A Bat In The Belfry: A Home Repair Is Homicide Mystery

bySarah Graves

Mass Market Paperback | April 1, 2014

A Bat In The Belfry: A Home Repair Is Homicide Mystery by Sarah Graves
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When it comes to home repair, Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree  is a fervent wielder of power drills and paint brushes. And when catching criminals, she’s been known to really bring down the hammer. But when a shocking murder rocks the small town of Eastport, Maine, Jake may be the next victim for whom the bell tolls.
 
It is nearly midnight when the enormous bell in the belfry of All Faith Chapel—silent for decades—booms forth, startling awake the entire town of Eastport. Upon inspection of the steeple, the police uncover the body of local teenager Karen Hansen, who had climbed the belfry’s dark, rickety stairs for a midnight rendezvous. But instead of the promise of an exciting new life, Karen meets her death.
 
Meanwhile, as an epic nor’easter bears down on the idyllic island town, Jake Tiptree hurries to shore up her ramshackle old house against the big blow. An amateur detective, she has sworn off chasing criminals. But when the news of Karen’s murder spreads and much of the evidence points to Jake’s likable houseguest, she and her sleuthing partner, Ellie White, get to work.
 
They discover an unexpected ally in newcomer Lizzie Snow, a woman from “away” who seemed to have blown into town with the nor’easter, and who also seems to know a lot about the mind of a killer. Can Jake and Ellie trust her? As a killer roams free and the townsfolk struggle against the pounding, screaming storm, the resulting tempest of gossip and suspicion rivals anything the Atlantic could brew up—and threatens to keep Jake and Ellie from putting the final nail in this cold-blooded case.
 
Complete with Home Repair Is Homicide repair tips!

Praise for A Bat in the Belfry
 
“Stylishly suspenseful.”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 
“Nobody else can take a home repair project and turn it into a first-class mystery the way Graves can. It’s a top-of-the-line story.”RT Book Reviews
 
“Graves does the Down East region justice, nailing not only the scents, sounds, sights, and people, but the culture. . . . It doesn’t hurt that she’s a damn good storyteller, to boot. [Her] prose is sharp, smart, and witty.”Crimespree Magazine

Praise for Sarah Graves and the Home Repair Is Homicide series
 
“Graves’s trademarks are edgy, traditional mysteries peppered liberally with humor, and sprinkled with layered, well-written characters.”—Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author of One Was a Soldier
 
“Just hearing her list the ways you can kill yourself fixing up an old house . . . is a hoot.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“What distinguishes the novel are its likable, no-nonsense protagonist-narrator, her references to home repair that the author cleverly fits tongue-and-groove into the story and, especially, the detailed descriptions of the town.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Graves makes rehabbing shutters and other chores suspenseful.”The Boston Globe
Sarah Graves lives with her husband in Eastport, Maine, in the 1823 Federal-style house that helped inspire her books. This series and the author’s real-life experience have been featured in House & Garden and USA Today. She is currently at work on the first novel in her new mystery series, Winter at the Door, to be published...
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Title:A Bat In The Belfry: A Home Repair Is Homicide MysteryFormat:Mass Market PaperbackProduct dimensions:400 pages, 6.9 X 4.2 X 1.1 inShipping dimensions:400 pages, 6.9 X 4.2 X 1.1 inPublished:April 1, 2014Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345535006

ISBN - 13:9780345535009

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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Read from the Book

