Batten Down the Belfry

A House-Flipper Mystery

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Pub Date 01 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 08 Mar 2022
St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Paperbacks

Description

Batten Down the Belfry is the fourth in the delightful cozy mystery series from Diane Kelly set in Nashville, Tennessee—where the real estate market is to die for.

Here is the church, here is the steeple…

Carpenter Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck have successfully flipped houses, but this is the first time they’ve attempted to renovate a house of worship. Still, the colorful stained glass in the country church has caught Whitney’s eye, and she’d love to breathe new life into the abandoned building. What’s more, the place has perfect acoustics. Could the worship hall be reborn as an entertainment venue with its parsonage repurposed as a pre-show bistro?

Open the doors, and see all the trouble.

The owner of the horse farm next door has asserted a legal claim to the church property, rendering their title uncertain. If that’s not bad enough, while rehabbing the church, Whitney’s cat Sawdust discovers a bombshell in the bell tower—the body of the man who’d delivered their beautiful new replacement windows. What transpired in the spire? Who rang the man’s bell and why?

The steeple is keeping its secrets and, when a second body turns up, things become even less clear. Can Whitney help Detective Collin Flynn solve the crimes before someone else is sent to meet their maker?

Batten Down the Belfry is the fourth in the delightful cozy mystery series from Diane Kelly set in Nashville, Tennessee—where the real estate market is to die for.

Here is the church, here is the...


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ISBN 9781250816030
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Average rating from 77 members


Featured Reviews

Whitney and Buck are ready to flip another property. After closing on an old country church, they head to the new property to get started and are greeted first by some neighboring horses and then by the owner of said horses. But the horse owner claims that he also owns the land on which the church sits. What a start to a new project!

As Whitney and Buck focus on rehabbing the property, they continue with deliveries and repair and a delivery man is found dead in the church belfry. Only Sawdust saw what happened and he can’t mew what he saw to the police. When a second body is found, Whiney is even more curious because the man she thought might have killed the delivery man is now dead himself. Can she help Collin solve the case and open their brand new business without any more deaths? Whitney hope she will be around long enough to find out.

This is a fun cozy series with an adorable kitten that you just want to snuggle up with. I love the property they are rehabbing this time, a flipping failure I guess you’d call it. ;) Can’t wait to see what Whitney and Buck get caught up in their next project.

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I enjoyed this book very much. It’s an interesting mystery with great characters. I found it to be a fast read. I wasn’t surprised by who the bad guys were as the story definitely leads you to them.

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Cousins Buck & Whitney are back in another exciting addition to this series.
Whitney and her cat Sawdust are a great duo, I love how the author adds his point of view throughout the story.
Buck and Whitney are preparing to flip another project, this time it's a church, and it sounds absolutely beautiful.
Unfortunately, the neighbor next door feels he's the rightful owner, and his nasty attitude causes conflict for the cousins.
This is an easy to read series, filled with colorful characters and laugh out loud moments.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for selecting me to read an advanced copy of this book.

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Batten Down the Belfry is the fourth book in Diane Kelly’s cozy House Flipper Mystery series. This series focuses on Whitney Whitaker, who co-owns a house flipping business with her cousin Buck in Nashville, Tennessee. Whitney is dating a Metropolitan Nashville Police Department detective named Collin. Buck is dating Whitney’s best friend and roommate, Collette, who is an up-and-coming chef. Whitney often takes her adorable cat, Sawdust, with her to the job sites. It is not necessary to read the previous three novels before this one. However, as in the case with most series, it is fun to read them in order to watch the progression of the relationships.

Whitney and Buck have purchased a 92-year-old church, complete with a bell tower and a parsonage, that sits on the Davidson and Sumner County lines. It is adjacent to a horse-breeding farm on the Sumner County side. They go to inspect the property after closing only to find several horses roaming both inside and out. The neighbor, Nolan Sibley, shows up with an electric cattle prod and tells Whitney and Buck they are trespassing on his property. He asserts ownership of the church property through a claim of adverse possession.

While waiting for the legal hearing on Sibley’s claim, the flippers decide to go ahead and rehab the church into a music venue and the parsonage into a restaurant. Unfortunately, the man who delivers new stained-glass windows is murdered in the church. Whitney’s boyfriend, Collin, is assigned the case which proves to be complicated to solve, especially when a second murder occurs nearby. The story kept me guessing until the end to figure out whodunit.

This is a great series and I look forward to more!

Thanks to Sara Beth at St. Martin’s and NetGalley for my advanced reader copy. This book will be published on February 22, 2002. Pre-order a copy now. You know you want to see my name in print. LOL!

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Whitney, Sawdust, Buck, Collin and Collette are characters that I've come to love. Now Sibley, who appears in this book, is such a great character because he stirs me to such hatred of him. I'd love to take a cattle prod to him! A believable story plot that is fast paced and keeps the reader's attention. This is the fourth House Flipper Mystery and it continues the excellence of the series. Love this one! Kudos Diane Kelly!❤

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Batten Down the Belfry by Diane Kelly (House Flipper Mystery #4) 5 stars

After their successful flip chronicled in "Murder With A View", Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck have their eye on an abandoned church in Nashville. The church is in a rural area but still within driving distance from downtown. After evaluating their options, Whitney and Buck determine that the church would make a great small entertainment venue. Unfortunately, their new next door neighbor is disputing the ownership of their land. After a mysterious death of the person who delivered their custom made stained glass windows and another mysterious death of the cantankerous neighbor, Whitney has her hands full trying to figure out who is trying to put a spanner on their renovation.

As soon as I got the notice I dropped my usual schedule and put this one on top. This was a wonderful book and a very fast read. There were several red herrings and the true criminals were well hidden until the later part of the book. I love the family relationships in the book and their is a nice bit of romance towards the end. I really hope that this series will continue, but if it doesn't the characters are left in a pretty good place in their lives.

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martins Press for this ARC.

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Although the going seemed slow initially, by the end of the book I was thoroughly invested in trying to sort out who did it. This was a new series to me but "Batten Down the Belfry" worked quite well a a stand-alone, especially for someone like me who had no real interest or knowledge about fixing up and flipping houses. The fact the "house" in this instance isn't even a house but a run-down rural church only added to the interest. The main characters seemed likeable and left me rooting for them to make a success of this, I guess you'd call it, failed flip project.

