Primer and Punishment

A House-Flipper Mystery

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Pub Date 21 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 07 Mar 2023
St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Paperbacks

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Primer and Punishment marks the fifth in the delightful cozy mystery series from Diane Kelly set in Nashville, Tennessee. Whitney Whitaker has a knack for nailing down murderers . . . but this time she might just come unmoored.

Carpenter Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are looking once again to rehab and resell a house, only this particular house is made of fiberglass, floats, and has been dubbed the Skinny Dipper. The old houseboat sure could use some work, but the unusual project has Whitney bubbling with excitement.

The charming and handsome Grant Hardisty lives on the cabin cruiser in the adjacent slip, but the cousins soon learn he’s left a half dozen angry ex-wives in his wake and made enemies of all sorts of unsavory folks. The man is clearly caught in an increasingly dangerous current with no life preserver in sight.

Whitney and Buck are spraying primer on their houseboat when—KABOOM!—Grant’s boat blows sky high with the man himself inside. Detective Collin Flynn has no shortage of suspects, but the waters become muddied when several of them confess to the crime. Is one of those who confessed truly guilty, or are they taking a dive for someone else? When anonymous threats are made against the cousins, Whitney must quickly determine who killed their neighbor at the lake, or she and Buck might also be sunk.

Primer and Punishment marks the fifth in the delightful cozy mystery series from Diane Kelly set in Nashville, Tennessee. Whitney Whitaker has a knack for nailing down murderers . . . but this time...

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Average rating from 45 members

Featured Reviews

I will not normally begin a series at book 5, but the idea of renovating a houseboat totally hooked me. Whitney, her cousin and friends are all delightful and I had no sorrow about the death. All in all a good series which means I will have to begin at book 1. (Not sad)

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This is a fun cozy mystery series featuring Whitney and her cousin Buck. The cousins are house flippers and they really enjoy what the do.
When Buck presents them with a unique opportunity, flip a house boat, Whitney is immediately intrigued.
Of course nothing ever goes according to plan, and when Whitney and Buck witness a horrific accident, Whitney finds herself wrapped up in another murder investigation.
This is a series that gets better with each book. The characters are easy to like, and I do enjoy reading fixer upper themed cozy mysteries.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for selecting me to read an advanced copy of this book.
#PrimerandPunishment #NetGalley

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Through NetGalley, I received a free copy of PRIMER AND PUNISHMENT (Book 5 of the House-Flipper mysteries) by Diane Kelly in exchange for an honest review. Property prices have skyrocketed, so carpenters Whitney and Buck Whitaker are having trouble finding an affordable property to flip. Buck eventually finds a houseboat they can work on to turn a small profit. However, getting to know the neighbors is a risky proposition. Whitney ends up having to deal with all of the irate visitors coming to see (and confront) the con-man next door. When the situation explodes, Whitney finds herself working to identify a murderer and to exonerate an innocent woman.

I liked this book and enjoy the series. I recommend this book to fans of cozy mysteries featuring murder, home renovation, kitty side-kicks, and humor.

#PrimerandPunishment #NetGalley

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Primer and Punishment, the fifth book in the very entertaining House Flipper Mystery series by Diane Kelly, once again had me guessing until the final chapters…Ms Kelly is masterful in misdirections with a plethora of likely and interesting suspects.

With the perfect combination of red herrings, believable plot twists and turns, a multitude of elements of the crime moving and shifting to keep the reader engaged, and a most dislikable victim who had wrong so many suspects that it was easy seeing any of them as the culprit…the pages couldn’t be turned fast enough. And that Whitney and Buck’s latest flip project was a houseboat gave a whole new perspective to their flipping enterprise. This author has been quite inventive in the duos projects…a church and rectory turned into a theatre and restaurant (respectably) are case in point.

Also, as the series has evolved and Whitney and Buck’s house flipping business has grown and developed, as well as their individual personal lives have evolved, it has been rewarding to have been along for the ride from the beginning, and to be emotionally invested in what the future holds for Whitney and Buck with their business and personal lives.

