WRECK THE HALLS: A Home Repair Is Homicide Mystery
In her first hardcover in this popular series (Repair to Her Grave, etc.), Graves entertains with a cozy New England murder as she also treats such dark topics as domestic violence, stalking, date rape and drug abuse. When not do-it-yourselfing around her 1823 Federal house on a Maine island or looking after her son, Sam, Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree, a former Manhattan financial manager who's divorced from a philandering neurosurgeon, solves mysteries. In this outing, a neighbor, Faye Anne Carmody, stands accused of murdering her wife-beating husband, Merle, a butcher who was literally butchered. Although no one liked Merle, Faye is the prime suspect, and no one doubts her guilt except her friend Ellie. Ellie encourages Jake to investigate, and before long there are so many likely suspects you wonder if there is anyone on the island who didn't have a motive to kill Merle. But Graves is crafty—and craftsmanlike—enough to pull a least likely killer out of her top hat. Home repair doesn't figure as much as in past books, but the case is difficult to crack and involves considerable danger for Jake and Ellie. Incidentally, Jake acquires a cat and a mouse to keep her dog, Monday, company; and her ex-husband, who's moved to Maine to be near Sam, asks her help to persuade his new girlfriend to marry him. Graves's characters are very human creations, warts and all, with Jake in particular making fine company. (Dec. 4)
Forecast:A most attractive holiday jacket will snag attention, but a few supportive blurbs, particularly from male authors, would help signal that this series isn't just for women.