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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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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Another great installment in the series. I love that each book gives the characters new adventures without straying too far from what is expected of them. I don't know what they are going to be able to fix up next, but I love all the different locations. I also love that Whitney and Colin are going to get their happily ever after. I was a little upset after the first book how fast Buck and Collette went from not even dating to being engaged. As someone who took 9 years to get engaged I know different people are ready at different times, but I wanted Whitney to get her happily ever after.

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Primer and Punishment by Diane Kelly is book #5 in the House-Flipper Mystery series. I never imagined house-flippers would set their sights and talents on flipping a house boat. Made me think about finding a house boat to rent for a vacation. Aside from that, of course, Whitney and Buck, two of the main characters, have a murder mystery to solve at the marina where the house boat is anchored. I was totally engrossed in the story. Kept turning the pages. I just had to see what happened next. This was a fun read. I especially enjoyed the ending. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series


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3.5 stars

Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck renovate and flip houses for a living. In this tale, they take on a houseboat as a project. It is refreshing to see a female doing construction work competently.

Their neighbor in the marina where the boat is stored is a hot mess -- multiple ex wives, a history of touching up friends and strangers for cash, lawsuits, and (maybe) a crippling knee injury that stops him from working. But nobody expected his boat to blow up one day out on the lake with him aboard.

Given his checkered history, there are no lack of suspects. Whit's boyfriend is a detective and she and Buck are witnesses so she is quite involved.

Meanwhile, Buck and Whit's best friend are getting married in a couple of weeks and much planning is taking place. These are undemanding reads with pleasant characters. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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I enjoyed this; it was a solid mystery with lots of red herrings to keep me guessing. I haven’t read the other four books in the series which made it a little hard to connect to the characters. I wasn’t a huge fan of the chapters from the cat’s perspective, although I’m sure that is something in the whole series. Overall though, I think I would enjoy reading more.

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Primer and Punishment is the fifth book in the House-Flipper Mystery series by Diane Kelly but is the first in the series that I have read. The characters were entertaining, choosing to flip a houseboat in this story. While the characters have a history one couple is now engaged it did not seem to hinder not knowing first hand their history. I enjoyed the mystery as just as it was for me a stand-alone but now hoping to read more of Whitney and Buck.

I had been following and enjoying another series by Diane Kelly, Mountain Lodge main character has boys who are now in college, so she is older than Whitney and her cousin Buck. Primer and Punishment perhaps would appeal to all age groups since the main characters were younger, amiable, hardworking, full of energy and ideas. I certainly enjoyed these characters enthusiasm for their work and for life in general.

The plot is high interest with an explosion of a boat nearby that has the owner in it. However, it is how the suspects react that is so very interesting. I wanted to be right with Whitney helping the police to solve this case. Young characters or older ones, Diane Kelly can entertain me any time with her cozy mysteries.

An ARC of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley which I voluntarily chose to read and reviewed. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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In "Primer and Punishment", Whitney and Buck are looking to add a new challenge to their house flipping business. This time, they take on a houseboat, eager to refurbish it and sell it at a profit. The project brings a few surprises, including the charismatic but troubled neighbor, Grant Hardisty. When Grant's boat explodes and he dies, Whitney and Buck are drawn into the investigation and find themselves tangled up in a web of secrets and motives, with many suspects confessing to the murder. Whitney, using her natural sleuthing skills, sets out to solve the mystery and find the true killer.

As Whitney delves deeper into the case, she uncovers a host of suspect motives, including revenge, greed, and jealousy. With so many people confessing, Whitney has to use all her detective skills to determine the truth. The author, Diane Kelly, keeps the readers engaged with the mystery, while also offering glimpses into Whitney's personal life and the events leading up to Buck's wedding.

Overall, "Primer and Punishment" is an entertaining mystery that keeps the reader engaged from start to finish. With a charming cast of characters, a charming setting, and plenty of twists and turns, it's an enjoyable read for fans of the cozy mystery genre.