Toss in a horse ranch next door with an antagonistic owner that claims he owns the property Whitney and her cousin Buck just purchased, wandering horses, the prospects of the property when refurbished becoming part of the Nashville entertainment scene, murderous money making schemes, and, yes, murder, and there is a lot to take in. Although I had an inkling about the identity of the killer of the antagonistic neighbor, like Whitney and Collin, her police boyfriend, I had no clue who killed the deliveryman in the belfry until the very end. Kudos to Diane Kelly for weaving together such an intricate plot so well. She even managed to give Sawdust, Whitney's cat, a role in the action.

Finally, while you go add this to your "to be read" list, I'm tempted to ponder what the Stained Glass Cookies in one of the recipes at the end might taste like. They sound beautiful, that's for sure.

Thanks to #NetGallery and #StMartinsPress for the ARC.

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Batten Down the Belfry is the fourth installment in the House-Flipper Mystery series featuring Whitney Whitaker, her cat Sawdust and cousin Buck. Coming off the successful flip of a ramshackle motel into luxurious condos the duo has now purchased a country church and parsonage. Whitney comes up with the idea to turn the church into an arts venue - concerts, plays, etc. and her roommate Collette (who is now dating Buck) will run the parsonage turned restaurant.

But, Nolan Sibley the horse breeder next door is claiming that he owns the land and buildings due to his filing for adverse possession. Neither Whitney or Buck like the man - and they especially don't like the way he uses the cattle prod on his horses.

Whitney hires a woman to create stained glass windows for the church and when the delivery man turns up dead, she and Buck are unwittingly exposed to a jewel smuggling operation. So, they team up with Collin Flynn, Whitney's boyfriend and homicide detective to track down a killer. When Nolan is found dead in his pasture everyone must work quickly to salvage the flip.

The return of series regulars, two adorable cats and an interesting murder plot that weaves in jewels and horse breeding, combined with warm and friendly relationships make for a fun addition to the series.

I received an advanced copy of Batten Down the Belfry from NetGalley via St. Martin's Press. While not required to write a review I am happy to offer my honest opinion.

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This is the 4th installment in the "House Flipper" Mystery series by cozy author Diane Kelly. The author knows how to write enticing cozies and is a favorite author of mine. Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity. My review opinions are my own.

The two cousins that are protagnist are Buck and Whitney. Whitney has a charming cat named Sawdust that is a fun addition to this series. The author knows cats and all their charms . Sawdust is a main charcter of this series that is catnip for all cozy cat lovers. The house flipping cousins have purchased a old church for their latest project but a neighbor is opposed to their project. When two murders occur they are on the case to determine if they are being set up or are in danger. Sawdust has laugh out loud moments as always . The sleuth really kept me guessing to conclusion to a pleasing conclusion. The charcters and cat are all likable and add to the setting. A winning addition to this series and another purrfect book from Diane Kelly.

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I really enjoyed this one. Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are renovating a church. They are going to turn into a entertainment venue. All is going okay until a delivery driver is killed on their property.
I like that Whitney’s cat Sawdust gives his take on things as well.
#battendownthebelfry#netgalley

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Through NetGalley, I received a free copy of BATTEN DOWN THE BELFRY (Book 4 of the House Flipper Mysteries), by Diane Kelly, in exchange for an honest review. Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck have purchased a church as their next flip. They don’t quite know what they’re going to do with the property, but they’re eager to start. However, the adjoining horse farm has been using the property as grazing grounds for their horses and has, therefore, filed a claim of adverse possession and ownership. So, the trouble begins. With a vision in mind, the Whitakers begin their renovations with repeated interference by the horse farm. However, trouble becomes mayhem when a delivery man is murdered in the belfry. Poor Sawdust has an affinity for finding dead humans. Whitney, with the assistance of Detective Collin Flynn, works to uncover the killer before murderous scandal sabotages another project.

I love this series. I recommend it to fans of humorous cozy mysteries.

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This ARC was provided to me via Kindle by St. Martin’s Press and #NetGalley for my honest opinion. Opinions expressed are completely my own.


An exciting cozy mystery with twists and turns!

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I loved this book just as much as the last ones! I love the banter between Whitney and her cousin and the blooming relationship between him and her roommate (I cannot remember her name). I'm glad they have finally gotten together!

I like the way the properties change in each book so while there is always a body that pops up on site, the circumstances are ever changing! This makes it easy to want to pick up the next book. I always fly right through these!

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This was the first book I have read in this series. I found the main characters, Whitney and her cousin Buck to be hard working and likeable. The supporting characters are also interesting with all their own unique personalities. The idea of turning an old church into a concert hall and how they proceeded to do it was interesting. The initial murder and how it was done was interesting and Sawdust (the cat) being the only witness was a different twist. I enjoyed the story of the renovation and the mysteries though I did suspect the murderers before they were revealed, especially in the second one. I did find the story dragged a bit when it got technical explaining a few issues.

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Batten Down the Belfry was a fun read. The main character, Whitney Whitaker and her cousin, Buck Whitaker rehab and flip houses as a business. They have bought an old church on five acres of land. When they arrive at the church they find horses grazing on their property. Their neighbor, Nolan Sibley says that he owns the church and the land. They end up going to court to straighten out who owns the property. The supporting characters add to the story. While they wait for the court date they decide to start rehabbing the church, which they plan to make into an entertainment center. The stain glass windows need to be fixed so Whitney finds a woman named Laurel Cromwell who is an artist who can repair the windows. This is where the story takes the reader on an adventure of intrigue. When the glass windows are delivered the delivery man, Gerald Woodruff is found murdered in the Belfry tower. Soon after Laurel comes and tells them that she has delivered the wrong windows and needs these windows returned. Whitney's boyfriend, Collin Flynn is a homicide detective who is assigned to this murder case. Whitney's roommate, Colette, is dating Buck and is a professional chef. The rectory they decide to make into a bistro restaurant which Colette will be the chef there.

Whitney and Buck go to court and win their case. Upon returning to the church they go to the belfry and upon looking out they see Nolan dead on his horse farm property. They think the two murders are related and Whitney decides to help her boyfriend find who killed the two men. This is where the story takes two paths. One has to do with questionable drugs and the other is money laundering.

I will let the reader find out where the story line goes and who murdered the two men.

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this ARC.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me read an advance copy of this book. I am voluntarily leaving a review. This is a book 4 in the series, but the first one for me. It definitely works as a standalone, I had no trouble getting up to speed with the story. I found the house flipping setup to be interesting. I have redone quite a few houses. Although there’s always something unexpected I have never found a dead body! The clues throughout led to the culprits. I would read others in this series.

