Review

A Face at the Window: A Home Repair Is Homicide Mystery

by Sarah Graves

Jake (who never uses her real name, Jacobia) Tiptree's true love
is working on her dilapidated fixer-upper in the remote island
village of Eastport, Maine. With her handyman father off on his
honeymoon with Jake's acerbic housekeeper, she has decided to
tackle chipping out and replacing her crumbling cement walk. With
her husband, Wade Sorenson, Eastport's harbor pilot, off on a job,
and her best friend Ellie in Italy with her husband, Jake would be
all alone if she weren't babysitting Ellie's three-year-old
daughter, Lee.

But Jake is distracted from her life by an unwelcome intrusion
from her past. Ozzie Campbell, the man who murdered Jake's mother
when Jake was a toddler, is ready to stand trial…and he's
gone on the lam. Jake is concerned because she has learned that
Campbell read her victim's impact statement right before he
vanished. She knows and likes Eastport police chief Bob Arnold, so
she doesn't hesitate to tell him that she's terrified Campbell will
come after her. Bob, however, believes that Jake is overreacting.
He can't imagine that anything in Jake's statement, which recounts
events she remembers from being three years old, would be so
threatening to Campbell that he would harm Jake. Jake actually
agrees with Bob's thoughts, at least in her head. Yet somehow, deep
in her gut, she knows she is in imminent danger.

Meanwhile, a troubling narrative from Anthony, a young man on a
trip to Maine with his bizarre-acting acquaintance, Marky, lets the
reader know that something ominous is definitely in the works:
"Discovering that Marky Larson had brought a gun…changed
everything for Anthony Colapietro." Marky has a plan, given to him
by an unnamed person. Anthony has nothing but regret for being on
this caper with Marky, but he doesn't doubt that Marky would just
as soon kill him as look at him if Anthony doesn't do his every
bidding.

When Jake goes to the hardware store to pick up sidewalk
concrete and a trowel, the store owner, Tom Godley, tells her that
two strangers had come in with a picture of her and asked questions
about her. Godley, of course, reassures Jake that he told them
nothing. And yet Jake feels the opposite of reassured. Who could
the young men be, and could they be connected to Campbell?

Jake's feelings of unease are nothing, though, compared to the
panic she feels when she goes to pick up little Lee at her
babysitter's house. Helen, the babysitter, doesn't answer the door.
When Jake explores the house, she finds it empty. The sunporch, the
room Helen keeps the children in during nice weather, is in a
shambles as if there's been a struggle. As Jake's heart drops
sickeningly, her phone rings. It's Ozzie Campbell with an ominous
message.

Meanwhile, Helen's voice is heard. She's terrified, bound and
gagged, in the back of a car next to Lee, who has been drugged.
Helen knows their kidnappers, who have made no attempts to disguise
themselves, plan to murder her. Her mind flashes back to the
survival techniques her stepfather has tried to instill in her. Can
she somehow figure out how to save Lee and herself?

Sarah Graves has upped the ante in this episode of her usually
excellent A Home Repair is Homicide series, crossing over
from mystery to thriller. Although the identity of the perpetrator
is apparent early in the story, several scenes are so suspenseful,
so pulse-quickeningly terrifying and exciting, that the plot feels
like a rollercoaster ride. Fair warning to readers: After the
kidnapping, prepare to abandon your real life in order to read this
stellar suspense story through to the end. A FACE AT THE WINDOW
will truly satisfy Graves fans and should attract many new
ones.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (terryms2001@yahoo.com) on January 21, 2011

A Face at the Window: A Home Repair Is Homicide Mystery
by Sarah Graves

  • Publication Date: December 30, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0553806793
  • ISBN-13: 9780553806793