Deck the Hallways (Fixer-Upper Mystery Series #4)

Deck the Hallways (Fixer-Upper Mystery Series #4)

by Kate Carlisle

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451488220
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/01/2016
Series: Fixer-Upper Mystery Series , #4
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 65,690
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

A native Californian, New York Times bestselling author Kate Carlisle worked in television for many years before turning to writing. Inspired by the northern seaside towns of her native California, where Victorian mansions grace the craggy cliffs and historic lighthouses warn fishermen and smugglers alike, Kate was drawn to create the Fixer-Upper Mysteries, featuring small-town girl Shannon Hammer, a building contractor specializing in home restoration. Kate also writes the New York Times bestselling Bibliophile Mysteries featuring Brooklyn Wainwright.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Eleven Shopping Days Until Christmas

"Merry Christmas, Shannon!" my elderly neighbor shouted as I backed my truck into the street. Wearing a green-and-red-striped housecoat and a red wool hat with reindeer antlers, she stood in her yard watering her colorful flower beds.

We were two weeks into December and Mrs. Higgins's front yard was festooned with rows of dancing candy canes and shimmery swirling snowflakes. A glow-in-the-dark, six-foot-tall blow-up Santa Claus was surrounded by eight large plastic reindeer. On her wide front porch was a life-sized animatronic Snow White and her seven dwarves frolicking around a twinkling Christmas tree.

Overnight, bright holiday lights had been strung up and down across her roof and around each window and the front door. I suspected her sons-in-law had worked all night and I was touched by their kindness, knowing how much their mother-in-law loved the holiday. I also knew from experience that these lights would remain lit twenty-four hours a day into the New Year.

For the next few weeks, astronauts traveling in space would wonder and worry about a strange, radiant glow emanating from northern California, but we locals knew it was only Mrs. Higgins's holiday lights. The woman knew how to do Christmas right-and at the same time made all her neighbors, including me, look like Ebenezer in comparison.

My lights were always the last in the neighborhood to go up and, while I had many treasured ornaments from childhood, my collection of decorations were, comparatively speaking, sadly lacking. Still, I love Christmas and any day now I would spring into full holiday mode, but I wasn't quite feeling the spirit yet. Nevertheless, I smiled and rolled down my window. "Good morning, Mrs. Higgins. You're out early this morning."

"These roses aren't going to water themselves, little missy."

She had a point.

"You have a good day," I said, and she gave me an absent wave as I raised the window and drove off down the street. Mrs. Higgins grew dottier every year, but she was still a good neighbor despite her tendency toward garish holiday overkill.

Honestly I enjoyed Christmas as much as anyone and always looked forward to buying a tree and decorating my house for the season. But was it too much to ask for a few weeks of quiet calm after struggling through the frenzied overindulgence of Thanksgiving celebrations? Did we have to gear up for the next round of hectic merriment so soon?

"Oh, lighten up," I muttered. I was already sick of my grouchy, anti-holiday attitude and it was barely eight in the morning. The truth was, I hadn't slept well the night before and now I was late for work. It didn't help that my personal life was in shambles, but that was something I refused to dwell on. But if this cranky mood went unchecked, I was likely to turn into what my crew would call The Boss from, well, you know where. In other words, a really bad boss. And that just wasn't me.

With that thought in mind, I drove to my favorite coffee bar and bought the latte that would magically transform me into a reasonable human being.

By the time I arrived at the job site ten minutes later, I was surprised to hear myself humming along to a Christmas carol on the radio. Thanks to James Taylor's magically mellow version of "Deck the Halls," and the wonders of caffeine and steamed milk, I was feeling better. It was like a mini-Christmas miracle, I thought, as I pulled into the long driveway and parked my truck by the side of the six-car garage behind the old Forester mansion.

"Made it," I said aloud, and breathed a sigh of relief. My humor was still somewhat intact and I was ready to get started. I slid down from the cab, zipped up my quilted vest, reached for my knit cap and my latte, and locked the door.

I walked to the back of the truck and paused for a moment to gaze up at Forester House, officially the biggest Victorian home in Lighthouse Cove. That was saying a lot, because our town was known for its truly grand Victorian mansions. But this one was enormous. I felt a shiver skip down my arms, not from the cold-although it was close to freezing-but from gleeful anticipation. This job promised to be one of the most challenging I'd ever faced, but also one of the most fun. Either way, I was ready for it.

Forester House was a true original. One of the oldest homes in the area, it was built in 1867 in the classic Queen Anne style. But though it followed those traditional lines with its intricately detailed tower rising three stories at the northeast corner, its plethora of gables and mismatched window sizes and shapes, and its four tall chimneys, Forester House was anything but feminine and frilly. Instead, it had a dark, gothic vibe made even more intense by thick, sage green sandstone walls and wildly asymmetrical rooflines covered in dark, heavy tiles instead of the traditional lighter weight composite shingles. Enormous dormers with Tudor detailing rose to encompass three stories. A porte cochere on the east side of the house allowed visitors to be dropped off and step directly onto the veranda that wrapped around three sides of the home and was wide enough to be used as an outdoor room in good weather.

Originally the home had been built to accommodate Mr. Forester's wealthy summer guests who'd driven up from San Francisco and stayed for months at a time, so he had added balconies onto all six of the large bedrooms on the second floor. The attic, too, featured several smaller terraces tucked under the sturdy, tile-shingled eaves.

The stones used to build Forester House had not been cut smoothly but instead had been left rough and uneven. Those details did nothing to make the mansion unsightly; on the contrary, the place was a strapping fortress of a home that exuded raw power and strength. It was imposing and even a bit intimidating (although I would never utter that word out loud).

Any remaining Forester family members had long since died or moved away, and after years of neglect the house had gone into foreclosure. It was now owned by the Lighthouse Cove Bank and Trust, a respected and reliable local institution. Half the people in town had accounts at Lighthouse B&T, including me and my father and most of my friends so everyone was thrilled when the bank decided to donate the home to the town's favorite charity, Holiday Homebuilders, instead of tearing it down and selling off small parcels of the picturesque two-acre lot.

The Holiday Homebuilders charity had been created over twenty years ago to support an annual tradition in Lighthouse Cove. Every December, nearly everyone in town came together to help build a house for a family in need. We furnished it and then decorated it for the season, right down to the bowls of Christmas candy on the tables.

Jason Walsh, who ran the charity, used to work on my dad's construction crew so he knew something about building homes. He was truly excited about refurbishing Forester House, subdividing the huge mansion into apartments in order to provide housing for fifteen lucky families. It was an unprecedented donation and the news had caused everyone in town to buzz with delight.

And I was buzzing more than anyone else because the person in charge of the entire project was me!

In addition, twelve local contractors had volunteered their services. After many meetings and discussions, I had assigned each of them a section of the mansion to transform into a separate dwelling for either a small family or a single person. Except for the unfinished third-floor attic, most of the rooms would remain single large spaces with the addition of kitchenettes and closets where needed. Local carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and painters had also volunteered their time to the cause. Six local interior decorators would work with the contractors to furnish the spaces. Since many of the families would bring very little furniture with them, it was up to us to turn these places into comfortable homes. The decorators had been working for weeks, shopping for fine quality used furniture and interesting bargains. A local mattress store was donating brand-new beds for each apartment and a nearby furniture store was filling in with everything that hadn't already been covered.

It was heartwarming to see such generosity flowing from my fellow townspeople this time of year. So with all that wonderfulness surrounding me, why hadn't I gotten into the spirit of the season yet? Why couldn't I suck up the joy and get with the program?

"There you are."

I whipped around and saw Wade Chambers, my head foreman, waving at me from the back veranda. He jogged down the steps and ran over to meet me. "Merry Christmas, Shannon."

"Hey, Wade. How's it going?" As I said the words, I scowled inwardly. What was wrong with me? I couldn't extend a happy holiday greeting to one of my oldest friends? Apparently not. I just wasn't ready. Fine. I slid my tool chest out of the truck and tried not to feel too guilty.

Wade didn't seem to notice as he rubbed his stomach. "We're on day ten of Thanksgiving leftovers. Last night was turkey pot pie."

"That sounds pretty good."

"It was, actually. I keep saying I won't have to eat for a week after eating what I did, but I continue to indulge. Ah, well." He glanced at me. "How about you?"

"About the same." I gazed up at the house. "Are you excited? Ready to finally knock this thing out of the park?"

