The Book of Old Houses
Bantam, Jan 2008, $22.00
Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree seems to always be fixing up something in her 1823 Eastport, Maine home yet finds the time to solve a murder or two. However, this time she gets spooked when she finds a book in the foundation of her basement. It seems written in blood and contains names of people who have lived in the house through the almost two centuries including the current spooked occupant. She sends the book to rare book expert Horace Robotham for authentication.
Horace is murdered and the book vanished. His friend David DiMaio arrives at Jake’s house introducing himself as the late Horace’s friend. He also insists he drove to Eastport because someone he went to school with Bert Merkle had a motive to kill Horace. Dave asks questions of the household and the townsfolk. Horace’s lonely friend Jason Riverton is killed and in a separate incident so is wannabe author Ann Talbert. The police claim the latter two deaths were coincidental misfortunate accidents; Jake refuses to believe the probability of so much coincidence as winning the lottery has better odds. She risks her life to prove a killer is working the book beat.
Jake is a strong independent woman, who does most of the repairs and renovations to her fixer-upper; she also worries about her son Sam who just got out of jail while planning a poster for the town patriarch. Dave is the catalyst who sets much of the events in motion, but Jake is the tough broad trying to fix the problem. Sarah Graves latest “home repair” cozy is a grand regional amateur sleuth.