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A High-End Finish: 07/10/21
A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle is the start of the Fixer-Upper mystery series. Shannon Hammer is a contractor and carpenter specializing in keeping the Victorian homes of Lighthouse Cove, California, ship shape. After a disastrous blind date she finds herself a person of interest in the murder of a notorious womanizer.
When there's a fictional town in a series, especially one set near where I live, I can't help but wonder where the town would fit relative to its real world counterparts. Lighthouse Cove being in Northern California, and implied north of San Francisco, having beach access, and its proximity to Oregon, there are four towns that seem to have been the inspiration. First is Point Reyes for the light house but it's not really a town. Second is Arcata which has the historic homes and access to the beach but doesn't have a lighthouse. Next is nearby but landlocked Ferndale. It has the highest number of Victorian buildings but none of the other features. Finally there's Crescent City which has the lighthouse and beach access but not the historic buildings.
Regardless of where Lighthouse Cove is, it has a strong sense of self contained place. Kate Carlisle builds a convincing town, one that influences the characters and the plot. Shannon Hammer's specialized skills ring true and give her an excuse to have access to crime scenes and potential murder weapons.
I recognized who the killer was when they were first introduced but it took me a while to figure out their motive. A quick reveal of the criminal isn't necessarily a bad thing for me. Here I found the rest of story compelling. There's a lot of adventure and danger. There's also some good smoldering chemistry between Shannon and the man who buys the lighthouse.
The second book is This Old Homicide (2015).