Review

A Bat in the Belfry: A Home Repair Is Homicide Mystery

by Sarah Graves

A huge storm is on the way as murder and mayhem ensue in the tiny island town of Eastport, Maine. Visiting is Sam Tiptree's good friend Chip, who is miserable. His girlfriend in the city continues to give him the run-around. She is unavailable by phone and then, when Chip finally is able to talk with her, tells him unconvincing stories about where she has been. Even worse, she asks him to get her an appointment with the criminal lawyer who Chip happens to have an "in" with. When he presses her, she assures him that it is for a "friend."

"Author Sarah Graves ably juggles a large cast of characters, weaving together several separate plots into a united whole without discombobulating her readers. The latest addition to the A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery series holds up well, delighting fans with an intriguing puzzle, well-drawn characters, and an irresistible setting."

Meanwhile, Sam is also having difficulties with women. He adores Maggie, a local long-time friend who has become a romantic partner. However, fun-loving and extremely attractive Carol Stedman has decided that Sam is the guy for her…and Sam is finding it increasingly impossible to even want to fend off her advances. Eastport being the tiny town that it is, Maggie knows of Sam's dalliance. Naturally enough, she is not happy and doesn't mind sharing her displeasure with him. Carol texts him continuously, asking him to come party with her while Maggie calls to speak with him. Finally, exasperated and overwhelmed, he shuts his phone off and goes to the kitchen for a late night snack. Looking out the window, he sees Chip out for a stroll in the dark.

Fourteen-year-old Karen Hansen climbs the bell tower of one of Eastport's churches. It is night-time dark and spooky in there, but Karen has a goal. If she can climb to the top and flash her flashlight, she will win a bet and gain $50. Karen sorely needs that cash in order to flee Eastport and the terrible home she shares with her drunken father. However, this is the last night --- the last hour --- of Karen's life.

Eastport is rocked by the news of Karen's murder. A witness comes forward. Lizzie Snow has arrived in Eastport, unraveling clues to a mystery of her own. After she describes the man she saw in the vicinity of the church, the local police decide that Chip is the murderer. Both Sam and Jake know that Chip would never do such a thing…but then why did Chip lie about his whereabouts while the murder was taking place?

Lizzie is searching for a particular lost person, but meanwhile finds someone else who has long since disappeared from her life --- someone she believed would always be lost to her. Dylan was once the most important part of her life, but their relationship was complicated and ended badly. She has mixed feelings about encountering him once again here in Eastport. When he offers concrete help in solving her personal mystery, though, she can't resist.

Author Sarah Graves ably juggles a large cast of characters, weaving together several separate plots into a united whole without discombobulating her readers. The latest addition to the A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery series holds up well, delighting fans with an intriguing puzzle, well-drawn characters, and an irresistible setting, as well as Jake Tiptree's pithy musings on the repair of her money-pit house and her amateur detective capers. It all adds up to yet another delightful and entertaining read.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on May 3, 2013

A Bat in the Belfry: A Home Repair Is Homicide Mystery
by Sarah Graves

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0345535006
  • ISBN-13: 9780345535009