retired tech billionaire, Raphael Nash, is loving his new retired life but he can't stay unoccupied for too long. He's started the Marigold Foundation that helps fund small companies and individuals who do humanitarian work around the world. It's an exciting time in Lighthouse Cove as Raphael hosts the first ever global conference inviting big thinkers from every area of industry to give presentations on eco-living.
Raphael's old business partner arrives in town with a grudge and a plan to steal him away from his important new passion project. Shannon knows her friend has no intention of giving up Marigold and is proud of Raphael for sticking to his guns. But when his former associate winds up dead, all signs point to Raphael.
It's up to Shannon to hammer out the details of the murder before her friend gets pinned for the crime...
About the Author
A native Californian, New York Times bestselling author Kate Carlisle worked in television for many years before turning to writing. A lifelong fascination with the art and craft of bookbinding led her to write the Bibliophile Mysteries featuring Brooklyn Wainwright, whose bookbinding and restoration skills invariably uncover old secrets, treachery, and murder. She is also the author of the Fixer-Upper Mysteries featuring small-town girl Shannon Hammer, a building contractor specializing in home restoration.
Read an Excerpt
"Have you ever been to a barn raising?" I asked.
My foreman, Wade Chambers, chuckled. "No. But I've seen them in the movies." We strolled around the old Victorian farmhouse we were about to start renovating. Raphael Nash, the owner of the house and the acres of farmland surrounding it, wasn't here. He had been smart enough to rent one of our town's beautifully restored Victorian mansions until this rehab was completed.
"I've seen that movie, too," I said.
"Right?" Wade nodded, grinning. "Some city guy hides out in Amish country to avoid being killed by the bad guys. And sometime in the second act, everyone in the community comes out to help the Amish family build a barn. It looked pretty cool."
"Except for the part where the guy almost drowned in a corn silo."
"Oh, yeah." He made a face. "Ugh."
I sighed as we stepped gingerly on the badly warped planks of the rickety wraparound verandah. "Watching that movie probably doesn't count as actual job experience."
It was embarrassing to admit I'd never built a barn, especially since I'm a building contractor and I've been hanging out at my father's construction sites from the time I was eight years old. My name is Shannon Hammer, and ever since my dad retired five years ago, I've owned Hammer Construction all on my own. And even though we specialized in Victorian home reconstruction, I was proud of the fact that we had built or renovated almost every other style and type of structure out there. But in all my years of building and rehabbing, I had never taken part in a barn raising. In fact, I couldn't remember anyone in the Lighthouse Cove area ever building a new barn.
That might've been due to the fact that I was born and raised in this small coastal town in Northern California, not the first place that came to mind when you thought of farmland. But back in the eighteen fifties, the town was settled by dairy farmers, and to this day, outside the town limits, there are thousands of acres of rich farmland with a gazillion happy cows wherever you look. And yet, I couldn't remember ever seeing a new barn go up. Apparently, the local farmers had managed to get by with the same old barns that had been standing on their properties for over a hundred years.
"So anyway, Rafe wants a new barn," I told my foreman.
"I figured that's why you brought up the subject," he said. "Does he want the barn before or after we renovate his house?"
"Pretty sure it's after, but we'll double-check when we meet tomorrow morning."
We stopped at the front steps and stared across the wide field to the funky old barn where Rafe housed his small herd of milking cows and the odd assortment of hybrid farm equipment he was working with. The red paint was faded and peeling off. A few of the vertical slats were missing, and some of the remaining wood had started to disintegrate. The roof was uneven and missing some shingles.
"It looks ready to fall down."
That was an understatement. I stared at the old structure and felt a glint of excitement. I had never been one to shy away from a challenge, and replacing this clearly unstable outbuilding with a shiny new one would be fun. I turned to Wade. "We can do this. How tough can it be? It's just like any other job, only bigger, right?"
"Way bigger," he said. "But if anyone can get it done, Shannon, you can."
"It's nice of you to say so."
"You're my boss," he said with tongue in cheek. "I have to say nice things to you."
I smacked his arm and we both chuckled. But as we walked back to my truck, I sobered. "Rafe hinted that he's got a deadline for both of these projects, but he wasn't willing to mention what it was. Said we'd talk about it when we meet tomorrow."
"Does he know that the house alone will take at least six months, maybe longer?"