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Diane Kelly’s writing style and sense of humor are just up my alley so it’s a joy reading the fourth book in the House-Flipper Mystery series. Whitney, Sawdust and the gang’s latest adventure is well paced with plenty of intrigue and I can’t wait to see where the next book takes all the different character’s story lines. If you’re a fan of DIY shows be sure to check out this series!

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review

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An interesting whirlwind mystery adventure featuring Whitney, Buck and her sidekick Sawdust! When a deliveryman is found dead in her belfry, Whitney begins to wonder if there is more to the mystery than a drug deal/robbery gone wrong. I absolutely loved this story and the characters! I especially loved the chapters told from Sawdusts perspective!

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A delightful cozy mystery. It is entertaining and engaging. There are cats and horses for us animal lovers. A smidgeon of romance. Clever murder mystery that kept me guessing. The location adds to the charm. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy via NetGalley.

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This is the first book that I have read in this series but I did not need to have read the previous books to enjoy this one. I will definitely look for more books by Diane Kelly.

Whitney Whitaker and her cousin, Buck, have partnered to flip houses and have just closed on an old church and parsonage. Their first day on their property, they find it full of horses and horse manure and owner of the horse farm next door states that he is the rightful owner by the power of adverse possession. While they go to court to prove their claim, Buck and Whitney begin work to turn the church and home into an entertainment venue and restaurant.

After the delivery of a shipment of custom stained glass, Whitney’s cat, Sawdust, discovers the body of the delivery driver in the church steeple. Whitney’s friend, Detective Collin Finn, is on the case and Whitney looks for clues to help him find the killer.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance reading copy.

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I absolutely love this series and it’s turned into one of my favorite cozies, so I’ve been looking forward to this book.

Whitney and her cousin Buck flip houses, and their newest project is a church. They tun into problems quickly, from the horse farm next door who claims ownership of the lands to the delivery driver who turns up dead, to the discovery of jewel smuggling, so there’s certainty no shortage of difficulties. When there’s a second death, the man who was trying to claim there land, Whitney quickly realizes there’s something big going on and wants to find out why.

I love Whitney, Buck and Collin, Whitney’s detective boyfriend. It was almost like catching up with friends, along with their supporting cast of characters. Diane Kelly did a great job keeping you guessing on the mystery and trying to find out if all the murders and illegal activities are connected. The chapters written from Sawdust’s perspective continue to be fun and unique and laugh out loud funny. I’m certainly looking forward to the next book!

Thank you to Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I was given a free e-copy of this novel by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Here is the church, here is the steeple…

Carpenter Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck have successfully flipped houses, but this is the first time they’ve attempted to renovate a house of worship. Still, the colorful stained glass in the country church has caught Whitney’s eye, and she’d love to breathe new life into the abandoned building. What’s more, the place has perfect acoustics. Could the worship hall be reborn as an entertainment venue with its parsonage repurposed as a pre-show bistro?

Open the doors, and see all the trouble.

The owner of the horse farm next door has asserted a legal claim to the church property, rendering their title uncertain. If that’s not bad enough, while rehabbing the church, Whitney’s cat Sawdust discovers a bombshell in the bell tower—the body of the man who’d delivered their beautiful new replacement windows. What transpired in the spire? Who rang the man’s bell and why?

The steeple is keeping its secrets and, when a second body turns up, things become even less clear. Can Whitney help Detective Collin Flynn solve the crimes before someone else is sent to meet their maker? (Fantastic Fiction synopsis)

I have read other series by Diane Kelly, and really enjoyed her writing. Unfortunately, this is the first in her House-Flipper series that I have read. My absolute favorite thing that Diane Kelly does is how she writes chapters in the animal’s POV. It gives a new perspective to the story, but also gives the author and the characters a more loving personality that I think flows through the novels.

Whitney is, unfortunately, not one of those amateur detectives that I like. As a working, independent woman I liked her, but when she became the detective I was annoyed. She doesn’t appear to think before she acts which puts herself and potentially others in danger. Up to the end, I did like her and her cat Sawdust. I liked that she worked with her cousin, and that she was a tom boy with some girly tendencies.

The mystery was interesting, and seemed to smooth out towards the end. I wasn’t surprised by one of the murders while the other I felt was appropriately complex.

Overall I rate this novel 4 out of 5 stars.

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Despite coming in on the fourth book in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy. It's like the perfect combination of Midsomer Murders (American style in Tennessee) and HGTV's house hunters. How can you go wrong? I'm going back to start the series from the beginning.

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Whitney Witaker and her cousin Buck's next house flipping project is converting an old church and parsonage into a new music venue and restaurant in Nashville. But the horse breeder next door believes that he owns the property and has been letting his horses roam there. He's not a very nice man given that he is a little too free with his cattle prod for Whitney's taste. That means that Whitney and Buck have to go to court, and Whitney is concerned about investing too much in the property until they are sure that they own it.

When a delivery man bringing some custom stained-glass windows to the site is murdered, Whitney and her cop boyfriend are on the case. And when the horse breeder also dies, Whitney's suspicions grow even more. Her investigations have her looking at the delivery man's possible involvement in selling drugs, the horse breeder's head hand possibly illegally selling stud services, and the stained-glass artist's possible connection to money laundering.

This was a fun story with lots of interesting details about house flipping. I liked the characters and thought the plot was nicely twisty. The recipes at the end of the book also look good.

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Batten Down the Belfry by Diane Kelly is the fourth book in her House-Flipper Mystery series. A murder investigation becomes personal for amateur detective Whitney Whitaker when a delivery driver is found murdered in the belfry of the old church Whitney and her cousin Buck are renovating to become a community theater. I liked how Whitney went about investigating smartly enough by cluing in her boyfriend Detective Colin Flynn along the way. The storyline is intriguing with action and suspense and fast pacing. This was a fun cozy mystery to read.

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This book is about a woman, Whitney, and her cousin Buck who flip properties for profit. I liked that the woman lead was in a non-traditional profession. In this story, they buy an old Church and plan to turn it into a playhouse and the parsonage into a restaurant.
Whitney goes to a stained-glass place to buy some stained glass to replace some that are broken in the church windows. It is a simple errand but it sets off a series of events that lead to something very big indeed. The wrong windows are delivered, the delivery man is killed and that starts a chain of events that at first seem unrelated.
Whitney’s boyfriend Collin, a police detective, propitiously gets involved then the next-door neighbor is killed, the woman who owns the stained-glass shop has a criminal record, as did the delivery man. Is the place that shipped the wrong windows to Whitney and is supposed to send the right ones to Europe. The windows contain some very expensive items are the windows bound for European royalty or is there more to the story?
The story moves along at a fast clip and keeps adding more and more to the story until it reaches its final climax. The story is well written and along with a healthy dose of suspense, there is a lot of fun.

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This was a really great story! I loved this new mystery, and this new flip! Whitney did find the church at the end of the previous book, so we knew what it was, but it had some pretty interesting features, that lead to what they ended up creating-like a restaurant for Colette!

There were a few things going on, and I wasn't sure that they were connected. First, there was the property's next door neighbour, who seemed to think he had a claim to the property. And then there's the murder of the delivery guy who delivered their stain glass windows. So a good portion of the mystery was if they were connected!

Of course the plot deepened and there were a few suspects, but once there was a turning point, and a good number of clues came to light, a domino effect that ending with the killer coming after Whitney. Loved how that confrontation went down!

My one concern is now, after reading this book, is that this might be the end of the series-the next flip wasn't found, and things are in a pretty good place for these characters, so I don't know if this is the end or not. I'm kinda hoping not, because I would love more mysteries with these characters!

This was a really great read, and I hope we get more in this series!

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The Fourth Book in the House-Flipper Mystery Series

Whitney Whitaker and her cousin, Buck, are flipping real estate in Nashville. So far they are doing pretty good. In this adventure, the two have purchased a property with a church and a parsonage on it. They have decided to turn it into an entertainment venue with the parsonage serving as a bar/restaurant.

Fresh from closing the deal, they arrive to find horses living on the land around the church and even one inside! And this is where we meet the neighbor. A real charmer, this one. He carries a cattle prod with him if that tells you what type of man he is. Telling them the land is his and sending them to court where the issue will be settled.

In the meantime, they get to work. The demo is in full swing and the stained glass windows are delivered. As Buck and Whitney haul them to the parsonage for safekeeping, Sawdust, who also narrates the story, is witness to a violent encounter inside the belfry! Oh to be a talking cat. Just as we were sure who did the deed, we are very wrong.

I love this series. Sawdust is a very good narrator and very observant. If you are an HGTV lover, this series is for you. There is a lot of friendship, family, good design, and a murder or two. What more could you ask for?

NetGalley/ February 22nd, 2022 St. Martin’s Press

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Whitney Whitaker, Sawdust and crew are back for another flip and another mystery or two. I love the comradery between the characters and the way they lift each other up. The mystery is a little convoluted and takes you down several side streets to get to the villain but you get there and I will say I enjoyed the ride. A terrific addition to the series.

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Whitney Whitaker and her cousin, Buck, are back at it flipping houses in this fourth installment of Kelly’s house-flipper mysteries. This time they have their eyes set on an old church. Whitney is drawn to the abandoned church with its beautiful stained glass and is eager to make the abandoned space come alive again. They want it to become an entertainment venue.

Only, the owner of the farm next door, Nolan Sibley, is not too supportive of their plans and asserts a legal claim over the church property that puts Whitney’s and Buck’s flipping dreams in jeopardy. As the legalities play out, Whitney and Buck decide to move ahead with renovations despite the harsh welcome they received from Nolan– greetings with a cattle prod and a church full of horses! Things only get worse when Whitney’s cat, Sawdust, finds a body in the bell tower. It is the body of the man who had only recently delivered their replacement windows.

Whitney’s boyfriend, Colin, is assigned the case, but it becomes a complex case to solve after a second murder occurs nearby. This mystery will definitely keep you guessing until the very end while still maintaining the cozy-mystery feeling that the earlier books have done so well.
Book Information

Batten Down the Belfry by Diane Kelly will be released on February 22, 2022 from St. Martin’s Press with ISBN 9781250816030. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.

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3.5 stars

Carpenter and home renovator Whitney Whitaker and her business partner/cousin Buck are back for another house-flip -- and of course, another dead body.

They buy an abandoned church with big plans to turn it into a small entertainment venue with a parsonage restaurant for Whitney's roommate Colette. Right off the bat they have a problem -- the neighbor next door runs a horse breeding operation and claims he acquired the property years ago. After consulting their lawyer, they file a cease and desist order against him and proceed with renovations, including a couple of replacement stained glass windows. The windows get delivered, but later that day they find the delivery driver murdered in the old church belfry.

Was the delivery man a random target? Then the stained glass artist shows up and asks for them to be removed -- she said she sent the wrong windows. Something doesn't add up. Whit and boyfriend/detective Collin Flynn try to puzzle things out.

This is a fun series and the home improvement details are interesting. Whit does have a couple of airhead moments toward the end, and the idea of a carpenter carrying her cat around with her is a little bizarre, but all in all it's an enjoyable read. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Whitney and her cousin Buck have bought an old church to rehab and flip but they're stymied almost immediately by Nolan, a neighbor who is claiming he owns it. That's only the beginning - the man who delivers the new windows is murdered and before they can take a breath- Nolan is also murdered! Whitney's love interest, Det. Collin Finn would rather that the two of them not investigate but he knows better- these two are intrepid and determined. The hunt for the villain takes them down an unexpected path. I have enjoyed this series (and this latest is fine as a standalone) because of the characters - not just Whitney and Buck but the others as well. There's humor but it never goes too far or gets hokey. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A good cozy read.

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Batten Down the Belfry the 4th instalment in the House Flipper Mysteries series by Diane Kelly. This is 2nd book I have read in the series, and it can be read as a standalone.

Here is the church, here is the steeple…

Carpenter Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck have successfully flipped houses, but this is the first time they’ve attempted to renovate a house of worship. Still, the colorful stained glass in the country church has caught Whitney’s eye, and she’d love to breathe new life into the abandoned building. What’s more, the place has perfect acoustics. Could the worship hall be reborn as an entertainment venue with its parsonage repurposed as a pre-show bistro?

Open the doors, and see all the trouble.

The characters of Whitney, Sawdust (cat), Buck, Collin and Collette are ones I have really come to love. I also enjoy the setting of Nashville, Tennessee. This time around they are flipping an abandoned church and the concept they come up with is really cool and somewhere I would want to go to. I also like where the characters are heading in their personal lives. Overall I really like this series and it’s on my must read list.

The mystery is interesting and had lots of twists which kept me guessing. I had no idea who the killer was till Whitney did.

I requested and received an advance reader copy of this book from St.Martin Press and Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own

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This series continues to grow on me with each new book, and I love the creative and atmospheric settings as Whitney and her cousin renovate unusual buildings. The victims and the perpetrator in this story were interesting and the author connected bits of the story in interesting way for a creative ending.