This ARC book was complimentary, provided by NetGalley and the Publisher. I am voluntarily providing my honest review.

#PrimerandPunishment. #NetGalley #AuthorDianeKelly #DianeKellyAuthor #StMartin’sPress

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Primer and Punishment is the 5th in the House Flipper series. It takes place in Nashville, Tennessee. Whitney Whitaker is the main character along with her cousin, Buck Whitaker. She and Buck fix up houses to resell. Colette is one of her roommates who owns her own restaurant and Buck's fiancé. Emmalee is her other roommate who works for Colette's assistant manager. Collin Flynn is her boyfriend who is a homicide detective with the Metro Nashville Police Department. Buck tells Whitney that he has found their next project. It is a houseboat called Skinny Dipper. It needs work but she agrees to buy it.

After buying the boat they decide to live on the boat while they work on it. Whitney brings her cat Sawdust as she did not want to leave him at home. They start work on the boat by clearing out the boat, sanding down the furniture, replacing the generator, etc. There is a boat named Sexy Sheila in the slip next to them. A boat pulls up and a man gets off it with fish and boards the boat. A dog named Jojo is in the cabin. He comes back out with the dog and some beers. He asks them if they would like to join him. His name is Grant Hardisty. He tells them that he bought the boat from a friend whose wife was named Sheila. He was a bartender but is not able to work because he hurt his leg. He is living on the boat as he is in the middle of a divorce.

Mick and Sheila come with a check to buy back their boat but he tells them he can't sell it back to them at this time as he is in the middle of a divorce and is living on the boat. Grant's two ex-wives - Jackie and Denna also have a lot to do with the story. This is where the story takes off with lots of things happening which I will leave to the reader as I don't want to spoil it. There is a build up with the death of Grant when the Sexy Sheila blows up with him aboard and finding out who killed him. The ending of the story is Buck and Colette's wedding and Collin giving Whitney a ring,

I really enjoyed this story and look forward to the next adventure in the series.

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

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Cousins Whitney and Buck buy a houseboat to rehab. They meet charming and good looking Grant Hardisty who lives in a cabin cruiser in the boat slip next to them. They soon learn maybe he's not as nice as he first seemed, as he borrowed money from Buck. which he never returns. Apparently he has a habit of this as angry ex-wives, Ex girlfriends, and angry friends show up at the boat to confront him. When his boat explodes and several people confess to his murder. Whitney gets involved to find the real murderer. This was a fast paced, fun cozy, with plenty of suspects. I love this series and look forward to reading the next one! ☆☆☆☆☆


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Whitney and Buck are expanding their business yet again, this time by flipping a houseboat. Getting to live on the boat while they’re working is a plus, even better is having a place to host the bachelorette and bachelor parties before selling the boat.

With a neighbor that sees to use people, Buck finds himself out of some serious change while the man himself finds himself out of time when is boat is blown to smithereens with him on it. Who wanted the man dead? Scratch that, who didn’t want the man out of their life is a better question. Did Whitney see anything that can help solve whodunit? Or will the killer get by Scott free this time?

Another good entry in this house flipping series. I come for the mysteries, but I also keep coming back for the progression in the life stories of the characters. It’s an enjoyable series with a cute kitty or two..super cozy and a solid mystery each time.

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I appreciate the publisher allowing me to read this book. This was a really good mystery I enjoyed reading.

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Tennessee, small-business, relationships, relatives, renovation, restaurant, cozy-mystery, amateur-sleuth, houseboat, law-enforcement, murder, murder-investigation, explosion, verbal-humor*****

The publisher's blurb is an excellent hook!
This time the cousins/business partners tackle renovating a dilapidated houseboat and they (and this reader) learn a lot about all that is involved in the work. They are moored next to a handsome people user who stands out as prime candidate for Murder Victim. The how is amazing and we get to know more about the Fire Service as everyone gets in on the sleuthing. Some astounding plot twists and surprising (!) red herrings for this collection of relatable characters. Loved it!
I requested and received an EARC from St. Martin's Press/St. Martin's Paperbacks via NetGalley. Thanks!

