Absence of Mallets (A Fixer-Upper Mystery) - book cover
  • Publisher : Berkley
  • Published : 07 Dec 2021
  • Pages : 304
  • ISBN-10 : 0593201337
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593201336
  • Language : English

Absence of Mallets (A Fixer-Upper Mystery)

Contractor Shannon Hammer steels her nerve to pin down a killer in the latest Fixer-Upper Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Premeditated Mortar. . . .

Shannon could not be happier that her hunky thriller-writing boyfriend, Mac, has moved in, and it is a good thing they are living together because they are both busier than ever. Mac is hosting writing retreats at his now vacant lighthouse mansion, while Shannon and her crew build Homefront, a quaint Victorian village of tiny homes for veterans in need. Mac's latest guests are proving to be a handful though, and Shannon has heard some grumbling from the luminaries of Lighthouse Cove about her latest passion project. But nothing can throw a wrench in their plans except a malicious murder.

When one of Shannon's new friends is found brutally bludgeoned with a mallet near the lighthouse on Mac's property, the couple hammers out a suspect list and searches for a motive. As they drill deeper for clues, more violence strikes and a new victim winds up in a coma. The pressure is on, and Shannon and Mac will have to move fast to find an unhinged killer dead set on demolishing anyone who gets in their way. . . . 

Readers Top Reviews

Jana R. BuxtonGahaKi
Can't wait for the next! Characters are great, and have good chemistry. Always lots of surprises. Never a dull moment.
Linda M. Mcmillin
This mystery was more than just about a murder. Kate wove a truly heart warming story about what is going on in our day and age.
I enjoyed this one a lot but I did figure out much of the plot. I rarely do with her books but the bad ones were just too nasty in this book. This is well worth reading.
Chocolate Thumper
I have read both series by this author and love all of the books. This story features details about what a tiny house includes and how they benefit veterans. The writer’s workshop at the lighthouse manor adds lots of twists to the story. Looking forward to the next book in both series.
Library Kat
In this latest volume in the Fixer-Upper Mystery series, Shannon and Mac have to deal with another murder while building tiny homes for military veterans and dealing with Mac's latest writer retreat group. I love the character interaction as well as the information Kate incorporates into the story that builds more empathy for people who need a helping hand. I read this series as much for the characters' relationships as I do for plot. I'm already looking forward to rereading this book!

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter One

Coffee. The aroma was calling my name and nudging me out of a deep, dreamless sleep. Still, I lingered under the covers for a moment, wishing I could stay for another hour and savor the quiet warmth. Through the fog, though, I managed to remember that my day was going to be insanely busy. I had to get up.

Besides, there was coffee.

And there was Mac.

That did it. I threw back the covers and stumbled to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face.

After brushing my teeth and taming my wild mop of red hair back into a single braid, I dabbed on some moisturizer and lip balm, then stared at my image in the mirror. For a few wonderful seconds, I reflected on how much my life had changed over the past eight months. That was how long it had been since Mac Sullivan and I had been living together. I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to wipe that happy smile off my face.

I dressed quickly and rushed downstairs to the kitchen, where I was greeted with ecstatic barking from Robbie, my West Highland terrier, and an affectionate head bop from Tiger, my orange marmalade cat.

"Good morning, creatures," I said, and bent down to give Robbie a brisk belly rub. Mac's silky black cat, Luke, sauntered into the room just then, looking like a tiny panther on the prowl. "I didn't forget you," I murmured, and gave the newcomer a light scratch under the chin.

I stood up and there was Mac. He was leaning against the counter by the coffeemaker, holding a fresh cup of coffee and grinning at me.

He seemed pretty darned happy these days, too. Setting the cup down, he walked over and pulled me into his arms. "Good morning, beautiful."

I wrapped my arms around him and held on, breathing him in. After a long moment, I leaned back to smile at him. "Good morning yourself. And bless you for making coffee."

He reached for the cup and handed it to me. "You're welcome, sleepyhead."

I took a big, life-affirming gulp of strong coffee, then checked the clock on the stove. "It's barely six o'clock. How long have you been up?"

"About two hours." He grabbed his own cup and took a sip. "I woke up with this crazy idea for a turning point and needed to get it written down while it was still in my head."

Mac, also known as MacKintyre Sullivan, was the author of a hugely successful thriller series starring the dangerous and hunky former Navy SEAL, Jake Slater. That was a description I could easily ascribe to Mac as well: dangerous, hunky, and a former Navy SEAL. He had recently started his twelfth book in the series, and this one featured an elaborate plot to kidnap the woman Jake had fallen in love with and ransom her for the American nuclear codes.

Together, we gathered up the makings for a quick breakfast-granola, yogurt, and berries-while he told me his crazy idea, which included a bombing and a car chase. I thought it was brilliant and exciting and not crazy at all. We each had another cup of coffee and then talked about our plans for the day.

"You've got your new writers' group arriving today, right?"

He grinned. "Yeah."

When Mac moved in with me all those months ago, he'd made the decision to turn his own home, the historic lighthouse mansion three miles up the coast, into a writers' retreat. The venerable Victorian mansion had been lovingly restored by me and my crew. My name is Shannon Hammer, and I'm a contractor specializing in the Victorian style that our town was famous for. Mac's mansion was a particularly beautiful example, comfortably furnished, with six bedrooms and an idyllic location right on the beach by the old lighthouse. It had a wide front porch with a stunning view of the ocean and was perfect for a quiet getaway for serious writers.

In anticipation of groups of curious writers visiting every week, Mac had asked me to start refurbishing the famous old lighthouse next door to his home. It had been decommissioned last year by the coast guard. Since Mac owned the property, he was told that he could do whatever he wanted to do with it, but he wasn't about to paint it pink or something. Not after all he'd been through with the town's planning commission and the historical society. No, he was determined to keep the lighthouse looking as gleaming white and as beautifully tall and dignified as it always had been.

But the fact was, the old structure needed some serious rehab work.

My foreman Wade and I had gone through every inch of the space with Mac and had made a lengthy list of the repairs and changes we would need to make before the lighthouse could be reopened safely.

I planned to bring the lantern and lens room back to its original rustic style, and rebuild and reinforce the main gallery-otherwis...