"You bet I am." But he didn't move, just stared at me with a look of concern.

When he didn't look away, I set my tool chest down on the blacktop surface of the driveway. "You're staring and it's starting to freak me out. What's wrong?"

If anything, his concern deepened as his eyes narrowed in on me. "That was going to be my question. Is everything okay?"

I hedged a little. I guess I wasn't quite as good at hiding my odd mood as I thought I was if my own foreman could tell something was off. "Of course. Why not?"

"Come on, Shannon. First of all, you're never late for work. And second . . . I don't know. Something's going on with you." He picked up my tool chest with no effort and started to walk toward the back of the house.

Scowling, I rushed to keep up with him. "I just hate being late, that's all. I would've called but I was running around."

"Yeah? I tried to call you but there was no answer."

I pulled out my cell phone and noticed an unanswered call. "I didn't hear the phone ring."

He stopped. "Something going on I should know about? Why were you running around?"

"It's nothing." I sighed. I wasn't about to confess what was really going on with me. He wouldn't be able to keep it to himself and I would never live down the embarrassment of everyone in town knowing that my pitiful little heart was breaking. So I simply told him the truth about the morning's main activity. "Robbie ran out of the gate and took off for the beach."

Wade's eyes widened and he stopped and gripped my arm. "But you found him, right?"

"I did, thank goodness." My adorable West Highland terrier, Rob Roy, otherwise known as Robbie, had never wandered off before. I had spent fifteen distressing minutes hunting him down. Luckily all my neighbors knew who the little white dog belonged to and some of them helped me find him. The chase had set me back fifteen minutes, so that was why I was late. And why I was cranky earlier. Well, along with the aforementioned heartbreak silliness, but I was doing my best to ignore that.

"Thank God," he murmured. Wade and his kids were big Robbie fans.

"It's just not like him to run off and disappear like that," I said, moving forward toward the house. "I was terrified. I think Mrs. Higgins's decorations set him off. They blink and light up the sky all night long. Maybe the holidays are getting to him as much as they're getting to me."

He shot me a sideways glance. "But you've always loved the holidays. Especially Christmas."

I waved away his words. "I know, I know. I love Christmas, blah blah blah."

He laughed. "Yeah, you're really full of the old holiday spirit."

"Sorry." I shook my head and shoulders like a wet dog, hoping I could fling away this funky feeling. "Don't worry, I'll get into the swing of things." I hoped so, anyway. With a frown, I pressed my hand to my forehead. "Maybe I'm coming down with something."

"You'd better not be. This job's going to wind up being a twenty-four-seven gig, so we've all got to stay in top shape."

I grinned. "Yes, boss."

But then he stopped and pointed at me. "Right there."

"What?" I demanded.

"It's like I said." His eyes narrowed as if he were studying a strange life form. "There's something else going on with you."

"No there isn't." I kept walking, nipping that particular conversation thread in the bud.

We reached the house and climbed the steps up to the veranda. As I headed for the door, Wade grabbed my arm. "Shannon, wait. I'm sorry I was being nosy."

"You were being a friend." I smiled at him. "You never have to apologize for that."

"I appreciate it." His own smile faded. "I had a reason for calling you earlier. I wanted to tell you about Frank. He's not going to be here."

"Why not?" I stared up at him. "Is he okay? What happened?" Frank was one of my favorite contractors and a great guy.

Wade scowled. "His wife's company just transferred her to San Diego. Frank is thrilled. He's packing up their house and moving next week."

"Oh no! That's terrible." I winced. "I mean, that's great for them. But now we need another contractor."

"I know."

He set down my tool chest and we both pulled our tablets out of our bags. I swept my finger across the screen. "Shoot. I had him in charge of overseeing all the work on the third floor attic. We'll have to reorganize the team leaders."


My shoulders slumped as I slid the tablet into its case. "He didn't even call to say good-bye."

"Probably couldn't bear to hear the disappointment in your voice."

I cracked a reluctant smile. "You mean he was too chicken to call."

"That's what I told him." He leaned against the wall. "Seriously, though, it's a real drag to lose him."

