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This Old Homicide: A Fixer Upper Mystery Book Excerpt - Chapter 1

Are you a fan of the Fixer Upper Mysteries series? Enjoy more of Kate Carlisle’s storytelling with the first chapter of her book “This Old Homicide: A Fixer Upper Mystery.”


Chapter One

“It’s a monstrosity, isn’t it?”

I gazed at the massive structure before us and hid my dismay with a bland smile. “No, not at all. It’s . . . beautiful. In its own way.”

“You’re a terrible liar, Shannon,” my friend Emily Rose said. “But I appreciate your attempt to make me feel better.”

We both stared at the three-story multigabled, over- spindled, gingerbread-laden . . . monstrosity—there was no better word for it—she’d just purchased. The old Victorian house was shrouded in shadows, making it appear even more forebidding than it might’ve been if even a smidgen of sunlight had been allowed to peep through the thick copse of soaring eucalyptus and redwood that surrounded the place on three sides. This wasn’t the time to mention it, but I planned to suggest a good tree trimming once Emily closed the deal.

“What have I done?” Emily moaned softly. Her soft Scottish accent was thicker than usual, probably because of the stress of deciding to buy a house and then doing so in less than two days.

To be honest, the place was magnificent—if you overlooked the obvious: peeling paint, broken shutters, slumping roof. All of that was cosmetic and could be magically transformed by a good contractor. Luckily for Emily, that was me. I’m Shannon Hammer, a building contractor specializing in Victorian home renovation and repair. I took over Hammer Construction Company five years ago when my dad suffered a mild heart attack and decided to retire. I had grown up working on the grand Victorian homes that proliferated along this part of the Northern California coastline, and I couldn’t wait to get started on Emily’s.

For many years, Emily had been living in the small but pretty apartment above the Scottish Rose Tea Shoppe she owned on the town square in the heart of Lighthouse Cove. Over the last few years, though, the square, with its multitude of fabulous restaurants and charming shops, had become such a popular destination spot that she’d decided it was time to find a quieter place to live. When an uncle back in Scotland had died and left her some money, Emily decided that with property values being what they were, now was a good time to buy her first home.

She had announced her major purchase earlier today, after gathering together our small circle of friends in the back room of her tea shop. We met there regularly because it was so convenient. Lizzie Logan’s stationery shop was just a few doors down, and her husband, Hal, was always willing to man the register when she needed some girl time. Jane Hennessey, my best friend since kindergarten, could walk over from her place two blocks away. Marigold Starling’s Crafts and Quilts shop was a quick stroll across the square. My house was close enough that I could walk to the tea shop, too, on the days I did paperwork at home. More often, I drove in from one of the construction sites, careful to slap off as much sawdust as possible before I entered the ultra feminine domain.

“Champagne?” I’d said when I walked in and saw the yummy spread and the expensive open bottle in Emily’s hand. “What’s the occasion?”

“You’re getting married!” Lizzie said, clapping her hands. She was the only married one in our group, so she continually pushed the rest of us to find a guy and pair up. She persisted in matchmaking despite some rather deadly recent results.


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