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"I confess. I did it."

Normally Whitney Whitaker's detective boyfriend, Collin, would be happy to have someone confess early on to a crime. This time, however, he has three people claiming they are the guilty party. So, who literally blew up Grant Hardisty, who was living on the boat docked beside their latest rehab project, an old houseboat dubbed the Skinny Dipper? 

With, let's see, six ex-wives, countless people he owed money to, and Grant's using people, there are obviously quite a few suspects. For the record, this one kept me guessing until the end. Let's just say, the red herrings just kept on coming, leaving me uncertain until the big reveal who was really guilty. The plot moved along smoothly, managing to fit in hints and bits about the process of going about the rehab of a boat, such as the specialty paint needed for both the above and below water portions, not to mention the best paint rollers for the job. There's humor, too, another plus.

For me, as intriguing as trying to sort out who blew up Grant's boat to kill him was, it was the sense of family and friends that made this book a winner. Whitney and her cousin Buck work long, physical hours, but still find time(and energy) to spend with those they care about. Heck, the whole book is a build-up, pun intended, to Buck's wedding to Whitney's cousin Collette, with various characters popping in and out to assist with shower and bachelor/bachelorette parties, among other things. Even Sawdust the cat gets to share his views on happenings, among them his unexpected friendship with JoJo the neighbor dog. You'll also get a crash course, of sorts, for a boating license exam, which Buck is understandably not real focused on despite Whitney's frequent oral quizzing. 

Will he pass? Will Whitney's curiosity help solve the investigation of who literally blew Grant to bits? Why so many confessions? Will Sawdust ever forget his unexpected dip into the water? Maybe he will learn to appreciate that cat life jacket, which I thought was a nice, subtle reminder to those who might want to take their pets out on the water with them. 

Bottom line, this one (and the whole series) is a winner. Thanks #NetGalley and #StMartinsPress for inviting me over to check out the Skinny Dipper. After that ending, I can't wait. Well, maybe I'll try the Mermaid Paradise Punch recipe while I wait.

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I have never read this series before, but I loved the cover and the story description, so I jumped in and so glad I did!

Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are house flippers in Nashville. Buck comes across a unique opportunity...flip a houseboat named the Skinny Dipper. Even though they have never done it before they jump right in with the help of Whitney's research and both their outstanding skills. They both live on the boat while they are rehabbing it. They meet their "neighbor" Grant Hardisty who is living on his boat since he is in the middle of a divorce. Grant is in search of his next sugar mama and has several exes as well as ways to make easy money. It's not long before there is an incident and Grant is blown up with his boat. There are no shortage of suspects and actually three confessions to sort through. Whitney finds herself in the middle of her police detective boyfriend's case while trying to finish the work on the skinny dipper and plan the shower and bachelorette party for her best friend and Buck's fiancé.

It's a great mystery with twists and turns and wonderful characters. I had no trouble catching on even though it was my first book of this series. I am definitely going to be looking to read books 1-4 of this series.

Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher, St Martin's Press for this ARC in return for my honest review.

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Whitney and Buck are back and this time they are flipping a houseboat. Lake life is the best! Their marina neighbor has issues and one of them is going to blow him and his boat to bits. Of course Whitney has to involve herself in the investigation. It’s not like she doesn’t have enough to do with rehabbing the boat, planning a bridal party for Colette, and spending time with Sawdust. But her intentions are good. I love the amount of research the author puts into these stories and I always learn something new. The ending took me by surprise but boy did I love it. Another terrific adventure.

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Primer and Punishment by Diane Kelly was such a fun mystery! I love a renovation mystery and the Nashville houseboat setting made it even more unique! This one is part of a series but could be read as a stand alone! Bring it on your next beach trip!