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Batten Down the Belfry by Diane Kelly has Whitney Whitaker and her cousin, Buck purchasing an old church and parsonage. After finalizing the purchase, Whitney and Buck go out to admire their acquisition and decide how they are going to transform it. Shortly after they arrive, their neighbor, Nolan Sibley shows up with a cattle prod in his hand. He claims to own the property through adverse possession and wants them to skedaddle. The only way to settle this land dispute is through the courts. While waiting for their hearing, Whitney and Buck begin the remodel. They are going to turn the old church into performance venue. The old parsonage will become a café where Colette, Whitney’s roommate and Buck’s girlfriend, will serve her epicurean delights. There project goes south when a man is found at the bottom of the stairs leading to the belfry. He is pronounced DOA on the way to the hospital. Before long, a second body turns up nearby. Are the two deaths tied together? Whitney sets out to get answers with help from her sidekick Sawdust. Batten Down the Belfry is the fourth A House-Flipper Mystery. It can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading all the books in this engaging series. I thought Batten Down the Belfry was well-written with developed, relatable characters. I like Whitney Whitaker who is down to earth. She is friendly and works hard flipping buildings. Buck Whitaker, Whitney’s cousin and business partner, is a nice guy who is dating Whitney’s roommate and friend, Collette. Sawdust, Whitney’s cat, steals the show with the chapters from his point of view. He is a cutie. Sawdust’s chapters will have you laughing and going “ahhhhh.” I enjoy the author’s descriptions of Nashville and how she incorporates history of the city (an example is details about the Belle Meade Plantation). The mystery was well thought it. I like how everything tied together into one fun whodunit. The mystery has unusual elements which I enjoyed. There are twists and unexpected revelations that I found delightful (I just love a challenging whodunit). There is a great reveal, and all the details are provided at the end, so I did not have any lingering questions. I just love how one character met his maker. It was very fitting. Whitney and Buck transformed a church into a performance venue. I liked reading about the various details and the work they did to accomplish the task. They also turn the parsonage into a café with Collette as the chef. I like the name Collette came up with for the café. I cannot wait to read the next A House Flipper Mystery. Batten Down the Belfry is an entertaining cozy with a land clash, a thoroughbred tyrant, a clever kitty, a bonging bell, a converted church, a disordered delivery, a messy murder, and a curious carpenter.

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4.5 Stars
I requested this when I saw it on NetGalley; I read the first book, Dead As A Doorknocker, a few weeks ago, so it was nice to have that background when I started this one. Buck, Whitney and Sawdust are back, this time they've just bought an old, disused church and parsonage with plans to turn it into a playhouse and café entertainment value. But trouble begins before they can even swing a hammer when adjacent property owner Nolan claims he owns the property, a delivery man is found dead after delivering stained glass windows, and then Nolan himself is found dead. Are the deaths related? Whitney and Sawdust go to work to find a murderer.

I loved the first book and this one was even better, and I would say this can be read as a standalone or an entry into the series, as there were very few references to the earlier books. I love the little bits of humor and absurdity, from finding a horse standing in the middle of the church to Sawdust's thoughts about kitty friend Cleo and the playhouse and cafe idea was amazing, definitely a place I'd love to check out!

The plot really shone in this one, I loved that the plot wasn't one seen often in a cozy - I won't expand on that, as it would definitely clue readers in to where to look, so there weren't a lot of clues pointing at anyone in particular. A lot of it came down to observation, sleuthing and interviewing, but there was enough there for me to chew on as I read and I didn't guess the culprit until the conclusion (where hero cat Sawdust saves the day yet again!) Delightful from start to finish, this is definitely a great cozy series for young and old.

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Batten Down the Belfry is book #4 in the House-Flipper Mystery series by Diane Kelly.

Whitney Whitaker and her cousin, Buck, purchase a former church and parsonage to renovate. A neighbor claims it is his property causing stress between the neighbors. Then there is a murder to deal with as well.

This is the first book I’ve read in this series and I really enjoyed it. I had no trouble reading it as a stand-alone. The characters are wonderful. It is fun reading how they bounce ideas off each other regarding the property and how excited they are. I really liked the Sawdust chapters. The mysteries were complex and when I thought I had it figured out, there would be another twist.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) copy of this book and I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

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Another fun installment with Whitney, Buck, Colette, Collin and Sawdust!

Whitney plans to flip an old church into a theater and it should have been easy, right? But of course they find a body and Whitney just can’t help trying to find out whodunnit.

This book series is always refreshing because Whitney is very smart and capable. She isn’t a nosy business, she really just wants to figure out what happened!

I liked this story, it has horses (a personal favorite) and a tricky mystery. My only complaint is that a lot of the ending was exposition. Sometimes you really need to break up all that information with a conversation or an interaction.

There’s also some fun recipes!

I continue to enjoy this series. I look forward to more.

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Whitney and her cousin, Buck, buy fixer-uppers, repair them and then flip them for a profit and then move on to their next project. They buy an old church and parsonage and instead of selling them, they envision the property as a playhouse and bistro. Whitney's best friend (and Buck's girlfriend), Colette, is a chef and is excited to run the bistro.

After some windows are delivered, Whitney discovers the delivery man dead in the bell tower. Whitney's boyfriend, Collin, is the police detective in charge of finding the killer. Then a couple days later, Whitney and Buck see their neighbour next door, who they were having issues with, dead in his yard. Are the deaths connected or just a coincidence?

I've read many books by this author and though the whodunnit is a bit convoluted, I thought this one was okay. Though it's the fourth in the House-Flipper series, it works as a stand alone (I've read the first three). It was a quick light read and is a "cozy mystery" so there is no swearing, violence or adult activity (there's no heat at all between Whitney and Collin).

I liked the writing style. It is written in first person perspective from Whitney's point of view and third person perspective from Sawdust's point of view (which is funny since it's written from the perspective of Whitney's cat), although Sawdust wasn't in this book much.

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Whitney and Buck purchase an abandoned church and parsonage on several acres for their next project. On their first visit to their newly acquired property, they encounter horses roaming the property and an abrupt encounter with the horses’ owner, who informs them this is his property. And so the adventure begins.

Whitney, Buck, and Colette come up with great ideas for the old church and house. Unfortunately, within a short time, they find themselves dealing with two deaths. First, someone kills the man delivering new windows for their project. Next, the horse owner on the farm next door is found dead. Whitney and Sawdust, Whitney’s sleuthing feline, begin investigating while working on the new project.

