This will be one of my favorite new series this year! Dead as a Door Knocker appeals for many reasons, including the protagonist, Whitney Whitaker. She works at least part time for her uncle doing upgrades and other carpentry work as well as for a realtor overseeing repairs for managed properties. Her sidekick and roommate is Sawdust, the littlest kitten of his litter, who absolutely adores Whitney. The mystery is complex and challenging, and the author’s trademark humor is LOL funny. Whitney evicts three college guys who stopped paying their rent on a home. She was upset with the damage they left. She couldn’t hide it from the home’s owner, who decided to sell the house. Because he knew Whitney, he would give her a great deal on it. When she heard the price, she knew she and her cousins could do most of the work to enhance its natural beauty and sell it quickly for a good profit. With the loan requirements complete, they begin the work. Because of the costly tools and material they would have in the home, Whit will stay there at night. She packs up a bag and Sawdust, prepared to stay. While relaxing the first evening, the fire alarm goes off, barely allowing her time to find Sawdust and escape wearing her rubber ducky jammies and slippers. Days later, with the roof replacement underway, Whit works in the yard to put colorful flowers in front. She was to meet the former owner of the home there the prior evening for business yet to be completed, but he never showed. When she finally left that evening, Whit found an envelope with the necessary docs on the porch. The next morning, Sawdust is with her when she works in the garden…and makes a horrifying discovery. Just beneath the surface of the garden lies the dead body of the former owner of the home…and the nosy neighbor pointed the police towards a huge hammer Whit had somehow left outside all night as the likely weapon. What a fine mess this house flip has become! I love that little Sawdust! The characters, including Sawdust, are very well depicted with loving, hard-working family members and Whitney’s work family, the owners of Home and Hearth. Whit and Buck have clearly been close through the years with their easy banter and how well they work together. I am very impressed by how the author writes about Sawdust, including the chapters dedicated to reflecting his feelings and his true cat-sonality. The “demons” he fears reminds me of the “monsters” my own cats try to escape. Whit tries to determine who the real killer is, as the detective acts as if she may have done the deed. Whit is certain that her home inspector, Bobby, was involved, as she heard him on the phone with what sounded like his bookie, and he needed fast money. Did the former owner bribe him to keep the faulty wiring out of his report and not get enough? Maybe the owner’s biggest property management competitor is behind it, since he wanted to get his hands on the property. There are several plot twists that shuffle the suspects but simply don’t bring the right person to light. I was stumped, and totally surprised when seeing who the killer really was, and why. It was not someone I had considered at all. The end is satisfying, with all loose ends tied up. I highly recommend this clean, fun cozy to fans of the author and anyone who enjoys cats and property management or construction. From a grateful heart: I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley, and this is my honest review.
Dead as a Door Knocker takes readers to Nashville, Tennessee where Whitney Whitaker lives in the tiny guesthouse on her parent’s property with her adorable cat, Sawdust. She puts her business degree to work at managing properties for clients of Hearth & Home Reality and keeps her construction skills sharp working part-time for Whitaker Woodworking. Whitney is hoping to start selling real estate once she obtains her license. Whitney is a smart, interesting and spunky woman. When Rick Dunaway offers to sell a home to Whitney at a good price, she jumps at the chance. She knows it is a good investment, but Whitney cannot afford it on her own. Thus, enters her cousin, Buck Whitaker. Whitney should have known that Rick had an ulterior motive. When Rick turns up dead in the flower bed and Whitney is without an alibi, the new homicide detective believes he has a slam dunk case. But Whitney is not going down without a fight. I like how Whitney with the aid of Buck and her friend, Colette nose around for information. The mystery is multifaceted. There are a couple of potential suspects and good clues to help readers identify the guilty party. I enjoy Diane Kelly’s writing style. I was drawn into the story and I kept reading until I finished it. We get to know Whitney along with her family and her best friend. I am happy that the author took the time to establish our main character. I especially enjoyed the chapters written from Sawdust’s perspective. They are entertaining. I found myself laughing as Sawdust described the “demon” that zips around the floor (robot vacuum cleaner). Dead as a Door Knocker is a good start to A House Flipper Mystery series (4 out of 5 stars). Dead as a Door Knocker has relatable characters, home renovations, a caring family, good food, a dead body and an adorable cat.
This is an entertaining cozy mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed. Whitney is a wonderful character that drew me right in. I loved that she's in a non-traditional female job and how she approaches life on her terms, no matter what obstacles she faces. I'm also looking forward to seeing more of Colin, the police detective. If you enjoy the genre, you will love this book. I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series and seeing how the relationships develop over time. Put this one on your TBR list.