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Mallets Aforethought: A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery    by Sarah Graves order for
Mallets Aforethought
by Sarah Graves
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

Home repair fanatic Jacobia 'Jake' Tiptree and her very pregnant pal Ellie White are busily involved in restoring Eastport's notorious landmark, the old Harlequin House, to its former glory for the upcoming gala of the local Historical Society, when they accidentally discover a walled-up room with two corpses inside. One is a skeleton dressed in 1920s flapper chic, but the other is a fresh body belonging to the strychnine-poisoned person of well-disliked local real-estate mogul, Hector Gosling.

As usual, in the midst of doing, and providing useful tips for, various household repair projects and trying to sort out her own family dynamics, Jake gets busily involved in trying to solve Gosling's gruesome murder, not out of any liking for the deceased but because Ellie's taciturn husband is arrested as the prime suspect. As the body count mounts, it becomes a race against time for Jake to solve the mystery before she ends up as the next corpse.

Sarah Graves has once again constructed an intelligent, tautly paced and tension-filled narrative wherein her intrepid amateur sleuth Jake Tiptree attempts to solve multiple murders. She combines interesting tidbits about home repair with a surprisingly intricate mystery and complex interpersonal relationships. Witty Jacobia is a resourceful narrator through whom Graves portrays the essence of a small Maine town with its live-in-each-other's-pockets, rumor-spreading atmosphere, as well as its wild and unspoilt beauty.

Mallets Aforethought, and indeed the entire Home Repair is Homicide series, involves readers in a richly conceived world of murder and imagination, while also conveying down-to-earth practicality.

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