Thursday, April 29, 2021

Book Review: A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle

A High-End Finish (Fixer-Upper Mystery, #1)A High-End Finish (Fixer-Upper Mystery #1). Kate Carlisle. Obsidian (2014). 311 pages. Genre: Cozy Mystery.

First Line: "'You could've warned me that installing drywall would be hell on my manicure.'"

Summary:  Shannon Hammer runs a successful home-renovation and repair business that specializes in restoring Victorian homes. She has lived in Lighthouse Cove most of her life.  Like many small towns, everyone knows everyone else's business.  Shannon doesn't mind.  She sees it as part of the charm of living in a small town.  Shannon's good friend, Lizzie, is happily married and wants all of her friends to be too, so she routinely sets them up on blind dates.  Shannon finally succumbed to Lizzie's persistence and has agreed to meet Jerry Saxton for dinner.  After a nice dinner with good conversation, Jerry suggests a walk on the beach.  

After strolling along the beach for several minutes, Jerry's demeanor suddenly changes and he becomes aggressive.  He insists that Shannon owes him something since he paid for dinner.  Shannon disagrees and tries to fend him off.  When Jerry doesn't take "no" for an answer Shannon kicks him hard in the shin.  Fortunately, there are some people on the boardwalk not far away.  Shannon yells for help and finally two men come to her aid and lift Jerry up off the sand.  Shannon and Jerry continue to hurl insults at one another as the men attempt to drag Jerry from the beach.  The last thing Shannon says is, "I'll kill you if you ever come near me again."

After a fitful night of sleep, she gets a phone call from one of her clients.  He and his wife are out of town and a neighbor called them to let them know they could hear water running inside the residence.  The client asks Shannon if she could go check it out.  She goes immediately.  As she enters the house she hears the water running in the basement.  As she makes her way to the basement, she trips over something.  That something was the arm of a man - a dead man.  Unfortunately, that arm belongs to Jerry Saxton.  

My thoughts:  I really wanted to like this one.  I liked the idea of a charming lighthouse town filled with Victorian homes worked on by our protagonist.  However, I didn't find the town or the protagonist all that charming.

Shannon Hammer took over her father's business after he had a heart attack.  She is a hard worker, her employees respect her and she knows quite a bit about construction and restoration.  However, in her interactions with others she is crass and petty.  She often resorted to name-calling. This book contains more profanity than many cozies and much of it came from Shannon's mouth. This did nothing to endear her to me.  It wasn't until more than half-way through the book that I found myself liking her at all. 

The mystery itself had me curious.  I wondered who had killed Jerry and if his behavior with Shannon was an isolated incident or a regular practice.  As the story unfolded, there were several people who may have had a motive. I did pinpoint the culprit before Shannon and the police put things together. 

The one character that I did like as soon as he came on the scene was Mac.  He is an author who is new to town.  He is friendly, curious and goes out of his way to help Shannon.  

Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me and I won't be continuing the series.  However, other reviewers have enjoyed this book and the characters in it.  So, if it sounds intriguing to you, don't hesitate to give it a try.


  1. It's a shame you didn't like the book, Gretchen. I honestly don't remember Shannon being crass or petty in that first book, but I have to admit that it's been quite awhile since I read it. She's certainly not that way now. I stopped reading another series written by Carlyle because one of the characters drove me up a wall, so I certainly understand where you're coming from.

    1. I'm glad to hear that she is not that way in later books. I had read many good reviews of this series and was hoping to like it. But, with the length of my TBR, I am just going to move on!