"I warned him."
"Okay," Wade said easily. "Guess we'll find out the rest of the details tomorrow."
"Yeah." The meeting with Rafe and my two foremen was scheduled for six o'clock in the morning. I just hoped we would all be awake enough to go over the final details of the job.
Wade pulled himself up into the truck and settled in the passenger seat. "Rumor has it the guy is made of money."
"Despite the condition of his house and barn, those rumors are true," I said mildly, starting the engine and putting it in reverse.
"Well, then, if he wants a barn . . ."
"We'll give him a barn," I said with a soft laugh.
With a firm nod, Wade pulled out his tablet and started a tentative list of supplies, equipment, and manpower. After a minute, he glanced up at me and grinned. "Guess we'll have to schedule some time to watch one of those barn-raising movies."
Early the next morning Wade and Carla showed up at my place driving Wade's wife's classy BMW sedan. I had offered to drive my truck-with Carla squeezed into the skinny backseat-but then I figured that since we were meeting with a genuine bazillionaire, the image of us driving up to his house in a luxury sedan would send a better message. Namely, that our company was successful. And that we had great taste in cars, too.
Not that my truck wasn't impressive. It was big, shiny, and powerful. And besides, Rafe was a farmer now. Wouldn't he appreciate that his new contractors were driving up in a big hunky truck?
I had to shake my head as I jumped into the front passenger seat. The fact that during our phone call last night the three of us had actually discussed which car we should drive was a testament to our nerves and the importance of this job. A contractor was never so happy as when she had jobs lined up. And this job was a big one that could keep my crew and me busy for months.
"So tell us more about this new client," Carla said as Wade drove off toward the outskirts of town where Rafe's extensive property sat.
I turned in my seat so I could see both her and Wade. "I've only met him a few times and I think he's a pretty great guy. Business-wise, most of my information is from Marigold. Plus I looked him up online when we first talked about doing the job."
Raphael Nash, or Rafe, as he preferred, had made millions in the tech world by inventing, among other items, a unique solar battery that collected and stored energy in miniature solar panels, each the size of a deck of playing cards. From there, Rafe and his company were able to apply those panels to a dozen different uses, including small shingles that were attractive enough to use as siding on homes. They did twice the work of larger roof panels, storing up enough sun power to keep a home running for years.
Rafe was convinced that these small, attractive shingles would look perfect on the outside walls of the sorts of Victorian homes found along the Northern California coast, and while experimenting with the idea, he had discovered Lighthouse Cove. And Marigold.
After that first creative victory, Rafe and his company had gone on to invent a bunch of other products and gadgets that had revolutionized the alternative energy field.
Then, last year Rafe quit the business, leaving his tech company in his partner's good hands and moving to Lighthouse Cove, where he had bought the old Jenkins farm. He had hoped to live a quieter, more rural life, living off the land as much as possible. But instead of retiring to milk cows and fish, his mind wouldn't allow him to relax. He continued to dream up new and crazy ideas to improve life on the farm, mainly focusing on solar- and wind-powered farm equipment. He had even invented a self-reeling fishing pole that ran on solar batteries and he was currently experimenting with safe wind technology. He had installed three wind turbines on his property but had stopped using them after hearing that the big machines might endanger the birds. The guy was a marvel. And he was gorgeous, by the way.
No wonder my friend Marigold had fallen in love with him. And vice versa.
"Gorgeous? Really?" Carla said after hearing my rundown. "Tell me more."
"Well, let's see. He's tall, dark, and handsome. Classic good looks."
"Yummy," she said. "Where's he from?"
"According to Marigold, his mother is from Costa Rica and his father is from somewhere in the Midwest. Rafe was born and raised in San Diego. Also according to Marigold, the guy has already made enough money to last ten lifetimes. Now he wants to concentrate his talents on inventing ways to make life better for the poorest people on the planet."
"That's not a bad goal," Wade said as he made the left turn at Paradise Lane and continued east up and around the hill.
"I've heard he's one of the fifty richest men in the world," Carla said.
"He's definitely in the top twenty," I figured.
Carla bit her lip nervously. "I hope he'll be able to relate to us little people."
"If Marigold loves him," I said, "he's got to be a nice guy."
After a few seconds of contemplation, she nodded. "Okay. I'm holding on to that."
