Bantam, Dec 2001, 24.95, 276 pp.
When Jacobia “Jake” Tiptrec divorced her New York City surgeon husband, she and her son move to Eastport, Maine, (population 2000). She finds a fixer-upper and becomes an expert on household repairs. Her son straightens out and becomes involved in wholesome activities. Jake meets the perfect man, at least for her, and remarries.
Most of the local inhabitants are law-abiding citizens with the few bad seeds known by all. Jake and her best friend Ellie visit Fay Anne Carmody, a spousal abuse victim. They knock on the door, but no one answers so they enter the house only to find Faye Anne's husband dead with his body sliced into pieces and wrapped inside butcher paper. Faye Anne claims no memory of the deed, but police believe the evidence that proves otherwise. Only Jake and Ellie assume their pal is innocent and set out to prove just that.
Using local vernacular and a gothic-like atmosphere, WRECK THE HALLS turns into one of the better New England amateur sleuth tales of the year. The audience will admire and adore the wholesome protagonist while the support cast, especially her son and her friend, provide depth to a stupendously serpentine story line. Sarah Graves is a powerful mystery writer.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner