Repair to Her Grave, by Sarah Graves

If you remove the relative abundance of death from this installment of the Home Repair is Homicide series...what you are left with is very nearly a Cozy Mystery. Nearly. It all starts out simply enough: it’s summer in Eastport, which means it’s time for some projects around the house. Add in a wall that won’t stay plastered, a son spending his last summer before college getting SCUBA certified and diving for treasure, an ex-husband who is still painfully aware that the only reason he’s not still incarcerated is because of his ex-wife, a best friend/next door neighbor who will happily help with anything you need, an upcoming meeting of the Eastport Ladies Society (in Jake’s home, no less), and an unexpected houseguest...and you’ve got the start for a very interesting few months.

But you can’t forget the ghost. The one that has vaguely haunted the house since Jacobia moved in. The one whose every action can be explained by a draft or something equally innocuous. The ghost who is supposed to be the original owner of the house - a famous violinist who disappeared over a hundred years ago, leaving behind a handful of compositions and a minor mystery: a stradivarius... The ghost who is the reason for this new houseguest (who shows up humming one of the tunes that Sam unearthed in that last book.)

So of course people are falling off cliffs. Falling? Or being pushed? And because of the water, their bodies aren’t being found. There is lots of local turmoil as tourist season kicks into high gear (Lobster Festival, anyone?) amidst these unfortunate accidents. People are coming and going and it’s hard to keep track of just who might be sinister and who is merely odd...until, of course, it isn’t anymore.

Graves has a gift, people. I keep eeking these out so I don’t run out of new installments. They are multi-layered and filled with real-life drama - in addition, of course, to the amateur sleuthing that’s always going on. Graves acknowledges situations that other (lesser) writers take for granted: of course the small town would talk about how Jake and Ellie are almost better at solving murders than the police are. Of course life doesn’t stop just because some stranger wandered into town and fell (or was thrown) off a cliff. Those old ladies are still going to show up at your house exactly at the time on the invitation and they’ll want their tea hot and their sandwiches crustless, thank you very much.

This is the sort of thing, after all, that keeps us coming back for more.

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