"We'll sit at the dining room table," Rafe said after I'd introduced him to my two foremen at the front door.
"Wherever you'd like," I said.
He led the way into the cramped foyer, past an old wooden newel post that seemed to be the only thing holding the ancient staircase upright, and past the arched entry leading into the sparsely decorated living room.
"I'm not really living here," he explained, "so please excuse the lack of décor."
"No problem," I murmured as we followed him through another archway into the dining room.
"Whoa," Wade said, halting as we all stared at the spread Rafe had arranged for the meeting. The dining table was covered with platters stacked with donuts, pastries, and bagels. Another plate held cream cheese and all the other goodies that we might want to smear onto the bagels. There was a coffee urn, mugs, and a row of soft drinks lined on top of a sideboard.
"Wow," Carla said. "You expecting company?"
Rafe grinned. "You're it."
"This is so nice," I said with a big smile. "You didn't have to do it on our account, but I'm not about to complain."
"Good. Then grab some coffee and have a seat."
We happily followed his instructions and then sat down at the table.
"When I schedule a meeting this early," Rafe explained as he grabbed two fat donuts and put them on his plate, "I figure breakfast should be included in the deal. And since I'm basically a twelve-year-old kid when it comes to nutrition, this is my kind of breakfast."
"Mine, too," I admitted, chuckling. "Thank you for doing this. It wasn't necessary, but it's greatly appreciated."
"Don't thank me yet. I'm about to put you to work for the next few months."
"We're looking forward to it."
"Good. Then let's get started."
But instead of pulling out blueprints for the house or listing all the features he wanted in his new barn, he began talking about Marigold. "You know I've asked her to marry me."
I bit back a smile. "I might've heard a rumor about that."
His own smile was brilliant. "Then you know she said yes."
"I'm so happy for you both," I said, and laid my hand warmly on his forearm.
"She's like no one else I've ever known," he said in an awestruck whisper. "She inspires me to be the very best person I can be. That's why I've started the Marigold Foundation."
"A foundation. That's . . . interesting." I blinked and somehow thought of my father's old saying that the rich were different than you and me. "Does Marigold know you did this?"
"I just told her last night."
"Did she run off screaming?"
Rafe barked out a laugh. "You do know her pretty well."
"Yeah, I do." I kept smiling. "And I know she's not generally impressed with grand gestures."
"No, she isn't," he said, meeting my gaze directly. "And while the gesture may be grand, it isn't an empty promise. The foundation is fully funded, and except for salaries for a small staff, all the foundation money will go toward grants to help eradicate poverty and hunger while saving the environment."
I stared into his eyes for a long moment, then nodded. I already knew that his goals were altruistic and humane, so why not accept him at his word?
He held up a hand. "Okay, let me rephrase that. I'm not looking for any pie-in-the-sky ideas." He smiled. "I don't want any Kumbaya moments from people applying for grant money. I want to hear down-to-earth nuts-and-bolts stuff. I want to hear ways to use cutting-edge technologies that will actually help people."
I'd had a positive impression of Raphael Nash from the first minute I'd met him last month, but my loyalty was with my friend Marigold. I trusted my instincts, though, as well as Marigold's, and everything I'd just seen in Rafe's eyes and heard in his voice told me that he could be trusted.
I took a small bite of a bear claw and chewed it for a few seconds. I wondered why he had mentioned the Marigold Foundation and thought I'd better ask the question. "How is the foundation connected to the work we're going to do on your home and the new barn?"
"I'm glad you asked," he said, gulping down some coffee. "Let me explain what I have in mind."
The three of us pulled out our tablets and prepared to take notes.
Rafe folded his hands together and smiled. "I'm going to put on a conference."
I glanced at my two foremen. As announcements went, Rafe's wasn't exactly earth-shattering. But the more he talked it through, the more I could see that this conference of his could be a major event. He already had a name for it.
"Future Global Survival Con," he said with a wide grin. "Impressive, right?"
He looked so guileless yet so proud of himself, I almost laughed. His twelve-year-old-boy sensibilities were showing again.
"Very," I said.