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Diane Kelly has added a new dimension to her house flipper mysteries. In Primer and Punishment, Whitney and her cousin Buck are refurbishing a boat rather than a house and of course find a murder to solve. A fun addition to the series.

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Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are changing things up and doing a flip on a house boat this time. Their boat neighbors seems to have made a lot of people angry especially his ex wives. When his boat explodes right in front of Buck and Whitney, she realizes that the killer isn’t one of the several people who have confessed to the crime.

Diane Kelly is written many cozy mysteries and it is easy to tell she knows how to craft an entertaining mystery. Whitney is a confident woman who comes across relatable and nice. She also has good observation and reasoning skills which allows her flush out the real killer. The dialog is witty and kept light. There are plenty of suspects to sort through and I liked Whitney’s methodical method of ruling out suspects.

Thank you St Martin’s Press for the advanced copy yo review.

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I love this series and this book is no exception! Whitney and Buck are flipping a new to them type of ‘house’, a houseboat! We get plenty of details about lake life to go along with their murder investigation.
The murder investigation is complicated by the number of people that the victim defrauded. There were so many suspects and even a few false confessions. The false confession was different from other cozies I have read and I liked that. The solution was unexpected, but there had been clues that I didn’t pick up on originally.
At the end we get a lovely family event to experience. This would be a great read to get you ready for lake season!

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This was a good solid mystery. I read the first one in this series a while ago and didn't love it but the series has improved a lot. I really enjoyed this one. It can certainly be read as a stand alone. The mystery was solid and the writing was good. I love the house flipper aspect of the mystery.

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Who really killed Grant? That's the unusual question facing Whitney, her cousin Buck, and mostly her love interest Detective Collin, who has the case after several people confess to blowing up his boat. Whitney and Buck have taken on an different sort of flip job this time out- a houseboat- and while they only spent a little time with Grant, they are interested in this case because well, they like to investigate. It's pretty standard for a cozy that a murder victim has multiple people who disliked him but not that more than one confess and that's what made this a fun read. That and the characters (including the cat). I'm a fan of the series and am pleased to see growth in everyone but new readers will be fine with this as a standalone. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Looking forward to the next one.

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So the book's description says Grant is charming, but there's nothing charming about him at all; it isn't hard to see why he had five ex-wives and why he's failing at finding a new one. I felt a little bad for him for having injured his leg and being so tight on finances, but he really played up the injury to absolve himself of any responsibility. Not charming. When his boat blew up and he was blown to pieces - literally - I wasn't exactly sad. But of course, Whitney and Buck find themselves in their fifth murder investigation. I guess Buck won't be seeing that 60 bucks he lended Grant ever again.

Primer and Punishment also takes place in the weeks before Buck's wedding to Whitney's roommate. They're planning bachelor/ette parties to take place on their houseboat before they sell it and the end of the book is the wedding itself. If you've read all the books to this point, this is the true charming part of the book. However, I want to point out that even though this is fifth in a series and the character's relationships are developing, you would have no problem dropping in to read this as a standalone. In fact, I think the houseboat setting easily makes this the best book of the series thus far.

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After their last flip, Buck and Whitney are looking for more rehab and less dead-body chic.

Buck has a line on a flip that is way outside of their wheelhouse. A houseboat. Named the Skinny Dipper. It definitely needs work and the possibilities are exciting.

Their neighbor is a hunky guy who lives on a cabin cruiser and seems to leave trails of broken exes in his wake.

Grant may be charming and hunky, but it’s quickly obvious he rubs a lot of folks the wrong way. So when his boat goes Boom!, Detective Flynn has a boatload of suspects. And they all want to confess. What?? Whitney is about to dive in without a life preserver to find a killer. Or they may all be going under.

If you love HGTV shows, this is the series for you. House Flipper cousins? Yes, Please. And the location is Nashville. The relationships are real and fun and hello! they fix up old houses. Winner!