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Deck the Hallways 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best Christmas ever. The only problem is it is too short.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this. Christmas miracles are so uplifting. Thanks to the author and the team!
BeagleGirl123 More than 1 year ago
Perfect cozy read for the holiday season! Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle finds Shannon Hammer and crew renovating an old Victorian mansion that is being divided into apartments for needy families in Lighthouse Cove, but the surly manager of the bank that owns the property is wreaking all sorts of havoc around town and at the site. Good thing it doesn't take long for someone to murder him, but unfortunately they do it with Shannon's father's axe! Add in an abandoned baby and 10 Santas, and you've got a fast-paced and clever mystery! 5 stars to this 4th installment in the Fixer-Upper Mystery series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Between books I forget how much I love her work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed every minute of this book. Suspense was balanced with heartwarming characters.
KittyCalico More than 1 year ago
Awesome! Love the series and looking forward to the next one. Thank you Ms. Carlisle!
momelaine More than 1 year ago
Another good Fixer Upper story. This one started out with Shannon having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Which I don't understand since it is my favorite time of the year. But then we find out that Mac has not called her since he left and she doesn't know what's up. Then someone is murdered on her project. How can things be so bad at Christmas? This book didn't make me want to rush to find out the end, I just enjoyed the story. It took me a while to read but that was just me and what has been going on. It was a more comfortable story than the other books have been. And the ending was fantastical but fantastic!
charleneC More than 1 year ago
I love all the fixer upper mysteries, Kate Carlisle is a wonderful expressive writer! I always enjoy her books! thank you Kate for another great story!
Jani8 More than 1 year ago
In the latest entry of the Fixer Upper series, Deck the Hallways, finds Shannon Hammer, general contractor, in charge of a huge charity project by the Holiday Homebuilders. The local bank has given one of the area’s largest and most beautiful Victorian mansions in the area, to be turned into numerous apartments for people that are down on their luck. The trick is to make the rooms over without destroying any of its charm and historical value, and to have it done by Christmas Eve for the town’s holiday celebration. The senior Vice President of the bank is making horrible threats to almost anyone he runs into, including Shannon’s Dad, Jack. He stirs up trouble wherever he goes, so it is not surprising that he winds up dead. There are too many suspects that “wanted to kill him” including Shannon’s father. Add to this mix a newborn baby left in Shannon’s truck, the Santa Brigade, and what’s up with Mac? All-in-all a super book!
SewWrite More than 1 year ago
Shannon Hammer is busy working on a large volunteer project to fix up a huge Victorian mansion and turn it into apartments fro homeless families. As if that isn't enough to keep her busy, her father shows up on the job to help. Unfortunately the dead body of a much hated man turns up in the apartment her father is working on after the two men have a very public argument. This story is full of twists and lots of Christmas fun.
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Dollycas’s Thoughts After recently reading and reviewing, Crowned and Moldering, I couldn’t wait to dive right into this story. I was taken aback when I heard Mac was off on a promotional trip and had not even picked up the phone to contact Shannon for over 40 days. What the heck happened between stories? Wait I am getting ahead of myself. It is the holiday season in Lighthouse Cove and Shannon has taken the lead on a huge charity project. An old Victorian mansion is being transformed into housing for the homeless. Contractors and volunteers join together to get the project completed by Christmas Eve. A group of Santa’s helpers complete with the black boots, beards and red suits even show up to help. The president of the bank managing the funding seems to always be underfoot and soon after the project starts he and Shannon’s father, Jack get into a bit of a fight. When the president is found dead Jack finds himself in the hot-seat as there were plenty of witnesses to their argument. Shannon is on the case to clear her dad of the crime and unwrap the true killer before it is time to jingle those bells. So you see Shannon has plenty on her plate but she can’t stop thinking about Mac and why he hasn’t called or texted. I thought their relationship was starting to move forward so this kind of distracted me a little bit from the mystery at first. I don’t want to spoil anything so I will leave this topic alone for this story. Setting the romance aside, there were several new characters introduced. Mr. Potter, the bank president, until he met his untimely demise. He was a character that was very easy to dislike. Several volunteers including one who didn’t really seem to fit in and who kept disappearing. Several “Santas”, who truly helped on