Jazzi Zanders, along with her cousin Jerod and her husband Ansel, is starting work on their new fixer-upper, a house that reminds her of an English manor in the small college town of Merlot, Indiana. It was originally owned by members of a prestigious family that passed it down through the generations until they sold it suddenly and moved away. Jazzi and the guys walked through most of the house when they inspected it for structure issues before they bought it but only looked at a few of the bedrooms upstairs. When they get possession of it and do a more thorough walk-through, Jazzi discovers the fifth bedroom hasn’t been touched in years. Its walls are still pink. Dust covers the pink canopy bed and clothes still hang in its closet. And there’s a hope chest. When they open it, it’s full of a young woman’s treasures—class pictures from grade school, ribbons and trophies, yearbooks and journals.
Jazzi calls the original owners to ask if they’d like the memories before they remove them, but Lorraine Hodgkill tells her the hope chest’s contents will only revive a painful memory and asks Jazzi to never call her again. Jazzi can’t make herself trash a young girl’s thoughts and dreams, so takes the chest home to look through it. And discovers that Jessica Hodgkill was pushed off her home’s balcony and killed in the middle of her high school graduation party. No one was ever blamed for her murder.
Jazzi would leave it at that, except that her best friend’s husband grew up in Merlot, and people suspected him of killing Jessica. Every time he returns home to visit his parents and family, people point and whisper. He asks Jazzi to look into Jessica’s death to prove he was innocent. Jazzi’s not sure how much she can help but agrees. She discovers there were more than a few people who didn’t wish Jessica well, including her own father, the Hodgkills' next door neighbor, and two of her classmates. To complicate matters, in the midst of renovating and investigating, Ansel is finishing their cottage’s basement to make a playroom. And he invites all of Jazzi’s family and friends to a Halloween party...
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 67 members
This is the 5th installment in the Jazzi Zanders Mystery series. Jazzi, Ansel (her husband) and Jerod (her cousin) flip houses and they are flipping a house in another city Merlot. The house is large and in a very affluent area. They purchased the house at a great price knowing there was plenty of work to do. When inspecting the upstairs one of the rooms is locked so they call the previous owner and find out that it was that way when she purchased the house and never needed the space so never went in. Turns out the room belonged to Jessica Hodgkill who was the daughter of the family who lived there when the room was locked up. Jessica was killed at her graduation party by falling out a balcony window and Jazzi feels drawn to her and when she sees her hope chest with her journals. She reaches out to the family to see if they still want her things and her Mother is so upset she hangs up on her. The nosey neighbor has nothing nice to say about Jessica and a friend of her’s brother in law was a prime suspect and moved away as the small town gossip ruined his life. Jazzi tries to stay away but she reaches out to her detective friend Gaff and when a new murder happens Jazzi is helping out with Ansel at her side to protect her. I really love this series. Jazzi and Ansel’s life revolve around their family and it is always family first and they work so well with Jerod on the houses. This series is an automatic for me and I cannot wait for the next in the series.
This was a nice, different take of a plot. Jazzi doesn't stumble upon a dead body, but all of a dead girl's items from the girl's childhood. Of course, you do get a current dead body so that the police can get involved. Some jerks and some nice folk are involved in the story. Kept me guessing and was a fast read for me since I was interested in what had happened. Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest review.