Diane Kelly’s House-Flipper Mysteries continue to intrigue, and the read is all the more engaging, with Sawdust writing his chapters through the narrative. Ms. Kelly continues to build the primary characters’ relationships, and her storytelling skills generate creative, twisty plots. Batten Down the Belfry is an entertaining entry in Ms. Kelly’s captivating

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It looked like Whit and Buck had scored themselves another nice property, and with all the ideas they collectively had for it, it promised to be a good profit and future moneymaker for them. Only the one little problem of the body in the bell tower needed to be addressed first. And if that wasn't bad enough, there was another death on the property after that.

I loved the idea Collette came up with for having a cafe to go along with the theater venue building. It was cute how she and Buck were getting closer. I like where Whitney and Collin are in their relationship. He finally realized she's useful to investigations, and it doesn't do any good to tell her to keep away anyhow.

The showdown was crazy exciting! Sawdust got to play a part, and that old bell in the church definitely came in handy! The very ending was so sweet and now I can't wait for the next book!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC provided by St. Martin's via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.

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Batten Down the Belfry combines two of my favorite things to do: read cozy mysteries and watch house flipping shows.

Whitney and her cousin Buck flip unusual properties. This time they buy an abandoned church and parsonage, which they plan to make an entertainment venue and restaurant, respectively. Not only is that a lot of work by itself, but they are plagued with a lawyered-up neighbor who is convinced their property is his. Then, a deliveryman is murdered in the church’s belfry! This is definitely not your usual Flip or Flop!

I love the characters and the mysteries were a challenge to solve. There are also some real house flipping tips sprinkled throughout the book. Batten Down the Belfry is a fun read. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Batten Down the Belfry by Diane Kelly is the fourth installment of the House-Flipper Mystery series. I have read and love all the books in the House-Flipper Mystery series and have anxiously looking forward to reading Batten Down the Belfry. Batten Down the Belfry continues the story of Whitney, her cat Sawdust, and Whitney's friends and family and the adventures and mysteries they get into in Nashville, Tennessee.

In this instalment of the House-Flipper Mystery series, Whitney and her cousin Buck bought an old church property as well as the parsonage with plans to turn the church into a music venue, similar to the Ryman, and the parsonage into a restaurant. While preparing the venue there have been property disputes and a couple of deaths on and around the property. Whitney and her detective-boyfriend Colin are on the case again when a delivery man is found dead in the church's bell tower.

Batten Down the Belfry is full of twists and turns, that opens up the ugliness of the horse world and international shipping. I loved the intrigue in the book. I loved seeing the continued growth of the main characters that have went forward from each book of the series. I love how some of the favorite characters from previous books in the series make an appearance in Batten Down the Belfry. I really enjoyed Batten Down the Belfry. If you're are looking for a nice cozy mystery, I highly recommend Batten Down the Belfry and the entire House-Flipper Mystery series.

Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. My review is also on Goodreads.

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Whitney always has creative ideas for the real estate flips done by her and her cousin. This time they are turning an old church into an entertainment venue. The trouble is the dead bodies.

In a fun twist we get chapters from Whitney's perspective and a few from her cat Sawdust's perspective. The flip is creative and the mystery original. This is the fourth book in the House Flipper series but could easily be read as a stand-alone. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Whitney and her cousin, Buck are starting another house flip and this one is nothing like their past flips....except, of course, there is a murder or two to solve. Their last project made them enough money to allow them to purchase and old church and the parish house plus some acreage. Once they do a walk through, Whitney sees its possibility and Buck agrees. They will turn the old church into a music/theater venue and the house will become a restaurant. With those plans in mind they are ready to begin...as soon as they remove the various horses from the church and deal with their neighbor. Turns out he is convinced that some time ago he got some Google forms and filled in the blanks thereby making a claim to the "abandoned" property as his own. With their lawyer giving them the go ahead after looking over the not at all legal papers, Whitney and Buck are shocked when the man who had earlier delivered some stained glass windows to the church is found dead on the stairs to the belfry. With only her cat, Sawdust as a witness, it's on Whitney and Buck to reveal the killer.
This is a great cozy mystery series, full of likable characters, a satisfying mystery to unravel and a sweet cat, as well. It's the perfect winter escape read and, if you haven't read the previous entries, it works fine as a stand alone.
My thanks to the publisher, St. Martin's Press and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Batten Down the Belfry by Diane Kelly is the fourth book in the cozy House-Flipper Mystery series. As with most cozy mysteries each of these books in the series could be read as a standalone if choosing to do so as the mystery within is fully solved during the book. There is of course some character development carried over book to book for those fans following in order from the beginning.

In the House-Flipper Mystery series Whitney Whitaker had been working as a property manager to pay the bills while she had been living in her parents pool house with her cat, Sawdust. Real estate and renovating were really Whitney’s passions so whenever she got the chance she was diving into the house flipping business with her cousin Buck.

This time around Whitney her cousin Buck have purchased and old church that has been sitting empty for years. When they arrive at the property though they find they aren’t quite welcomed by the new neighbor who thinks he owns their land. As Whitney and Buck wait for court date to settle the dispute they begin work regardless but unfortunately a delivery driver ends up murdered in the building while they are away leaving Whitney to figure out just what happened.

The House-Flipper Mystery series is another that I have followed from the beginning and have really enjoyed so far. This one goes right along with my love for all things HGTV, cute kitty cats and a quirky fun story to get me laughing. Cute Sawdust the kitty gets his own point of view often stealing the show which I love. Whitney also has a detective boyfriend helping solve the cases which I also enjoy. This fourth book in the series landed at four and a half starts for me so I’ll definitely be on the look out for book five.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

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The fourth in the series, Batten Down The Belfry was such a fun cozy mystery. I highly recommend this book.

Whitney and Buck are back in another renovation. This time though they are working on a local church. Once there Sawdust, Whitney's cat finds a body. The twists and turns make this a great whodunit.

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I loved this fast paced story filled with interesting complex and quirky characters. The story captured me on the first page and I could not put this book down! Lots of twists and turns, murder and mayhem, make this a real page turner and a must must read!

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What a fun cozy mystery! I enjoyed it so much. Great characters and storyline with lots of twists and turns and possible suspects that definitely kept me entertained....and guessing.
Highly recommend.

Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. My thoughts and opinions are my own and without bias or favor or expectation.
I also won a paperback copy from the author.

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What a fun visit and adventure with Whitney.


Batten Down the Belfry has Whitney and Buck flipping something a little bit different this time. Instead of a house they are transforming a church with beautiful Stained Glass into possibly an entertainment venue. This fun endeavor takes a turn when a delivery driver is found dead and this becomes all too personal for Whitney when a second body is discovered.


