Dead Bolt is the second book in Juliet Blackwell’s A Haunted Home Renovation series. Mel Turner is a former archaeologist who moved back home when her mother died and took over her father’s construction/renovation business. Mel takes on old historic homes and restores them to their former glory by finding and restoring old fixtures or contracting people to remake them. She also has a habit of seeing ghosts.
Mel is working on a new house renovation where strange things keep happening. In addition to things mysteriously moving around in the house, home owners who refuse to move out of the basement while construction is ongoing, a crocheting old neighbor is making Mel’s life difficult by jumping in front of her car, and then he ends up dead. Mel must finish her contracting work, solve the neighbors murder, rid the new house of its ghost, and figure out how all these problems feed into each other.
Once again Juliet Blackwell turns out an excellent tea cozy mystery with a dash of the paranormal. I really enjoy all of the home renovations stuff, it is fascinating to me. I love fixing stuff up and refurbishing things, so I am quite taken with the level of detail about the construction work. This may not be for everyone, but I find the historical aspect of the renovation and the work done to be just as fun as the mystery. Mel always seems to stumble across complicated past mysteries that are connected to a current murder, which is not all that surprising since she can see the ghosts and only gets involved when they make her life more difficult.
Speaking of ghosts, in this book the Blackwell introduces the malevolent kind, and people are hurt because of it. Adding a dash of tension, to the cozyness of the mystery, the ghosts who are out to harm Mel seem to also be able to possess(ish) people. They amplify the energy of the people in their vicinity and interesting scenes are replayed from the past into the present, helping Mel to dig deeper and hopefully solve the mystery before the ghosts run everyone out of the house. A quick and interesting read, Dead Bolt is just what the doctor ordered for all those Sunday afternoons you don’t want to deal with the crowds at the beach or are stuck in your homes because of three feet of snow blocking the door. I quite enjoyed my little escape into Mel’s world, where everything really does go wrong for a time, and honestly, seeing or reading about other people struggling always makes my days a little brighter. . . . That came out wrong.