CHAPTER 1“Carolyn, if you’re going to lie to me, you could at least make it a good one,” Chip Hahn said sorrowfully into the phone.He sat by the window in the upstairs front guest room of the big old house on Key Street, looking out at a late-night view of Eastport, Maine. Through the wavery antique panes in the elderly wooden windows, the full moon seemed to wobble liquidly.Or maybe that was because he was seeing it through tears. Angrily he swiped them away, then closed his hand reflexively on the rabbit’s foot hanging from a thin chain on his belt loop.Not, he realized miserably, that the talisman he’d carried around for years was going to give him any good luck tonight. How could it? After all, it wasn’t as if he hadn’t known what he was getting into, becoming involved with Carolyn.In the blue-white moonlight downhill beyond the houses of town, Passamaquoddy Bay was a pewter-colored disk. Above, a plane’s contrail streaked thinly northeast through the indigo night, the aircraft itself already racing out over the Atlantic.“Carolyn?” Two miles distant across the bay on the Canadian island of Campobello, a car’s headlights appeared, then vanished.“Carolyn, are you still there?”She said something in reply, but he couldn’t make out what. He’d forgotten how poorly his cell phone worked here in remote downeast Maine; his city phone plan was wrong for the area. But he hadn’t wanted to use the landline. Someone in the house might pick up an extension and overhear this conversation.Its tone, especially: the ragged pain in his own voice, which he tried to hide, and the carelessness in hers, which she didn’t. The CD player on his laptop played the Roche sisters’ first album, nearly as old as he was but in its wry lyrics and harmonies the perfect background music for him now.“I had dinner and then a few drinks with Siobhan,” Carolyn went on unconvincingly. “It got late, she let me sleep on her couch. End of story, okay?”Through the window, he watched clouds begin streaming in gauzy tatters over the moon. Something ugly was coming, according to the weather forecast he’d heard earlier. Something . . .“Chip?” The leafless branches of the ancient maples lining Key Street were elongated fingers, reaching out for something they could never have. Like me, he thought miserably, still clutching the rabbit’s foot.“Yeah,” he said. “End of story.” But of course it wasn’t.Silence from Carolyn, who after two days of not answering her cell or responding to his messages had at last taken his call. Now he imagined her sitting cross-legged in the oversized leather easy chair he’d bought for their apartment in Manhattan, a year ago when they’d first moved in together.Her slim frame clad in a black leotard and a smock dress--the purple corduroy one, maybe, now that it was November and getting chilly--and her glossy dark hair falling in waves over her shoulders, she would be tapping her long nails impatiently on the chair’s soft leather arm. Her high-heeled boots would be on the thick Persian rug nearby, probably, flung where she’d shed them.“Have you eaten lately? I mean today?” he asked. She wasn’t lazy, and she could be very well organized. But Carolyn had never learned to take care of herself.She had him for that. “No,” she said guiltily. “But I will. Chicken and corn, maybe. And a baked potato.”Yeah, right. The idea of her cooking a meal for herself in his absence, let alone a decent one, was beyond far-fetched. More likely she was subsisting on takeout until he got back.If she was even eating that. But he didn’t press it. “Sounds good,” he told her instead, not wanting to start a quarrel. “Drink some fruit juice with it,” he advised, knowing she wouldn’t do that, either. In her simple obduracy Carolyn was like a stone, impenetrable unless you wanted to crush it, or break it.And he’d never wanted to. After nearly three years’ working together, he as the researcher and she the writer of a string of bestselling true-crime books, they’d become a couple, and Chip had briefly thought his life was complete. Even before they began sharing the same address he’d imagined them curled together in the leather chair, large enough to hold them both comfortably.Just how comfortably, he had also pictured in considerable detail. But once it was delivered, Carolyn had claimed the chair as her own, her pointy knees and sharply jutting elbows fencing it off from him silently but definitively.“Chip? You believe me, right? About last night?”His hand felt cramped. Tucking the phone awkwardly in the crook of his neck, he heard the signature opening fanfare of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno coming on in the background at her end.Good old Carolyn, the original multitasker. “Sure,” Chip said, absently worrying the cuticle on his right thumb. “Like you said, you were at Siobhan’s.”This too was improbable, however. Siobhan was Carolyn’s editor, and in that role had proven to be an honorable, reliable friend. But she was about as likely to have a writer sleeping on the sofa in her elegant apartment overlooking Gramercy Park as she was to have bedbugs infesting it.