the project. All of our favorites from previous stories return too, well with the exception of Mac who finally arrived near the end of the story. Man, I just can’t seem to let that drop. I do love the setting, another grand Victorian with all the grandeur waiting to be restored and a few secrets that houses like it always seem to have. I would love to have one of my own. We were close to owning one early in the 80’s. I wish we would have made the major purchase but it needed more work that be were ready to take on at the time. Ms. Carlisle gave us another challenging mystery to solve with plenty of red herrings, twists and turns. I figured it out right along with Shannon. I did love this story with that little exception I mentioned earlier. Yes, I really missed Mac, darn it, I did I won’t deduct a star for my distraction, but I hope the next installment starts out a little better on the romantic front. This is another captivating cozy from Kate Carlisle, all kidding aside, I recommend it and the whole series very highly.
Robbiebee More than 1 year ago
Shannon Hammer just can't seem to find her Christmas spirit. Even though she's heading up the renovation of an old Victorian mansion into small apartments for the less fortunate, aided by local volunteers, including several jovial Santa's and helping to plan the local Christmas celebration, she'said having trouble getting into the holiday. Things get worse when the local banker is found dead in the mansion. Kate Carlisle has brought another delightful mystery complete with enchanyting, lovable characters and plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing to the end. A great holiday read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cgenna1 More than 1 year ago
Murder at The most wonderful time of the year! If you love Christmas time, mysteries and murder this is the book for you! The cover and title will put you in the spirit of the holiday and at the same time want to read with a pause. Kate Carlisle entertains you and endears you with her book four in the “Fixer-Upper Mystery”. DECK THE HALLWAYS is part of a series; however you will be able to read this story as a stand-alone. Kate creates characters that I connect with like her heroine Shannon Hammer doing what she loves, with humor, love and adventures with murder. A smart, written story line with constant change that kept my interest so much so I did not want to put it down. What’s more fun solving a crime at Christmas time! I looked forward and waiting patiently for the release of DECK THE HALLWAYS! I like this book the best so far in this series. I LOVE that the story takes place at Christmas time and I wasn’t able to figure out who the murderer was until the end.
emmabrace19 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this holiday-themed 4th installment of Kate Carlisle's Fixer-Upper mysteries! The murder plot was complicated as per usual, but the focus was really on the Lighthouse Cove community and how they came together to fix up a historic home for the holidays! The story was sweet and I really enjoyed it. It's perfect for a cozy afternoon or evening on the couch. My only complaint was that I was miffed that there was a lack of Mac for the first 2/3 of the book but that was quickly resolved. Never underestimate the power of love... or Whitney Reid Gallagher! I received a free copy of this book for an honest review; all opinions are my own.
BMarquart More than 1 year ago
Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle is the perfect holiday escape. The book begins with Shannon Hammer trying to find her Christmas spirit while working on remodeling a house for charity. A number of Lighthouse Cove residents, including the Santa brigade are volunteering their time and talents to get the work done by Christmas Eve. The story includes a murder mystery and a second mystery involving a baby. If you need a break from the holiday hustle and bustle, relax with this entertaining tale. As a member of Kate's Raters, I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
ShelliKing More than 1 year ago
I love Kate Carlisle books. Love them. Love them, love them love them! I love that her heroines have remarkable, interesting jobs in fields that aren't typically feminine. I love that each series is incredibly detailed regarding those fields. I have learned so much about carpentry and book binding since I found her books. Shannon Hammer is back! This time she's leading a diverse crew of contractors and volunteers to convert a stately old Victorian mansion into low income apartments. When one of her contractors suddenly leaves town for an opportunity out of state, her father Jack steps up with his buddies to fill the void. Once again, Shannon stumbles upon a very dead body. Murdered. Unfortunately, this time her father is implicated. Can she help the police find the real killer and keep her father from being accused? You'll have to read it for yourself. Sorry. No spoilers here!
GBSfan More than 1 year ago
