This Old House
meets Murder, She Wrote
in this Sarah Graves mystery set on the coast of Maine. Jacobia Triptree, onetime financial advisor to the Mob, finds her quiet retreat shattered by the unwelcome discovery of a dead man in the Victorian pile she is in the midst of restoring. That he has an ice pick in his forehead only confirms her suspicion that the death was brought about by something other than natural causes. When her closest friend, Ellie, confesses to having done the deed, Jacobia is convinced she is lying and determines to save Ellie from herself by finding the real killer.
The victim turns out to be a local boy who'd done well enough to be featured in the pages of Fortune magazine. Ellie's ostensible reason for her uncharacteristic violence is that he bankrupted her parents. Between bouts of waterproofing the basement and replacing floor joists, Jacobia sets out to find a more believable motive and murderer.
The mystery itself is not that complicated, and as Jacobia digs deeper under her house and into the past, the truth eventually surfaces. Graves sufficiently amuses, however, with delightful characterizations of Jacobia's former connections and the local heroes who assist her in her projects of rescuing Ellie and putting her house together. Jake's asides regarding the stock market, as well as the details of home restoration, also provoke the occasional smile. Graves is at her best delineating the tension between the small town's good guys and the federal investigators (and tourists) from far away. A gentle read, despite the shadow of the Mafia, and entertaining enough for bedtime diversion. --K.A. Crouch
From Publishers Weekly
With the advent of amateur sleuth Jacobia Tiptree, Eastport, Maine, could become as deadly as Cabot Cove. Having left the daily grind of her job as a financial adviser in New York, Jake, as she is known to her friends, has settled in an old house in Eastport with her teenage son, Sam, away from her annoying ex-husband, the brain surgeon. When Jake discovers a dead man in her storeroom, an ice pick stuck in his head, her tranquillity is up-ended. Her friend and neighbor, Ellie White, starts acting strangely and then confesses to murdering the man, one Threnody McIlwaine, an old friend of Ellie's father and a ruthless corporate raider. Jake is quickly convinced that Ellie is protecting someone?perhaps her vicious mother or her father, who was ruined by McIlwaine?and despite threats to her own well-being continues nosing into the dead man's past. In her polished debut, Graves blends charming, evocative digressions about life in Eastport with an intricate plot, well-drawn characters and a wry sense of humor.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.