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Primer and Punishment was a great mystery read. Whitney, her cousin Buck and her
cat, Sawdust work together to rehab and flip houses. In this book it is a houseboat they
are redoing. The neighbor in the next slip seems a bit unusual but is something illegal going on with him or is he just a bit of a charmer who gets what he wants? Very nicely done
and the mystery has lots of suspects before it’s solved.
I received an advance copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest

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Whitney and her cousin Buck make a living flipping houses. They are trying a new flip: a houseboat. The person in the next boat, Grant, initially seems friendly, but apparently he has a lot of baggage: multiple ex-wives, no job, and a questionable injury he says prevents him from working. There is a terrible explosion at the marina, and Whitney decides to investigate. I really had to suspend disbelief when so many people agreed to talk to her, since she was basically a busybody and not an investigator or in law enforcement. Every time she got some new information, the professionals would look into it; surprisingly, they did not tell her to back off. I did like the house flipper mystery premise and the animals in the book, Sawdust and Jojo. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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Thanks Netgalley for allowing me to read this book. Whitney and her cousin are excited about Flipping a house boat. Its their first time that they will be working on a house. Their neighbor is not very well liked and when their is an explosion on his boat, the number of suspects who wanted him dead is very long. This book kept me guessing.

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Always a good read. Diane Kelly is a master at taking a cozy mystery and putting a great twist on them. You never worry that the killer won’t be caught.

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Oh, this book was such a pleasure to read! There are times (like when you have the flu) that you just want a cozy mystery, where the guy who dies is an absolute jerk, the gore level is low, you can catch up with favorite characters, and get a little touch of HGTV house flipper as well. I hesitate to use the word uncomplicated, because the mystery actually had me guessing, but this is a well executed pure cozy in a great series. Recommended.

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Full review to come on Goodreads and Amazon. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for a review copy.

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Primer and punishment is a new twist to flipping a house, this time its a houseboat. Interesting characters and a murder to follow with lots of twists and motivation to unravel.

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Whitney and her cousin Buck flip houses for a living but this time they’ve purchased a houseboat to rehab. They plan to live on the boat during the renovation in order to finish before Buck’s wedding. They weren’t counting on the boat in the next slip exploding with the owner on board.

This is a fun mystery with plenty of suspects to wade through and the unusual setting was interesting. I hope there will be more books in the series.

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What a take on flipping houses. Whitney and Buck are trying to flip a houseboat but it is not as easy as it sounds they witness a horrific accident and then things start rolling. Really enjoyed this fun cozy mystery and look forward to reading more from this author.

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I have read all the books in the series, and this is very good. Whitney and Buck decide to flip a houseboat which is different for them.
Grant is living on the boat next to them and is killed when the boat blows up. Several people confess and it is up to Whitney to try and help figure out who really did it.
I really enjoyed the book and the mystery. We get to read about all the characters we have met in the series -- I recommend this series and any book by Diane Kelly. – Love the cat’s point of view too!

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I received a copy of #PrimerandPunishment from #NetGalley , breaking my own rule of not getting books from an established series that I hadn't read. I made an exception because this book, the fourth in the House Flipped series, is written by Diane Kelly and other books I'd read by her are excellent.
I am so glad I did! The book stands incredibly well on its own, it's easy to get to know and like the characters, and the mystery itself is complex and intriguing. As an intrepid assistant to my husband through the renovations of our two houses, I found this book full of instances to which I can relate.
The book is well written and fast paced, as well as entertaining from start to finish.

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I will leave a review on Amazon and B&N on Feb 21st

In general this was a really good cozy mystery. I found the storyline to certainly be one that was a new one for me, who would have ever thought of flipping a house boat for resale. I had not read any of the previous books with these characters, but that did not make it hard to follow along after the storyline. I would recommend it to others.

I received an ARC from NetGalley amd St. Martin's Press for free. and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Whitney Whittaker and her cousin Buck's next rehab project is a houseboat. They've never done one before but think that they can do a quick turnaround. They need something quick because Buck's wedding to Whitney's best friend Colette is coming soon.