Whitney and her cousin Buck are a great team. I love what they do to the houses and I love that we get a good mystery in there as well. Whitney is smart and beyond capable. I love how she clues in the local detective along the way. We get a bit of suspenseful action with a good storyline and a mystery that I didn’t figure out until the end. Diane Kelly Rights to draw you into the story and gives you and exciting mystery in the end.

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A fun, casual entry by Diane Kelly: Batten Down the Belfry!

I found this book a wonderful read. This is my first introduction to this series. The story along with the characters kept me reading this book. The protagonists in this story have a unique career in flipping and renovating buildings. I couldn't help but root for the project to be successful, in addition to them solving the mystery.

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Batten Down the Belfry Earns 5/5 Stained-Glass…Entertaining Fun!

Clever mystery, diverse characters, twisty investigation, exciting arrest, and themed recipes! All key elements that make this fourth book of Diane Kelly’s House-Flipper Mystery well-worth a read. Carpenter Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck buy distressed properties, renovate, and give the property new life. This current project is an abandoned church and parsonage outside of Nashville, and with its unique characteristics, the two buildings will be converted into a music hall and bistro. Perfect! Almost…the neighbor asserts he has a legitimate claim to the property, delaying much of the work, but it’s the dead body on the stairs to the church belfry that really puts the project in jeopardy. Whitney offers an unofficial partnership with her boyfriend Detective Colin Flynn to uncover the killer, but the situation becomes more complicated when a second victim is discovered. Are they connected? So many questions cloud the situation.

Diane Kelly has established a creative premises for her series with a team of house-flippers choosing unique properties to not just “flip” for a nice profit, but to create something with a renewed purpose. Although characters and relationships have grown over the four books, this one provides enough background for newbies to easily enjoy. As with all cozy mysteries, she includes a creative murder investigation to entangle the lead including a positive association with law enforcement…her boyfriend. The exploration, clues, and questioning reveal a few reasonable theories ending with a surprise conclusion. I enjoyed the fascinating side stories about stained-glass windows, Nashville setting, and horse breeding, and the antics of Whitney’s cat aptly named Sawdust. Kelly’s writing style is entertaining with descriptive language creating wonderful sensory-laden pictures and witty dialogue to illustrate the emotions and personalities. Kelly’s characters are well-developed led by a strong female, endearing familial connections, good friends, and a healthy romance. Last…recipes! Enjoy these treats themed just right: Stained-Glass Cookies, Easy as Sin Apple Rosettes, and Original Sin Sour Appletini. Don’t miss this gem!

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Princess Fuzzypants here: I really like this series. Whitney is a very cool heroine who, with her cousin Buck, buys and repurposes properties. They do all the work themselves with the help of Colette, Whitney’s best friend and Buck’s girlfriend, and another cousin, Owen. And she has an amazing kitty by the name of Sawdust who adores Whitney. Even though he is a ‘fraidy cat, he would risk all if his human was in peril. This is an awesome team.

It is a derelict church and parsonage that has their attention this time. They plan to turn it into a playhouse and restaurant for Colette. They are salvaging as much as they can but they have a real pain in the you know where in the neighbour who thinks just because he’s used the property like he owned it, he legally does. They are going to have to surmount him before they can breathe a sigh of relief. And this is where my biggest issue with the entire book lies. They spend time making plans, getting partners, looking at incorporating but other than a brief comment that the neighbour might put a monkey wrench in their request for zoning changes, they do not get said changes before going ahead. Small detail in the course of the story but a huge in a business sense.

That aside, two bodies later, including the neighbour whom they have beaten in court, Whitney and her detective boyfriend Collin are trying to figure out a very twisted conspiracy that smuggles real gems in works of art as money laundering. It is big and it is nasty when the truth comes out. But it is also very intriguing and exciting. It has a thrilling conclusion in which Sawdust plays a major role. It was an enjoyable read in spite of that one minor glitch. It still earns five purrs and two paws up.

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House-flipper Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are on to their next renovating project. They found an abandoned church building outside of Nashville and made an offer. The members of the church had moved to a bigger, more modern building and left this one, waiting for 9 years until someone found an interest in it. Whitney and Buck got a good price on it, and they’re ready to get started cleaning it out and deciding what they want to do with it.

They have barely shown up and gotten started, haven’t even let Whitney’s cat Sawdust out of his carrier yet, when they realize that there are horses on the property. Whitney even finds one in the church building. and she’s trying to figure out how to get it out without the horse hurting her or getting too scared. But before she can figure out how, two men show up, one with a big knife in his belt and an electronic cattle prod in his hands.

The man with the cattle prod introduces himself as Nolan and tells them to get off his property. When Whitney explains that they closed on the property that morning, he says that he had put in the paperwork for an adverse possession eight years ago, and since he had been using the property for eight years, it was now rightfully his. Whitney stands by her paperwork, saying that if he had a legal claim to the land, then it would have come up during the title search, so clearly there was no official record of him being the owner.

They both threaten to call the police, but first Nolan and his ranch hand gather their horses and move them back to the farm. Meanwhile, Whitney calls the Nashville police. The property they bought is unusual because most of it is in Davidson county, which is also where Nashville is, but there is a corner of the property that is in Sumner county, which is where Nolan’s ranch is. He calls the county sheriff, and eventually they all meet up again at the church. The two officers confer and tell them that what they have is a civil issue, but they side with Whitney and her paperwork. Whitney calls her attorney, and he begins the search to find out what’s happened.

Nolan leaves after the officers do, but he’s clearly not happy about the situation. Whitney and Buck don’t care, as long as he goes back to his ranch and leaves them alone. As they start to look around the property and think about what they’d like to do with it, they make their way up to the belfry, where there is still a working bell. Sawdust loves the rope and decides to sharpen his claws by grabbing at it. And Whitney gets an idea.

The space is special, and while lots of people are looking to live in a place that has a storied history, she thinks that turning the church into a residence would be a miss. With all the performers in Nashville, there is always a need for more music venues, so she decides they should renovate the church into a small venue, where they can host musicians or dancers or even plays. Then they realize that the parsonage nearby could be a small bistro where customers could eat dinner before the shows.

As the ideas start to pop, Whitney looks at the beautiful stained glass windows that have made it through the years and decides she wants to replace the other stained glass windows with more colorful windows. She finds a nearby artist who can create the windows for her and orders two that are completely custom and two that are ready-made. She loves supporting local artists, but she also has to keep an eye on the budget, and that seems a fair compromise to her. The artist, Lauren, agrees to deliver the new windows in a month, and Whitney gets back to work on everything else that needs to be renovated on the church.

