Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Home for the Haunting by Juliet Blackwell

Just when I think Juliet Blackwell can't get any better, she ratchets it up a notch. Home for the Haunting, her latest Haunted Home Renovation mystery is her best yet, an intense, riveting story about a tragedy. San Francisco contractor Mel Turner is compelled to find answers to this latest mystery.

Mel never means to find haunted houses. This time, she's leading a volunteer crew who are working on a home for a disabled owner. But, her attention continues to wander to the house next door, the one the neighborhood kids call "The Murder House". Twenty-five years earlier, Sydney Lawrence murdered his wife and oldest daughter. The two youngest children escaped. When some of Mel's volunteer crew finds a body, she's drawn into the case. Surprisingly, it's an inspector with the San Francisco Police Department who asks Mel to help. This time, she wants Mel's help as a medium that can see the ghosts in "The Murder House" because there's a connection to the latest death.

Mel is the grumpy contractor with a heart as big as California. When her older sister moves back home while she goes through marriage problems, Mel is cranky and frustrated. But, she can't imagine how she'd feel if someone killed her family. She relates the ghosts' experiences to her own life, and agrees to help. "I'd had the feeling that my unique talent might be to seek out and find homes filled with pain and strife, and maybe, by renovating them and communicating with their ghosts, bring them back to life."

I admire Mel. She lives with a house full of men, works hard for a living, and, after her divorce, has a hard time accepting that a man might be interested in her. And, she's not like so many amateur sleuths. Mel is aware that she's an amateur, and shouldn't be involved in murder cases. "I may be a crime-solving genius, but if you've noticed, so far my genius pretty much arises from accidents. I haven't actually guessed the perpetrators before they, you know, try to kill me."

Home for the Haunting is the most tragic of Blackwell's novels, the story of a family that appeared to be happy, killed by the husband and father. It's also a warm, sympathetic story as Mel steps up to look for answers for the surviving family member. Mel puts as much energy into finding answers to put ghosts' troubles to rest as she does when she works on a house renovation. And, because of that, her reputation is starting to get around. In Juliet Blackwell's capable hands, Mel Turner becomes the expert on finding answers for owners whose historic houses are haunted by the ghosts of tragedies past. Together, Blackwell and Mel are building reputations.

Juliet Blackwell's website is

Home for the Haunting by Juliet Blackwell. Obsidian. 2013. ISBN 9780451240705 (paperback), 322p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Karen C said...

I love ghost stories! This one sounds good.

Lesa said...

It's terrific, Karen. I hope you have the chance to read it.