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by Diane Kelly
St Martin's Paperbacks, March 2020
352 pages
ISBN: 1250197457

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Whitney and Buck buy their second house to fix up and flip. Then when Whitney goes to begin working on cleaning out the house, she finds the front door is blocked. She and Sawdust, her feline companion, enter through the garage only to find a dead body lying up against the front door and a young man coming down the stairs.

While Diane Kelly writes most of the chapters in the House Flipper Mysteries from Whitney's perspective, she includes a few chapters capturing Sawdust's point of view. So, when Whitney scolds him, Sawdust complains that it makes no sense since he only poked the body to see if she were alive, and then the cat launches into attack mode when his human screams.

The young man is the grandson of the former owner, Lillian Walsh, and the dead woman is a neighbor, Nelda Dolan. Whitney calls the police, and Detective Collin Flynn advises Whitney to get the locks changed when they find out almost all the neighbors have keys to Lillian's house. Next, Det. Flynn, in an unusual turn, asks Whitney to gather intel as she works on the house. It seems the neighbors living around the cul-de-sac, Songbird Circle, are generally friendly except for Nelda. Whitney picks up even more details when she attends the Songbird Circle ladies' poker night.

And there is no shortage of suspects. Nelda's daughter Becky is the beneficiary of an insurance policy on her mom that is due to expire in just a couple of weeks. Mary Sue and Nelda both want Lillian's award-winning peach pie recipe and search for it after her death. Nelda's husband, Carl, is seeing a woman who works at the grocery store. Dakota, Lillian's grandson, is caught pawning jewelry he took from his grandmother's house.

Diane Kelly constructs a complicated mystery, including numerous red herrings, well-developed characters, and a very resourceful feline sleuth.

§ Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton’s, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, March 2020

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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