“I believe you,” he said, since what good would it do to say otherwise? Carolyn was in Manhattan, over five hundred miles away, and he was here visiting his old friend Sam Tiptree in a place so different from the city, it felt like some other planet.“Good.” He heard relief in Carolyn’s voice. It was this faint whiff of her caring that he clung to, knowing she depended on him not to give up on her or forsake her. He’d never done that either, even when he’d known her only as his employer, the writer of crime literature.Which it was: What she wrote was never just another hack job on yet another wife-murder, child disappearance, or greed-fueled parent-slaughter, turgid tomes mixing sex, cash, and subnormal IQs to predictably gory effect. Instead, word by word and sentence by carefully crafted sentence, she presented the human elements behind the headlines, delicately and in their subtlest colors.It was what he’d loved first about her, this freakish genius she had for communicating the emotions and motives of others while--the tragic irony of this did not escape him--possessing almost no insight into her own. But there was more.Much more. Even now, if he’d been there he’d have gathered her in his arms, brushing aside the jutting knees and the sharp little elbows, and that would’ve been the end of it. For a long time her mercurial side had seemed a small price to pay for the rest of it.All the rest of it. “You should get some sleep,” he told her gently. “You’re okay? You’re going to be able to?”Sleep, he meant. She wasn’t any better at that than she was at eating, when he was away.He heard her put her drink down on the low marble table that had been her only contribution to the room’s decor, the little click of the glass striking stone. Even that had been grudging; if he’d left it to her they’d still be using stacked milk crates.“I’m okay.” Then: “Chip?”“Yeah,” he exhaled. All the rest of it . . . which he’d adored, and still did. The trouble was, something was changing. And in the week since he’d been away from her it had gotten worse, this feeling of not being able to bear the few things he didn’t adore.A lot worse. “Chip, could you do me a favor? Call up Maury Cahill for me, ask if I could go in and see him for a minute?”Chip felt his mental eyebrows rising; Cahill was a criminal lawyer specializing in the kinds of scandalously illegal antics rich people’s kids got up to, keeping them out of Rikers and off the front pages of newspapers.Maury’s son had been Chip’s classmate at prep school; they still got together for a beer once in a while. But why might Carolyn need his old school pal’s dad?“It’s for a friend,” she assured him hastily but unconvincingly. Still, if she or her “friend” needed a lawyer, she had picked a good one.And a request from Chip would indeed produce the desired appointment. So he agreed to phone Maury Cahill in the morning, then made a mental note to check in with him again later in the day. The old attorney wouldn’t violate any oaths, but if Carolyn was in real trouble he’d probably give Chip a general heads‑up.“Thanks,” said Carolyn. “I’m sorry I didn’t call you.”“Right.” He knew she was sorry. That wasn’t the point. “Get some rest. Just . . . go on to bed. You’ll be all right tomorrow.”Would he be, though? The trouble was, he was beginning not to be sure how much longer he could take the situation before something bad happened. He drew his gaze from the moonlit rooftops, skeletal tree shapes, and the few warmly lit windows still visible in the village of Eastport at this late hour, and from the metallically gleaming bay. Here in this room the softly hissing radiator and the wallpaper’s faded florals lent the sense that everything might still be fine, that he could get through this somehow.His shirts and slacks hung on hangers in the tiny closet

Editorial Reviews

Praise for A Bat in the Belfry   “Stylishly suspenseful.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   “Nobody else can take a home repair project and turn it into a first-class mystery the way Graves can. It’s a top-of-the-line story.”—RT Book Reviews   “Graves does the Down East region justice, nailing not only the scents, sounds, sights, and people, but the culture. . . . It doesn’t hurt that she’s a damn good storyteller, to boot. [Her] prose is sharp, smart, and witty.”—Crimespree MagazinePraise for Sarah Graves and the Home Repair Is Homicide series   “Graves’s trademarks are edgy, traditional mysteries peppered liberally with humor, and sprinkled with layered, well-written characters.”—Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author of One Was a Soldier   “Just hearing her list the ways you can kill yourself fixing up an old house . . . is a hoot.”—The New York Times Book Review   “What distinguishes the novel are its likable, no-nonsense protagonist-narrator, her references to home repair that the author cleverly fits tongue-and-groove into the story and, especially, the detailed descriptions of the town.”—Los Angeles Times   “Graves makes rehabbing shutters and other chores suspenseful.”—The Boston Globe