NetGalley/ February 21, 2023, St.Martin's Press

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Whitney and Buck decide to change things up a bit and work on a houseboat flip. The boat comes with a rare private slip and a spiral slide and they can't wait to get their hands on it! Unfortunately they soon discover that their new houseboat also comes with a con-artist neighbor who spices things up in more ways than one.

Grant Hardisty makes a few enemies by hunting for vulnerable older women he can wine, dine, marry, and make miserable. But these unlucky ladies aren't the only ones with a bone to pick with the affable Grant. When his boat gets blown out of the water, and Grant along with it, narrowing down the suspect list quickly becomes an enormous task. But Whitney is up for it, after all, Tucker and the loveable JoJo are depending on her!

I haven't read any other books in this series, but I most definitely will after this! There was nothing in the book that was at all hard to follow without knowing the backstory of the characters and I also didn't feel like I was missing out on anything by now knowing what might have happened to them before this book took place. I'm a huge fan of Diane Kelly and this series, though maybe not my favorite (yet), is definitely one I'm going to read from the beginning.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC.

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Ka-boom!!! What an exciting outing in the House-flipper cozy mystery series by Diane Kelly! Buck, Whitney Whitaker's cousin and partner in their rehab business, has chosen a fixer-upper houseboat for their next project. Things start off well as they begin the work and soon they meet the guy who owns the boat in the next slip named Grant Hardisty. He is a charming manipulator with five ex-wives and a bum knee injured in a fall. Buck learns quickly that Grant is not to be trusted.

When the situation explodes, Whitney can't help but feel responsible for pointing the police in the wrong direction, so she steps in try to help find the guilty party. The story is told from Whitney's first person perspective but occasionally Whitney's cat Sawdust chimes in with his own charming observations.

The plot is well fleshed out with several possibilities but remains light-hearted and filled with interesting characters and fun situations as Whitney and her friends get ready for Buck and Colette's wedding. They want to have the houseboat finished in time to host both the bachelorette and bachelor parties in grand style.

Such a charming ending! Can't wait to see what happens next in Whitney's life. As always, the cover art is adorable and many thanks to the author for including two delicious-sounding recipes at the end of the book.

I received an arc from the author and publisher via NetGalley. Many thanks for the opportunity. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.

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Delightful and engaging. with feline support as house flippers turn to boat flippers. See my complete review at

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Primer and Punishment: A House-Flipper Mystery
By Diane Kelly
St. Martin’s
February 23, 2023

Review by Cynthia Chow

Whitney and Buck Whittaker’s new house-flipping project is still technically a house, but this will be the first time the cousins are attempting to rehab a worn-down houseboat floating in a Nashville, Tennessee river. While this has Whitney researching and Youtubing videos on the proper paints and sealants required to keep The Skinny Dipper from leaking water, it’s their neighbor in the slip next to them who proves to be the bigger challenge. The many-times-married Grant Hardisty seems to maintain his lifestyle by living off of lawsuits and his ex-wives, not to mention borrowing dinner funds from a wary Buck. After one-too-many late night parties and being kept up by Grant’s dog barking, the cousins ask Grant to take The Sexy Sheila out further on the water to prevent the smells of his grilled fish from permeating into their fresh paint jobs. It’s extremely fortunate that they did, as otherwise Whitney and Buck would have been more than just knocked off of their feet when Grant’s boat explodes, along with him in it.

Equally fortuitous was Whitney’s allowing Grant’s stepson to sneak their black lab mix off of The Sexy Sheila the night before, as she agreed with the teenaged Tanner that being left tied up on the boat outside all night was no life for the whining dog. The timing doesn’t look too good though when Deputy Fire Marshal Melanie Landreth reports that the explosion was caused by arson, and it’s not long before Tanner’s mother confesses to the crime. She isn’t the only one to attempt to take the blame for the explosion though, and when Whitney’s inflatable duck has its throat slashed she doesn’t hesitate to continue her own investigation into their houseboat neighbor’s death.