"I recently sent out two thousand glossy color brochures to companies and individuals who are active in all the fields I plan to target. So far, over three hundred people have registered to attend." He looked so delighted with himself, it was contagious. I smiled back as he added, "We'll be sold out at five hundred."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have read all of the books in Kate Carlisle's Fixer-Upper Mystery series and I really enjoy jumping into the story and visiting with the characters at the beginning of the book. This book was a little different. Shannon has a huge time and life consuming construction job. The way the story is written, I felt very consumed by this project as well. I haven't read a book in this series since the last one came out and I was really struggling to remember Marigold and whether or not I'd ever been introduced to Raphael Nash. Mac was mentioned near the beginning of the book, but he wasn't introduced with enough information for a reader new to this series to understand who he was until a little later in the book. Once I got past the construction project, I found the book easier to get into, and finished it fairly quickly. Overall, I liked the book, but I would not suggest this be the first book in the series someone read.
Shannon and her crew are renovating an old farmhouse for millionaire Rafe and Shannon’s good friend, Marigold. Rafe has retired from his tech empire and is happily working on inventions to help the environment. Shannon is working on a tight deadline because Rafe is sponsoring an eco conference and everything must be ready. Not only is the house being remodeled, but they are building an ecosphere (a plant-filled tower) and prepping for a barn-raising. Everything is finished and the conference has begun when things begin to go wrong. First, Rafe’s old partner (a completely unlikable character) turns up and insults Marigold and argues with Rafe. The conference is full of zany characters, egotistical snobs, and just plain crazies. Shannon and her boyfriend, Max, get involved in the investigation. Quick-paced and warm-hearted, this is a good cozy mystery to read on an autumn day with a glass of apple cider.
Shot Through the Hearth is the seventh book in the Fixer-Upper Mystery series and what a lovely addition this book was! Shannon Hammer has always thrived on challenges and when her friend’s beau, retired tech billionaire Raphael Nash, contacted her about taking on a renovation project for his old Victorian farmhouse, she and her team were excited about the opportunity. What they didn’t realize was the scope of what Raphael was looking to accomplish. This was going to be their biggest and most challenging construction undertaking yet. With everything moving along relatively smoothly, Shannon was loving the challenge. Raphael wanted to repurpose as many materials as possible and he had many great plans that included the latest green building methodologies. His “crowning achievement” was going to be the venue that he wanted created to hold the first annual Future Global Survival Con where like minds would be attending with the goal of exploring cutting edge technologies that would help people. Unfortunately, not all in attendance were as altruistic minded as Raphael and it was not long before Shannon found herself entangled in another murder investigation. There is a lot to appreciate in Shot Through the Hearth. This story will definitely appeal to readers who enjoy a green living lifestyle because there are a lot of cool ideas discussed. The murder mystery that Shannon finds herself involved in was quite interesting and following the twists and turns to uncovering the murderer was nicely done. There were also many great characters who were quirky and added much humor to the story. Overall. Shot Through the Hearth was a humdinger of a cozy mystery and I would recommend it to all readers who enjoy a crafty whodunit. This review is based on a complimentary book I received from Berkley Prime Crime. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
This 7th book in this series has two things happening that touches my heart: restoration of old homes and saving and protecting the environment. This series still provides enjoyment and entertainment with some quirky and/or unpleasant characters as well as the regulars ones that I still like such as Shannon and her close friends. This cozy, fast-paced, page-turner still has me a fan of this author. I loved it. As a Kate rater, I was given a complimentary copy for my honest review.
As one of Kate’s Raters, I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. It's all about saving the environment in this seventh installment of Carlisle's fixer-upper series. Narrated by Shannon Hammer, contractor and protagonist of the series, it introduces new characters and brings back familiar ones. Retired tech billionaire Raphael Nash is hosting a grand conference in Lighthouse Cove and has hired Shannon and her crew to renovate his home and barn for the on-site event. Not only is he the fiancée of Shannon's friend, Marigold, the namesake of his foundation, he is gorgeous and a genuinely nice guy. Unlike Shannon and the business-owners of Lighthouse Cove, who stand to benefit from the conference, Rafe's former business partner, Dillon Charles, is less than thrilled. Vitriolic, condescending, and rude, he rubs everyone the wrong way. Virtual opposites in both looks and personality, his association with Rafe is a puzzle. He vents his feelings of frustration and betrayal on Rafe, trying to convince him to return to their company. But, his criticisms and insults only make things worse. When Dillon is found dead during one of the opening events of the conference, it is a shock, but not a surprise. Shannon finds herself at a crime scene, a familiar, yet unfortunate occurrence for both her and police chief Eric Jensen(AKA "Thor"). And, as if that wasn't bad enough, it is followed by another death. Then, a series unfortunate events too numerous to be coincidental. This was another enjoyable book in the series. Reminiscent of signature Agatha Christie, there are several suspects, each having a motive, the culprit being the one you least expect. It had a good story, likeable characters, and humor(sometimes laugh-out-loud). And, as always, I learned something new.
