Review

Crawlspace: A Home Repair Is Homicide Mystery

by Sarah Graves

A famous author of true crime stories named Carolyn Rathbone and
her assistant, Chip Hahn, arrive in Eastport, Maine on the hunt for
her next book topic. She is interested in the gruesome Dodd
murders, a notorious event for the small town. Although the
murderer, Randy Dodd, evidently drowned, she has reason to believe
he is actually alive and that he will talk to her. As they stop at
a restaurant, Carolyn gives poor Chip some unwelcome news. Her
editor, breaking his confidence, revealed to her that Chip has a
unique idea for a novel. Carolyn tells him that she is going to
steal his idea. Since she’s famous and he’s not, she
will have a better chance of actually publishing the book.

Chip is infuriated. He had planned to quit working for Carolyn
as he is the one doing all the research and much of the actual
writing of the books for which she is famous. And as a thank you,
Carolyn treats him like dirt. As their meal concludes, Carolyn has
downed a considerable amount of booze --- and then heads to a
nearby bar for even more, with Chip trailing behind and wincing as
Carolyn brags about her books and attempts to pump the bartender
for information on the Dodd case. But as angry as Chip is with
Carolyn, he is devastated when the two of them leave the bar and
she somehow vanishes.

Chip happens to have a couple of friends in Eastport; he knew
Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree and her son, Sam, when they
lived in New York. Jake is now in the middle of one of her many
house remodeling projects in her antique house. While working, she
muses on her strained relationship with her housekeeper Bella, who
has recently become Jake’s stepmother. Her labors and
thoughts are interrupted when Chip calls from the police
department. When Jake meets up with Chip and hears of
Carolyn’s disappearance, she begins to worry about Sam, who
has not come home at all during the night. Sam has had problems
with alcohol and drugs in the past, but he’s been clean for
some time. It’s unlike him to stay out all night, and Jake
begins to think the worst has happened.

Meanwhile, readers are privy to Carolyn’s side of the
story as she awakens, bound and gagged. When her captor carries her
onto a surface that rocks gently, she realizes she is now on a
boat, headed out onto the ocean. She is in pain and in despair,
knowing that she will no doubt be killed soon…and that
she’s helpless to stop it.

Back in Eastport, Jake and Chip have received some very bad
news, and they can’t ignore its ominous implications. They
plan to team up, but things go awry when he vanishes into thin air
just like Carolyn and Sam.

As the plot twists and turns, author Sarah Graves ramps up the
suspense to an almost unbearable level (readers should be warned
that it may be well nigh impossible to close the book once
they’ve reached the middle of the story). A particularly
appealing subplot follows the relationship between Jake and Bella,
Jake’s new stepmother --- just one example of the satisfying
ways in which characters change and develop in CRAWLSPACE.

The latest addition to the Home Repair is Homicide
series is truly a page-turner. This is a rare example of a series
that, although very good from the beginning, continues to improve
with each book. CRAWLSPACE and 2008’s A FACE AT THE WINDOW
are especially gripping and suspenseful. Very highly
recommended.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on December 28, 2010

Crawlspace: A Home Repair Is Homicide Mystery
by Sarah Graves

  • Publication Date: December 29, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0553806807
  • ISBN-13: 9780553806809