This 5th in the series continues to alternate chapters narrated by Whitney and her cat Sawdust, whose feline’s viewpoints are rather brief and decidedly catlike. When not tracking down the multitude of Grant’s exes or his baffling success at online dating, Whitney attends the bridal and wedding parties for Buck and her best friend Collette. Whitney’s own boyfriend Detective Collin Flynn is not only on the case, he respects her judgment as she questions those involved in Grant’s life. In between bridal gown fittings and the restoration of their houseboat-flipping project, Whitney and her friends track down a bottle of Gil’s Fish Flavoring, find the source of explosive ice packs, and sort out false confessions. The affectionate nature and close bond between Whitney and her cousin is revealed through their good-natured teasing and affectionate banter, not to mention Whitney’s genuine delight as her best friend becomes an even closer part of their family. Details about boat repair and motors are made as intriguing as the mystery over who blew up the blow-hard, making this another fun and rewarding entry in Diane Kelly’s expansive list of humorous, fast-paced cozy mysteries.

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I did not realize when I got this from NetGalley that it was the fifth in a mystery series. I picked it because the cover suggested cozy mystery, and that's pretty much what you get. I read cozies when I wake at one a.m. and can't get back to sleep, and this story was perfect for that.

The two main characters are fun, there is a thread of romance, and there is even a cat inserted, because I guess cats are a hot item in cozy mysteries now. The cat chapters didn't add anything to the story, but that was okay--the rest was a fun read, which is all I asked for.

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Primer and Punishment Is the fifth A House-Flipper Mystery. It can be read as a standalone for those new to the series or if you have missed a book. I was immediately drawn into this engaging cozy mystery. I liked Whitney and Buck’s latest flip. It was interesting learning about a houseboat. I can certainly see the perks to living on one. Buck and Collette (Whitney’s roommate and friend) are getting married. There is wedding planning and preparations for their bachelor and bachelorette parties. The houseboat is the perfect venue for both parties. Whitney finds herself drawn into the murder of Grant Hardisty, the man who lived on the houseboat next to them. Whitney ends up with a lengthy suspect list. Grant had a string of ex-wives and owed money to several people. The mystery kept Whitney hopping. I enjoyed piecing together the clues and identifying the bad guy. I was delighted with the stimulating reveal. Sawdust had a good time on the houseboat. He was not a fan, though, of his life vest. He did enjoy getting to meet a new friend. The chapters from Sawdust’s point-of-view are entertaining (they make you smile and laugh). The ending of Primer and Punishment will delight fans of the series. Primer and Punishment is a cute cozy with a feline in a life vest, a joyful JoJo, party planning, a slain smooth talker, an overhauled houseboat, a wonderful wedding, and a special surprise.

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The next in the series with a new house to rehab and flip but this one is a houseboat that is in desperate need of repair and tlc. When a chance meeting helps they dive into a romance. This is a cheeky series that anyone will enjoy

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Primer and Punishment the 5th instalment in the House Flipper Mysteries series by Diane Kelly. This is 4th book I have read in the series, and it can be read as a standalone.

Whitney Whitaker has a knack for nailing down murderers . . . but this time she might just come unmoored.

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. I like how the series continues to alternate chapters narrated by Whitney and her cat Sawdust.

This time around they are flipping an old rundown houseboat and living on it during the repairs. It becomes a great place to hold the bachelorette and bachelor parties, have some fun out on the water. I like where the characters are heading in their personal live too. 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 highly recommend to all my cozy mystery loving friends.

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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I really enjoyed the setting of this one! I mean, renovating a houseboat?! How fun!! It reminds me of the couple of family vacations we took on a houseboat on Lake Powell!

I liked the cousin duo, Whitney & Buck. Their relationship was great to see. They picked on each other (teasing like) but you can tell their business relationship meshes well together. They make a great team!