I'm fascinated with all of the detail in the latest in Kate Carlisle's Fixer-Upper Mysteries, particularly since I don't know anything about home construction or renovation. This time it's a huge job for building contractor Shannon Hammer and her crew. Her friend, billionaire inventor Rafe, wants to time the renovation of his Victorian farmhouse with the Future Global Survival Con he will sponsor on his property in Lighthouse Cove. The construction will include a tower to be used as a vertical garden for "a lush maze of plants and flowers growing up the walls and cascading down the walls." And, of course, an old-fashioned (environmentally friendly) barn raising. But there is bad feeling between Rafe and his former tech partner, who noisily demands that he return to their company. When his partner turns up dead, Rafe is only one of the suspects--it seems everyone disliked the guy intensely. Several of the conference attendees have reason to get revenge after dealings with him that ended up as a huge disappointment . . . to say the least! I loved spending time with Shannon's friends, crew, father, uncle, and other Lighthouse Cove residents, including her boyfriend (author Mac), Rafe's fiancee Marigold, a hunky Scottish stonemason, a botanist that cries when he thinks his plants are not being treated well, and many more. This is a strong entry in in the series with a well-developed mystery--check it out!
SHOT THROUGH THE HEARTH by Kate Carlisle is the seventh book in the Fixer-Upper Mystery series. It’s the wonderful story of Shannon Hammer, contractor and owner of Hammer Construction in Lighthouse Cove. She’s hired by Raphael “Rafe” Nash (a retired tech billionaire who is engaged to one of her best friends, Marigold) to enlarge and remodel an existing home, build an Ecosphere, and to hold a barn raising. During the lengthy remodel, Rafe spends his time working on creating the Marigold Foundation and making plans for the first global conference where knowledge can be shared in order to make this planet better for us all as well as inviting the top people in the eco-living field (both as attendees and speakers) to attend. Once the conference starts, we meet a wide array of professionals from an ethnobotanist, a specialist in smart mice studies, and an eco-fisheries expert. Rafe has even enlisted Shannon’s boyfriend, MacKintyre “Mac” Sullivan – author and former navy SEAL, to be one of the speakers. Dillon Charles, Rafe’s partner, attends managing to disrupt things making several people angry. Even Rafe, who after Dillion insulted his fiancée, told him to leave the property and not come back. When Dillion is found dead among the barn raising materials, things start to unravel at the conference. With such a wide array of patrons and so many of them despising the victim and having a good motive for murder, where will the authorities start? Police Chief Eric Jensen, boyfriend of Shannon’s sister Chloe, and Tommy Gallagher, assistant police chief and Shannon’s ex-high school boyfriend, have their hands full! Disaster continues to strike with another murder, gun shots, and poisonings. It seems as the crimes and victims pile up that the suspect list grows just as high. Shannon and Mac agree to help Rafe any way they can. They are determined to figure out who and why before the conference is in the recycle heap or someone close to them becomes a victim too. Is Shannon really a murder magnet? Can they figure out who the real murderer is before they strike again or get away? While Shannon live to see her wonderful romance with Mac progress further? Can Rafe straighten out the mess of the past? Will there be a second global conference? SHOT THROUGH THE HEARTH is a very well written cozy mystery that will have you suspecting just about everyone as you explore the possible suspects alongside Shannon Hammer. It will keep you turning pages while you hope that neither Shannon nor her friends, who we have come to think of as our friends too, come to any harm as danger lurks and bullets fly. You will even chuckle a few times proving there is laughter even in the “small things” in life. Kate Carlisle has managed to keep this series fresh and exciting and once again proves what a great writer she is. Although part of a series, this book can definitely be read as a standalone book. Without hesitation, I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves a cozy mysteries, a great whodunit story, a clean read that will keep you turning the pages or just an out and out great book regardless of what genre you like. This book will fit the bill and have you recommending it as well.