As the title would suggest, Deck the Hallways takes place just before Christmas. However, the holiday spirit hasn’t visited Shannon Hammer yet. Her blooming romance with Mac Sullivan has been on hold for months while he’s been out of town. First he was on the set of a movie adaptation of one of his books. Then he had a book tour for his latest thriller. That wouldn’t have been so bad, but he hasn’t contacted her once in all that time. Even though she’s not quite in the mood, Shannon Hammer is coordinating various construction crews and volunteers for The Holiday Homebuilders charity. They are turning a neglected Victorian mansion into apartments for homeless individuals and families. And the work needs to be done by Christmas Eve. But the work is halted when a mean-tempered banker, who has had run-ins with half the people in town, is found dead in the parlor. Worse is that it’s the area where Shannon’s father is working. And where he got into a huge argument with Mr. Potter, the banker. Further complicating matters, Shannon discovers a newborn baby left in her truck. Once again, Kate Carlisle populates Lighthouse Cove with lots of colorful characters. While acknowledging that even an idyllic place like Lighthouse Cove can contain people who are down on their luck, they are treated with compassion and respect. It’s refreshing to read about positive, helpful people. And the mysteries are fun to unravel, too. Can’t wait for the next installment.
Guinnessgirl39 More than 1 year ago
I was given an advance copy and was asked to give an honest review and that is not hard to do. One of the things I love most about Kate Carlisle's books is that her heroines are women you want to be friends with and women you know that young girls can look up to. With that being said, Shannon is in charge of renovating an old Victorian mansion into apartments for homeless people. Unfortunately the bank executive in charge of the renovation is a for lack of a better word, dirtbag, who ends up dead in one of the rooms that her dad is renovating with her dad's ax in him. There is quite the cast of characters surrounding Shannon, who is trying to juggle everything while proving her father's innocence. Can Shannon untangle the mystery of the old Victorian? Can she keep her dad from going to jail? Will she be able to work things out with Mac? What's with all the Santa's? And what about the baby?! The only way to answer the questions is to get your copy of Deck The Hallways and enjoy a great read!
3303 More than 1 year ago
I received an advanced copy of this book and asked to leave an honest review. I love the Fixer Upper Series and Kate Carlisle. Deck The Hallways is a fun, suspenseful, full of Christmas season spirit!! Lighthouse Cove is like visiting old friends who are always there for you!! Shannon,Mac and Jack are lovable characters!! Will Shannon be able to help Jack before Santa arrives ???
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An enjoyable, fun murder mystery centered around Christmas; add a dash of romance, and it's wrapped up with a heartwarming ending! It is a stand alone book even though it's part of a series.
LeiLaniHauge More than 1 year ago
I devoured this book the same day I received it. Easy to read, likeable characters and a plot that kept me guessing to the last moment went perfectly with a cup of hot chocolate on a lazy afternoon. I won't give spoilers as I think it's an injustice to the new reader. I will tell you that Ms. Carlisle is a masterful storyteller, who weaves a colorful array of characters, places and murder in a way that makes me a loyal fan. Shannon Hammer, our heroine in this series, is a strong, independent woman who loves her family, friends and old homes. She is someone you'd love to have a cup of coffee and chat with. So, I suggest you do that. Invite Ms. Hammer into your life for a few hours and read The Fixer-Upper Series. You deserve a few hours to relax with a good friend.
bp124 More than 1 year ago
Kate Carlisle has once again written a winner! She knows how to write that grabs you at the first page and keeps you riveted until the last. Shannon Hammer , a contractor, has been awarded the project of transforming a big old Victorian mansion into apartments for homeless families. The project is a big one and not without its problems, the biggest being a murder and her father being accused of it. I don't want to give anything away but let's just say there are lots of twists and turns, interesting characters, and also feel good moments that go on before the end of the book. Kate Carlisle has written a wonderful story that is a quick read to make you feel good at the holiday time. Don't miss out on this one!
DianeD54 More than 1 year ago
This is another great addition to a series I love! Kate Carlisle knows how to hook you from the first page. Her descriptions are also something to be experienced because she makes it so vivid you feel like you are right there.
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
Nothing like a bit of Christmas with a mystery. Lighthouse Cove is really getting into the spirit of the holiday with Shannon’s construction crew heading up a project for Holiday Homebuilders. They are revamping a local Victorian house into apartments for low income residents, with volunteers and contractors eager to help. An unpopular bank manager, tasked with keeping an eye on things, has run-in after run-in with most of the characters before his demise, about halfway through the book. Appropriately named Mr. Potter, just like one of the biggest baddies in Christmas lore, no one is too sorry about his death. Even with all those red herrings, the second half of the book flows a bit faster, with the residents, Santas and police hard at work to conclude everything before Christmas.