While they are working on the houseboat, they meet the guy whose boat is in the next slip. Grant Hardisty seems like a handsome and charming guy who is dealing with an injury to his knee. He has a black lab mix puppy who is a bit too much for him to handle. He also has a string of ex-wives and a number of women he's met on dating apps. Oh, and the couple he cheated out of the boat are also coming around often to try to get their boat back.

When Grant takes his boat out of the slip to grill his dinner and not mess up Whitney and Buck's new paint, his boat explodes. Fire investigators don't think that it was an accident. There are numerous suspects and, oddly, a number of them confess to killing Grant. When one of them confesses to the Nashville Police Department, Whitney's boyfriend Collin is assigned to the case.

Whitney begins looking around because she doesn't believe the confession one of the suspects gives. She liked the woman and didn't want to believe she'd killed her soon-to-be ex. Whitney finds a number of suspicious characters that she feels had a better motive for Grant's death.

This was another fun episode in this contemporary cozy series.

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Primer and Punishment is the 5th installment in the House Flipper Mysteries set in Nashville, Tennessee. Whitney Whitaker and her cousin, Buck Whitaker, have decided to flip a houseboat called The Skinny Dipper located on Old Hickory Lake. They believe it will be a quick, uneventful flip. And while it doesn't take long to refurbish the boat, there is an extraordinary event that happens to the boat in the adjoining slip. To make things even more interesting, numerous people confess to the crime. Using her intuition and natural sleuthing skills, Whitney is able to help law enforcement catch the wrong-doer. What makes the book more fun is the wedding festivities for Whitney's best friend, Collette, and her cousin Buck. I can't wait to try the recipe the author has included for Mermaid Paradise Punch!

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This is an awesome and funny cozy mystery. I absolutely love that one of the story point of views is from a cat. Whitney and Buck are cousins who flip houses. They also find themselves solving cases. When an explosion happens in front of them they become a part of the investigation. The cast of characters are brilliant and funny. The story plot is entertaining with witty repertoire. It is a worthy page turner that also has romantic undertones.

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Oh my goodness, I loved the fact that Buck and Whitney were rehabbing a boathouse! What a twist on the usual house flipper, and the different scenery was so fun! I always enjoy how much description Kelly puts into her stories of the actual repair/rehabbing process. It truly makes you feel like you're right there in the story with Buck and Whitney.
The only thing is I wish the ending wasn't rushed. It felt like Collin was hardly a part of this book, other than a few mentioned dates that weren't really described, so it felt really rushed/came as a surprise when he proposed to Whitney at the end and she said yes. It felt like, as a reader, I didn't really get to know him before they got engaged. I hope to see more of his character in the future, though, to get to know him!

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Kindle Copy for Review from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press.

I received a free, advance copy of this book and this is my unbiased and voluntary review.

Whitney and Buck are renovating an old houseboat but get more than they bargained for.

While spray painting the neighboring boat suddenly explodes. Seems the handsome owner might have made a few enemies as they will soon find out. What secrets will they discover might lead to a killer?

Delightful story that moves along.

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Cousins Whitney and Buck are house-flippers embarking on a project unlike any they've done before: a houseboat. All that's needed are a new motor, generator and cosmetic updates that can be done in a few weeks. That is a good thing since Buck is getting married soon. Easy-peasy, right? So it seems until an incident involving the boat in the adjacent slip throws a wrench into Whitney and Buck's construction plan. Without spoiling by going into the specific crime I'll just say this was an interesting and fun cozy. I enjoyed the different directions the plot took which kept me on my toes. I appreciated the possible suspects and red herrings added into the mix. I got to the point where I gave up trying to solve the crime and just enjoyed the ride to the solution. Honestly, that is the way it usually works out for me, ha. I think fans of the series will love the book. It's the first I've had the pleasure to read and I didn't feel lost.

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