The weeks go by, and the new venue, the Joyful Noise Playhouse, starts to come together. It’s almost the day for their hearing about the property’s ownership, and it’s the delivery day for the new windows. Lauren had hired a delivery company to bring the windows out to Whitney. The delivery driver brings the boxes in to the church, but Whitney and Buck decide to store them in the bedroom of the parsonage until they can get them installed. But while they’re over there, they think they hear the church’s bell ringing. hey run back to the belfry and find the delivery man laying there, unmoving, with rope burns on his neck.

They immediately call an ambulance and the police, and Whitney’s boyfriend, homicide detective Collin Flynn gets called out there too. But who would want to murder the man? Was it a robbery? Could it have been a drug deal gone bad? Did he see something that he shouldn’t have? Or is there some other reason for the man’s death? Whitney is determined to figure it out so she can move forward with her plans for the music venue. But will that determination put her in the crosshairs of a killer?

Batten Down the Belfry is the fourth in Diane Kelly’s House-Flipper Mysteries. The characters of Whitney and Buck, Whitney’s friend and roommate (and Buck’s girlfriend) Colette, detective Collin, and that scene-stealing cat Sawdust are back to fight crime and modernize old buildings. Bringing their hard work and ingenuity to this abandoned church as well as to the crime that happened there.

I enjoyed Batten Down the Belfry. These characters are very likable, and the writing is smooth as silk. Most of the chapters are told from Whitney’s point of view, but every once in a while, you get a different perspective, namely that of Sawdust. The cat gets to tell pieces of his own story, which is a little unusual but definitely fun. This is the first book in this series that I’ve read, so I can say that you do not need to read the previous books to find out what’s going on. Although once you spend some time with these characters, in their Nashville, then you may find that you want to go back to the beginning and read them all.

Egalleys for Batten Down the Belfry were provided by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley, with many thanks.

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Batten Down The Belfry
House-Flipper Mystery, Book #4
Diane Kelly
5 Stars

Synopsis:

Batten Down the Belfry is the fourth in the delightful cozy mystery series from Diane Kelly set in Nashville, Tennessee—where the real estate market is to die for.

Here is the church, here is the steeple…

Carpenter Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck have successfully flipped houses, but this is the first time they’ve attempted to renovate a house of worship. Still, the colorful stained glass in the country church has caught Whitney’s eye, and she’d love to breathe new life into the abandoned building. What’s more, the place has perfect acoustics. Could the worship hall be reborn as an entertainment venue with its parsonage repurposed as a pre-show bistro?

Open the doors, and see all the trouble.

The owner of the horse farm next door has asserted a legal claim to the church property, rendering their title uncertain. If that’s not bad enough, while rehabbing the church, Whitney’s cat Sawdust discovers a bombshell in the bell tower—the body of the man who’d delivered their beautiful new replacement windows. What transpired in the spire? Who rang the man’s bell and why?

The steeple is keeping its secrets and, when a second body turns up, things become even less clear. Can Whitney help Detective Collin Flynn solve the crimes before someone else is sent to meet their maker? (Goodreads)

Review:

The characters are well rounded and well developed. I really enjoyed getting to spend time with Whitney and Buck and seeing what renovations they have in store this time. They plan to renovate an old church into an entertainment venue. But before they get very far into the project two people are killed. Now Whitney will have to figure out who the killer is before their project gets derailed.

The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and it helped get me into the mood for the sleuthing that would be needed to solve the mystery. The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. The mystery was well plotted and not easily solved.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well plotted cozy mystery. Come and visit with Whitney and her family and friends, you will be glad you did.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley, which I greatly appreciate.

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Whitney and Buck have taken the plunge and bought an old church to flip into a performance venue. The catch? The neighboring farmer believes he owns the properties because of squatter's rights. As the disagreement heats up, the farmer is found dead on his land. Unfortunately, this is the second body that Whitney has found while working on this property. What's going on? Can Whitney find out before the bodies stack up even more?

OMG, this one was so twisty! It kept me guessing the whole way through! I'm loving Whitney's development and the development of all of her friends and family. I am loving the writing and find the mysteries so much fun. I cannot wait to see what's next for Whitney!

*eARC provided in exchange for an honest review*

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Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck have acquired an old church and parsonage for their next project. However, when they arrive to start, they find a herd of horses and piles of manure and are greeted by an irate neighbor stating that they are trespassing on his lands. The police and called and after producing their settlement papers, Buck and Whitney decide to ignore the neighbor and leave the issues to be settled in court. The process doesn't get any easier when a delivery is murdered in the bell tower will Whitney and Buck are working at the parsonage. Why would the delivery man be killed and why in the bell tower?

I really enjoyed the story of rehabbing the old church and the interaction with the neighbor who gets his just desserts. The mystery was interesting because of the clues that were subtly left.

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I have long been a fan of the “A House-Flipper Mystery” series, and with book four, Batten Down the Belfry, my enjoyment and admiration for the series and the author have grown. An old church, a bell tower, stained glass, a bistro, and all of the delightful characters of this series create a mystery that will take readers from interested to obsessed.

Whitney and Buck love the idea of renovating an old church. They want to use the bell tower to attract entertainment to their doors and create a place that will have an audience thrilled and willing to spend their hard-earned dollars. To complete the look, they add stained glass windows that reflect music, art, theater, and everything that will give the idea of entertainment at its finest. Add the parsonage-turned bistro; they have everything an artist or an audience could want. If it weren’t for the bodies that keep turning up, it would be perfect. To top it off, the local horse rancher next door has claimed the property and is trying every dirty trick in the book to take Whitney and Buck’s property for his own.

Characters in this series have always been exciting and the kind of people you would like to get to know. Each has a distinct personality that compliments each other and each situation. This time the victim is a stranger, but as he died on Whitney and Buck’s property, you know instantly that the hunt for the killer will not be left up to the authorities. Evidence is slim, but it’s there waiting to be uncovered. I adore the bell tower, and adding the stained glass windows with an artistic theme is delightful. The scene of the crime is the Church. This contains and restrains the locations but gives readers a nice idea of what the area looks and feels like. The killer isn’t hard to figure out, but the twist that comes along with the investigation will have readers putting on their thinking caps.

Whitney, as usual, places herself in danger, having more guts than brains at times, it seems. Buck does what he always does, backs Whitney and tries his best to keep out of trouble. In Batten Down the Belfry, we enjoy a new side of Buck we didn’t see coming. Readers will be awed by the bell tower, the stained glass, the bistro, and even the horse ranch. This book has an eye toward keeping the reader guessing, adding more mystery than investigation, and making sure that readers are left breathless.

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