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Nail Biter: A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery    by Sarah Graves order for
Nail Biter
by Sarah Graves
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Pat Elliott

Jacobia (Jake) Tiptree owns a 1823 Federal-style house in Maine which is in a constant state of destruction or renovation. Confident in her skills, she and her friend Ellie buy a fixer-upper cottage. Their first tenants are an eclectic group of people who have come to Maine to explore their supernatural powers, and move in right before Halloween. These would-be witches find numerous things wrong in their cozy cottage and cannot even change an electric fuse, so Jake is always on call.

When Jake finds a body in the shed of the rental property, the two landlords have more on their hands than they can easily fix. A deeper look into the group renting the cottage reveals drugs, a con man and his sidekick, a wealthy widow, an ex-cop and a teenager who doesn't speak. One of the five disappears on the night of the murder and Jake uses her powers of deduction to delve into the Eastport drug scene. Her informant is her own son Sam, who is a recovering druggie and alcoholic. After a telephone call offering a solution to the murder and the disappearance, Jake unwisely meets the caller alone. She finds herself facing a menacing figure without even a hammer in hand. Luckily Jake's husband Wade, who stays out of her way until her life is threatened, is there to untangle the knot Jake has created.

Nail Biter is a delightful book about a sometimes bumbling investigator, her adventures and misadventures in murder and mayhem, not to mention the trials and tribulations of home repair and remodeling - not just one house, but two. Jake is staunchly aided and abetted by her housekeeper, Bella Diamond. Bella, a jewel in the kitchen, knows all the town gossip and doesn't mind passing it along. You will enjoy this quick and cozy read.

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