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Fatal Fixer-Upper by Jennie Bentley
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Fatal Fixer-Upper

by Jennie Bentley

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Avery Baker is a fabric designer at a high-end company in New York. When she receives a mysterious letter from a great-aunt she hasn't seen in years, she heads to Maine and discovers that her aunt has passed away and left her everything. She decides to stick around and fix up the house before selling it, but finds herself interested in more than renovation when she picks up the trail of a killer determined to keep a secret.

Some of this book felt rather cartoonish. The flamboyantly French Phillipe, historical objects being smuggled in through tunnels, and - naturally - the hunky handyman, but all of it worked to pull off a fast-paced, fun little mystery. Avery is maybe a trifle scatter-brained, but genuinely likable, and the cast of characters was great.

The only time I stumbled was when this exchange took place, between Derek (hunky handyman) and herself:

"Derek quirked a brow. 'And when you need two-by-fours from the lumber depot? How are you gonna get those home?'

I wasn't entirely sure what two-by-fours were, but presumably they were too big to carry. 'Ask them to deliver?'

...

'Bet you have a car, though.'

'A Ford F-150,' Derek corrected. When I looked blank, he clarified, 'It's a pick-up truck.' " (74).

I will admit that I grew up in construction and in Texas, so two-by-fours and F-150s are part of the local vernacular. That said, really? When I quoted that part to my boyfriend, he wrinkled his brow and asked, "Is she an alien...?".

Not to mention, she's a designer. She specializes in textiles, but she mentions that she took some interior designing classes, as well, and not once in that time she learned what a two-by-four was? Has she never watched any variation of CSI on TV where a man is bludgeoned by a two-by-four? Never flipped through a home renovation project show?

The author, Jennie Bentley, was clearly trying to highlight how out of her depth Avery is, but there are so many better examples than two-by-fours and F-150s. Derek could have asked if she knew what rabbited lintels were or knew what a soldering iron was. Instead, it's two of the most common things to ever exist.

I soldiered past that, however, and thankfully things got better. There's a side plot where the flamboyantly French Phillipe turns out to have a secret of his own - pretty obvious, but funny nonetheless - and there's a small red herring at the local school. The other complaint I had, however, is that they literally identify the murderer about 260 pages in and outline every single one of his/her schemes and how he/she did it, but then are surprised when - guess what! - he/she turns out to be the murderer 40 pages later. Even before that, it was fairly obvious who it was, but still a fun romp to get there.

There is also a bit at the end on home-decorating tricks, which could turn out okay, but I have to question Avery's tastes. It appears Pinterest and its obsession with all things renovated and hideous has escaped the confines of the Internet and landed in a book. Some examples of Avery's "brilliance" include:

- a piece with "the distinctive arched and scrolled backrest and carved gilt-wood frame. My fabric, by contrast, was hip and modern, with a pattern of overlapping lipstick kisses in three shades of pink" (2)

- a "reproduction of a rococo chaise lounge" that is "upholstered in eye-popping shades of bubblegum pink, lemon yellow, and orange, with black trim and tassels" (5)

- her own couch, which is "oyster silk blend with black piping, printed with cross sections of enormous black and green kiwifruit" (8)

These all sound like something that could be found in a freshman's dorm room. In other words, not classy. I was wincing at the description of gorgeous furniture being upholstered in, apparently, the tackiest fabric one could imagine. Though Avery assures the reader that all of these things looked great, I cannot imagine a world where this would not be reviled. Maybe because I didn't live in the 70s.

All in all, however, this book is fluff. It's not great fluff, but it's kind of cheesy and fun and there's some good bits. ( )
  kittyjay | Jan 2, 2016 |
I love this book and the idea of the series! Mystery and Interior Design together? Genius! (at least to me, being in Interior Design.) I admit that the culprit of the crimes in the book became evident quite early on, but the layout of the plot, and the different character developments were great. When I saw the design tips at the end of the book, I was ecstatic! Great idea for a book, and I'll definitely plan on reading the others. ( )
  Dnaej | Mar 14, 2014 |
I love this book and the idea of the series! Mystery and Interior Design together? Genius! (at least to me, being in Interior Design.) I admit that the culprit of the crimes in the book became evident quite early on, but the layout of the plot, and the different character developments were great. When I saw the design tips at the end of the book, I was ecstatic! Great idea for a book, and I'll definitely plan on reading the others. ( )
  Dnaej | Mar 14, 2014 |
This was a nice summer read! It wasn't very suspenseful, but I didn't mind that in this book. It was a quick read that seemed to have a leisurely pace to it. The budding romance between Avery and Derek was a nice addition, and not distracting to the storyline. Looking forward to the next installment. ( )
  dukefan86 | May 29, 2013 |
I love this book and the idea of the series! Mystery and Interior Design together? Genius! (at least to me, being in Interior Design.) I admit that the culprit of the crimes in the book became evident quite early on, but the layout of the plot, and the different character developments were great. When I saw the design tips at the end of the book, I was ecstatic! Great idea for a book, and I'll definitely plan on reading the others. ( )
  Dnaej | May 21, 2013 |
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The letter from Aunt Inga arrived, as the saying goes, a day late and a dollar short.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425224570, Mass Market Paperback)

First in the new Do-It-Yourself mystery series!

Avery Baker was once a New York designer, but inheriting her aunt?s old Maine cottage has led her down a new career path?home renovation. Now, with help from hunky handyman Derek Ellis, Avery starts learning the ABCs of DIY. But when the designer-turned-renovator finds clues that lead to a missing professor, she wonders if she can finish the house?without getting finished off in the process.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:46 -0400)

With the help of a hunky handyman, Avery Baker, a former New York textile designer, begins fixing up her aunt's crumbling estate, until she discovers clues that lead to a missing local professor, in this first installment in a new mystery series that features home-renovation and design tips.… (more)

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