Bantam, Jan 2005, 22.00, 288 pp.
Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree still lives in Eastport on Moore Island seven miles off the coast of Maine where she still is fixing up her 1823 Federal home. In a raffle, she won the housekeeping services of Bella for several weeks, but the woman acts loony driving Jake's household crazy. When Jake confronts her, Bella says she has been receiving death threats letters left in her home; she thinks her ex-husband Jim Diamond, just released from jail for forging checks, is the culprit.
Jake and her best friend Ellie visit Jim but when they get to his apartment, he keels over on Jake. Someone caved in his head with something heavy. Jake and Ellie decide to find out who did the deed because the State Police believe Bella is the guilty party as she had motive, means and opportunity. Besides Bella, her daughter, Jake's son ex-girlfriend, and the town banker who was scammed by him, wanted him dead. Their sleuthing comes to the attention of the killer who decides Jake and Ellie will be the next victims.
TOOL & DIE is a very exciting amateur sleuth mystery due in part because readers get to see Jake as a wife, mother and daughter as well as a snoop. There are practical easy to follow home repair tips scattered throughout the book. It is obvious the author knows about home repairs and the instructions she gives will prove useful to homeowners. There are a lot of suspects with motives making it very difficult to decide who the murderer is even with a few good clues sprinkled throughout the entertaining amateur sleuth plot.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner