Melanie Turner has made quite a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. But now her reputation may be on the line. At her newest project, a run-down Pacific Heights mansion, Mel is visited by the ghost of a colleague who recently met a bad end with power tools. Mel hopes that by nailing the killer, she can rid herself of the ghostly presence of the murdered man - and not end up a construction casualty herself....
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This is pretty lightweight, but it makes a pleasant diversion for summer listening - good choice for the June 2-for-1 credit offering. It doesn't require a long time commitment.
I don't mean this in a bad way. There's a place in most of our reading lives for the modern "cozy" with a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, a bit of humor, and a little bit of information about historic restoration and history. I won't mention a bit of occult, because the "ghost" plot line in "If Walls Could Talk" is basically just silly. I don't know if Blackwell intends to expand this aspect in future books of the series, but it's not taken at all seriously here.
I got this book because the synopsis read similar to the "Haunted Guesthouse" novels by EJ Copperman. I'll lay out those similarities first:
-- Both have women who are handy (taught by their dads) and go to renovate an old Victorian. -- Both women realize they can see and communicate with ghosts while in the home. -- Both are mystery novels in which the ghosts they find need help solving their murders. -- Both have narrators with irksome tendencies.
That said, it was an enjoyable listen, though it never quite seemed to take off, and sort of tumbled to its resolution. We meet up with Mel Turner as she heads over to see the aftermath of a DIY demolition party. She arrives, someone dies, and the tale begins.
I won't spoil things, but this book is partly set up to have Mel discover how she gained her abilities. Frustratingly though, the reader is likely to figure it out before her because she seems very uninterested and often changes the subject quickly when someone is spilling the beans on her "condition" and things that relate to it. As more and more pieces fall into place, I found myself not caring since I'd figured it out already. Move onto the mystery!
As for the actual mystery, it's your typical whodunnit with Red Herrings all over the place, which all mostly get resolved in one very odd scene which prompts another very odd scene. Mystery solved, but didn't feel all that fulfilling. I didn't feel like I was part of the "learning" process -- well, scratch that, you are, but the things you "learn" don't really help solve the mystery. In the end, Mel gets "determined", figures it out on her own, and the book ends. Sort of a let down.
As for the narrator, she's sort of the opposite of EJ Copperman's reader (Amanda Ronconi) in that instead of being whiny and annoying, she sounds like she's trying to be seductive and sultry. Listening in the car became hard as her sentences all seemed to be read in one breath. She'd start out loud and end the sentence in a breathy whisper. The voices of all the male characters sounded like guys on their deathbeds. I never quite got used to it.
In the end, the tale was OK, not great. What has lead me to decide to skip the next entries in the series (at least for now), however, is the narration alone. Middling interest in the tale, plus an annoying narrator means no credit spent for me.
If this book sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to check out EJ Copperman's "A Haunted Guesthouse" series. At least that has humor.