Predictable, predictable, predictable. That’s the one word to describe spackled and SPOOKED the second novel in the Do-It-Yourself mysteries by Jennie Bentley.
In this installment, Bentley brings back Avery Baker the former New York designer who had inherited her Aunt Inga’s house in Waterfield, ME and has now decided to live there. As the novel begins, she is now actively involved with local handyman, Derek Ellis, and the two have developed a business together where they renovate houses.
Derek has found a perfect house on the other side of town but there’s one problem. Years earlier it was the scene of a murder/suicide and has been vacant since its allegedly haunted and Avery’s not sure if they’ll have a chance of selling the house once renovated.
Of course both don’t believe in ghosts but there are some eerie things going on inside the place-for instance the sound of breathing and footsteps (and the screams at night when no one is around). They ask the neighbor Venetia Rudolph if she’s heard screams throughout the years and she denies hearing any, but the nosy neighbor has seen people come and go throughout the years.
The mystery begins when Avery finds an earring hidden behind the stove and Derek unearths a human bone in the crawlspace of the house. Then Venetia is found murdered in her home the next day.
That’s pretty much the storyline and you really don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out a) who the bones belong to, b) who killed the nosy old neighbor and c) who the killer is. Once I figured it out I should have leapt to the ending but I had hoped the story would have somehow progressed.
What I’ve discovered about Bentley’s writing is once she finds a gimmick she pretty much stays with it. For example, in the first installment, whenever Derek talked he would always say “yeah?” after something. I’ve never been to Maine but I do know that some regions of New England would talk this way. In this installment he doesn’t do it, but everyone seems to talk over their shoulder.
Another problem with this (and the debut novel) is Bentley spends too much time describing the homes and how Avery’s going to decorate them. You get so bored with it that you forget you’re reading a mystery.
There’s no suspense whatsoever and even though I can’t balance my checkbook I’ve had no problem figuring out the killers were. Something must be wrong.
And since this now a part of the Do-It Yourself- Mystery line there are some tips at the end for creating some of the projects Avery’s working on.