Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Hammers and Homicide (Hometown Hardware Mystery, #1) by Paula Charles


Hammers and Homicide
A Hometown Hardware Mystery
Paula Charles

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting - Oregon
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: January 16, 2024
Hardcover ‏page count: 280 pages
ISBN-10: 1639105999 / ISBN-13: 978-1639105991




Perfect for fans of Kate Carlisle and Victoria Gilbert, when a body is found in a hardware store, will Dawna Carpenter’s sleuthing measure up to find the killer?

Recent sexagenarian widow Dawna Carpenter thought running her own hardware store after the death of her husband was hard enough. With her adult daughter, April, moving back into town, and Darlene, the annoying boutique owner next door to her shop poking around, Dawna has her hands full. But when she finds a dead man in the bathroom of her store, with a framing hammer by his side, she’s in way over her head.

The victim, Warren Highcastle, was a land developer who was looking to purchase the old theater in town to build a new hotel. Dawna and April, worried about the implications of the crime scene at the hardware store, put themselves on the case. They soon learn that Warren had made quite a few enemies in his short amount of time in town. As the suspect list starts growing, so too do the threats against Dawna and April. Can Dawna and April nail the killer before they strike again?




5 stars!

Excellent debut of a new cozy mystery series with a touch of the paranormal! 

Welcome to Pine Bluff, Oregon, the idyllic setting of Hammers and Homicide, the first novel in author Paula Charles’s new cozy Hometown Hardware Mystery series! In this excellent debut, long-time resident and small business owner Dawna Carpenter works with her youngest daughter, April, to discover who committed murder in their family-owned hardware store. Not only has a family friend been wrongly accused of the murder, but the investigation and tragedy could put Carpenter’s Corner permanently out of business. 

The story is told in first-person from the viewpoint of Dawna herself and what a kind and interesting person she is. A widow of three years, Dawna has a secret past of seeing or sensing the presence of the dearly departed, and she suspects her beloved husband, Bob, is keeping an eye on her, though he has yet to manifest himself so she can see him. I liked how the author has Bob communicate his presence to Dawna through the scents of coffee and sawdust and the occasional and fleeting glimpses in her peripheral vision. I loved that Lilac, the cat, was still visiting at night. Dawna is slowly working through her grief, and you can almost feel her love for her lost husband. I enjoyed how she held frequent conversations for him, in case he was there listening, and she realized her actions may look crazy to her children. However, April realizes that unlike what her elder sister and brother told her, her mother still has all her faculties about her. 

The murders are committed at the hardware store, and the scene is shut down until the perpetrator is brought to justice. Mother and daughter are compelled to investigate when they feel the police chief is going in the wrong direction. Their reasoning for getting involved felt legitimate, and they did a pretty good job of stirring things up to prompt the killer to show their hand. The killer was someone that I’d pegged early on but couldn’t quite piece together a solid motive on my own. The big reveal is tense and dramatic, with a surprising twist in its resolution. 

As this is the first book in a new series, the author must do all the heavy lifting of world-building, creating the small town of Pine Bluff, and providing backstories for the main characters. A lot of information is woven into the story, and I thought the author introduced just the right number of townspeople, neighbors, business owners, and city officials to make the town real and robust without dragging the story out unnecessarily. When all was said and done, I was still left with a strong desire to find and try Pine Bluff’s famous barbeque french fries. 

I recommend HAMMER AND HOMICIDE to cozy mystery readers, especially those who like a touch of the paranormal in their stories or small-town settings in the Pacific Northwest.


When Paula Charles isn't writing under the towering trees of the Pacific Northwest, she can be found in the garden with her hands in the dirt or sitting on her front porch with a good book and a glass of iced tea. She has a love for small towns, ghost stories, and pie. Paula lives on a small farm in Southwestern Washington with her patient husband and a handful of furry and feathered critters. Paula also writes cozy mysteries under the pen name of Janna Rollins.


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Michael Law said...

This looks like a great mystery. Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

Paula Charles said...

Thank you so much for such a thoughtful and in-depth review. My eyes are tearing up a little right now. I'm delighted you enjoyed Dawna and your time in Pine Bluff! Thank you for featuring Hammers and Homicide on your blog today!