I love old houses, and the idea of a construction company that specializes in the restoration and reconstruction of old Victorians makes me happy in my soul. There's just something magical and homey in an old house. The main character in Kate Carlisle's Fixer-upper Mystery series, Shannon Hammer, breathes new life into old Victorian houses...so of course, I had to give this series a try! Shot Through the Hearth is the 7th book in the series. Normally I don't jump into a series after so many books, but I was willing to try it to see if I would like the characters and the plot. I'm glad I did! This was an enjoyable cozy! I was easily able to figure out most of the characters and their relationships, although I think I would have understood the nuances a bit better had I started at the beginning of this series. In Shot Through the Hearth, Hammer Construction is hired for a complicated reconstruction and new construction project. They have 8 months to refurbish a large Victorian home, and build some green eco-friendly structures, including an eco-friendly barn. Their client, Rafe Nash, made his millions in the tech industry and energy efficient inventions. He plans an eco-friendly convention just after the construction projects are finished. Shannon finds herself really liking Rafe (which is good since he is engaged to a close friend of hers), but his business partner, Dillon, is another matter altogether. Things get dicey when a body is found in the barn during the convention.....and then another body turns up. With more than 500 people in attendance at the conference and most of them quirky in one way or another.....there are a lot of suspects and lots of investigation! For me this was a nice introduction to this series. I'm definitely going to backtrack and read the Fixer-upper Mysteries from the beginning! **I voluntarily read an advanced review copy of this book from Berkley via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
This was my first book in this series and I am impressed. Of course, I expected to be impressed since I have read all of the books in the author’s Bibliophile Mystery series and have loved each and every one of them. I’ve also watched a few of the movies based on this series and liked them okay, but wasn’t totally impressed. My belief is that the book is always better than the movie – and that was certainly correct this time. I like both Shannon and Mac much better in the book! I liked the lighthearted banter between Shannon and Mac and also between Shannon and her friends. Shannon and her construction company are undertaking their biggest job yet and it is really exciting for them because they will be doing some types of construction they’ve never done before. Not only will they be refurbishing an old farmhouse, but they’ll also be constructing all the venues for a huge environmental/earth survival conference where all of the latest green building technologies will be featured. This is all at the behest their client Raphael (Rafe) Nash who is a retired tech bazillionaire who is engaged to one of Shannon’s best friends – Marigold. As the conference begins, Shannon meets some really strange people who are involved in all sorts of planet-saving research and/or projects. Some are true ding-a-lings, some are serious believers, and others are putting their drive and intelligence to good use by developing earth sustaining products. Everybody seems really excited about this first-ever conference – and the chance to win a grant from the newly formed Marigold Foundation. It isn’t too long into the conference before a body is found. The victim was a real dastard and wasn’t liked by anyone – meaning that there are well over five-hundred suspects. Finding someone who didn’t want him dead would be an easier task. As both the conference and the investigation continue – other strange things happen – and then another body. Who is trying to ruin the conference? Or – is someone also trying to kill Rafe or Marigold? Mac and Shannon continue to help the Police Chief with the investigation because they want to assure that their friends, Rafe and Marigold, aren’t harmed. One of my favorite parts has to do with Shannon and the ‘smart’ mice. Also, as I mentioned before, the humor and banter among the main characters are delightful. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and definitely recommend it. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Murder at a Planet-Saving Conference Shannon Hammer, a contractor who specializes in restoring old houses, is particularly pleased to get a commission to restore the old farmhouse that will be the home of her friend, Marigold, and her fiance, Raphael Nash, a retired tech billionaire. In addition to the farmhouse project, Rafe wants Shannon’s team to construct a conference center. It’s supposed to have environmentally friendly buildings and be the site of a planet-saving conference. The project has a short timeline because Rafe wants to showcase his green building technology. The site is ready on time and the conference goes on as scheduled. Shannon finds the participants an interesting mix of odd-balls and serious technologists. All is going well. The five-hundred people in attendance seem to be enjoying the site and the presentations until Rafe’s ex-partner is found dead. Now Rafe is the primary suspect and Shannon and her partner, Mac, need to help the police figure out what happened. This is a fun read. Shannon and Mac engage in amusing banter. I found Rafe an attractive character. The descriptions of his conference center are well conceived. If you enjoy renovation and construction, the process of building the center is well described. The background in eco-friendly technology is interesting, but sometimes veers into parody. Still, it’s fun to meet the strange characters responsible of the ideas. Altogether, this is a fun book. I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
...You give love a bad name (said with a nod to one of my favorite Bon Jovi songs from years past) and another to the author, whose easy-to-read mysteries - and the characters in them - have become favorites as well. This one is the seventh in the "Fixer-Upper" series, which features the very capable, intelligent and never wimpy building contractor Shannon Hammer. Those qualities, nearly always lacking in the heroines of most cozy mysteries I've read, made me love her in last year's "A Wrench in the Works," so I was super-delighted that my request for an advance review copy of this one from the publisher (through NetGalley) was granted. Although Victorian restoration is her company's specialty (plus a new line of tiny houses that are becoming quite popular in the real world), it is a barn-raising that brings her to the home of filthy rich Rafe Nash, now retired and starting a foundation to help fund humanitarian efforts worldwide. She's also charged with renovating his mansion and erecting what will be called an Ecosphere, a plant-friendly tower - and most of these projects must be completed in time for Nash's upcoming inaugural Future Global Survival Con that will bring thousands to the property. She's joined by her capable company team, her tight-knit group of female friends (which includes Marigold, Nash's soon-to-be bride), her hunky ex-Navy Seal and now best-selling writer boyfriend Mac and a few other notables such as her dad and his brother Pete. Add a cadre of "smart mice" - yes, real critters - to the mix (Shannon doesn't fear much, but if she's got a list, these rodents are at the top), and you've got the blueprint for an interesting, hard-to-put-down book. As the conference gets under way, the barn-raising project comes to an abrupt halt when Rafe's partner in the company he just left - a total jerk - turns up dead as one of the door nails. That incident forms the foundation for the rest of the story, during which yet another body turns up, Rafe's life is threatened and Shannon tries to juggle the barn-raising and worry about her dad's newfound love life with figuring out the murderer's identity and keeping her distance from those dreaded mice. Fast-forward a few ills, spills and chills, and it shapes up to be another one well done. Kudos once again!
Shot Through the Hearth by Kate Carlisle is the seventh A Fixer-Upper Mystery. It can be read by those familiar with the series as well as newcomers. I found Shot Through the Hearth to be a delightful cozy mystery. Shannon Hammer is excited by the challenge of Rafe’s project. He not only wants his Victorian farmhouse renovated, Rafe wishes a unique tower (the Ecosphere) to be constructed and for them to hold a barn raising. It will be Shannon and her crews first barn. Rafe also wants them to use green materials as well as unique eco-friendly gadgets. The one downside is they only have eight months to complete Rafe’s list since he plans on holding the first Future Global Survival Con. The conference begins and we are introduced to a quirky cast of characters. There is Marcus Reedy with his special vine, Stephanie to Midge Andresen with her sandcastle worms. Sketch Horn, an author, is also in attendance and Mac is not thrilled (wait until you meet him). When Rafe’s old business partner, Dillon Charles is murdered, there are a host of suspects who could have killed the unpleasant man. There are good clues and some unexpected revelations. As the conference continues, there are a series of unfortunate events including another death. Shannon with help from her boyfriend, Mac work to uncover the culprit. I love the banter between Mac and Shannon. They are a couple who are truly meant for each other. I appreciate that Shannon and Mac share information with Eric Jensen, the chief of police. The female readers will relish the character Niall Rose with his Scottish brogue and the descriptions of him wearing his kilt. I laughed often while reading Shot Through the Hearth. It is a humorous story that I was sorry to see end. I especially enjoyed Shannon’s reaction to the smart mice (it was hilarious). Shot Through the Hearth is told in the first person which I normally dislike, but it works for this series. We get to see things from Shannon’s perspective which can be highly entertaining at times (like with the smart mice). There is one scene at the end that had me in stitches. I cannot wait to read the next installment in A Fixer-Upper Mystery series. Shot Through the Hearth is a captivating cozy mystery with a barn building, flirtatious fauna, puzzling patents, malicious mushrooms, wacky worms and a dazzling detective duo.