Sunday, November 13, 2016

Have You Heard? - If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell

If Walls Could Talk
Haunted Home Renovation Book 1
Written by Juliet Blackwell, Narrated by Xe Sands
Unabridged Audiobook, Listening Length: 7 hrs, 27 mins
Publisher: Tantor Audio Release Date: August 19, 2013

Melanie Turner has made quite a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her father was in charge of Turner Construction for many years.  The sudden death of Mel's mother knocked him off his feet, so Mel stepped in for him, but it has been two years, and he shows no sign of returning to work.  Now her reputation may be on the line.

First she must figure out what unidentified assailants want from the old house that caused them to torture Kenneth, who was living there.  A demo party provides good cover to root through walls and ceilings, leaving none untouched by holes and gashes or torn down.  By morning's light the party has just disbanded, leaving a mortally wounded Kenneth to be found by Mel Turner on an early morning visit about the house.  She cradles Kenneth as he dies.

The police show up but do a poor job collecting evidence from the scene, including missing finding a gun on the dumb waiter.  Mel wonders what is up for the SFPD to do such a lousy job.  Then she discovers that they have arrested Kenneth's good friend Matt because a nurse overheard Kenneth saying it was all Matt's fault just before he died.  Only she had no idea Kenneth was referring to a map, as in treasure map.  Motive was becoming clearer.

Was the map what the assailants want, if there even is one?  Perhaps treasure has already been found at this unknown field?  Was the whole thing a hoax from a bygone era when tricksters seeded mines with gold and gems?  Some men want the map quite desperately.

Mel does find a journal written by a woman who ran the household until her husband quarreled with his mentor and one ended up dead.  Mel takes the journal to the Historical Society for safekeeping but then their place is ransacked.  Everywhere Mel goes ends up the worse for wear.  She has to find out what these men are looking for before this historic beauty and Mel's business go to the dump.

This was a very satisfying mystery that went in many directions, zig zagging all over the Bay area and from suspect to suspect.  Mel does solve this mystery, but I would never have guessed the solution without her sleuthing.  Then again, Mel had a bit of extra help when Kenneth's ghost popped in and out, filling her in on some crucial information.  Not a cozy per say but the violence did all take place off stage.  I think I would call this either a “hard cozy” or “soft boiled.”  

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook narrated by Xe Sands who has read most if not all of Juliet Blackwell's books expertly with phrases in French and a Latino dialect as no strangers to Xe.  She is, without a doubt, one of my favorite narrators.  Along with Juliet Blackwell, they make a formidable team!

Sandie Herron

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