I’ve never read a cozy mystery where there is another point of view. And this one has about 9 chapters about a page long of Whitney’s cat, Sawdust. Does it add anything to the storyline? Not really. Is it a cute little addition though? Yep!

This was a fun cozy mystery! I definitely want to go and read books 1-4 now. I really like the house flipping aspect and the characters. Can’t wait to learn more about them.

Thank you St. Martin’s Press & Netgalley for the eARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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This was a good mystery. I really liked Whitney and Buck. Whitney and Buck decided to do something different. They bought a houseboat to renovate. There is a guy in the boat slip next door that looked like he might be a good neighbor, but as they spend time on the boat, they find that he isn't all that great. He seems to have too many exes and he owes money to several people, including Buck. He has a great dog that should be somewhere with a yard to run. It seems when his current wife threw him out of the house, he moved to the boat. There is always someone looking for him because he owes them money, or he is trying out dating sites. When his boat blows up after Buck asked him to move the boat away because of the smoke from cooking next to their boat, Whitney can't help looking into who actually murdered him. The man's wife and stepson seem to be the likely suspects, but there a quite a few others who had good reason to see him dead. Can they find the murderer?

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This was such a fun cozy mystery! I really enjoyed tagging along as Whitney and her cousin Buck renovated a houseboat. Even though this is book 5 in the series I had no trouble following along with the characters. The mystery was twisty enough to keep me guessing! I’m looking forward to reading books 1-4 of this series.

Thank you to St. Martin's Paperbacks and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Amateur sleuth Whitney returns with her cousin Buck, and this time they're flipping a houseboat! But where these two go, bodies seem to turn up, and in this episode the houseboat next door blows up while the owner is onboard. Even more unsettling, four people have confessed, though none are the actual criminal. Will Collin and Whitney solve the case before Whitney and Buck are the next victims?

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This 5th installment in the House-Flipper cozy mystery series was entertaining and kept me guessing until the end. Whitney and her cousin Buck are renovating a houseboat in preparation to flip it, but keep having run-ins with the owner of the boat in the next slip. There is no end to potential murderers once the body appears, as the story takes turn after turn. I particularly enjoyed the chapters from Sawdust the cat's POV! This is the first book I've read in the series, but I was immersed into the story right from the beginning, and I'll definitely read more in the series. Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the advance digital copy!

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Whitney and her cousin are flipping a houseboat in this book. A loud boat owner next to them begins to create problems and finally ends up dead. Lots of suspects and plenty of reasons for people to kill the guy, but only Whitney can get to the true solution. A well written story with plenty of intrigue and motive for murder. I enjoy this series and its continued growth of the characters. It's a comfortable book and a good read!

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Carpenters and cousins Whitney and Buck are hunting for their next project. They are house flippers and love a challenge. Buck has just the property - a houseboat. Whitney is on board with the purchase so they gather up her cat Sawdust and move onto the boat, planning on living on it while doing the renovations. Too bad the neighbor in the next slip turns out to be a real slime. With numerous ex-wives and shady financial dealings for a start, it isn't long before one of his many enemies blows his boat to Kingdom come, taking him with it. The list of suspects is long but more than one of them steps forward to tell the police "I did it". That isn't usually the case and Whiney and Buck are drawn into the investigation. It's a well crafted puzzle to solve complete with plenty of red herrings to trip up the armchair detective. I enjoyed every page as I have with each of the five books - so far - in the series.
My thanks to the publisher St, Martin's and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

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This flipper duo never allows their work to get boring. A delightful change of pace using a houseboat as the house flipper. Interesting location and characters. Terrific series and great addition. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary.

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Twinkle twinkle little star…

I haven’t read the previous books in this series and I didn’t feel lost or anything. This series can truly be read as a stand-alone.

This series is perfect for cozy mystery readers. It’s cute and has a good mystery! Whitney and Buck flip homes together.
For this installment they are flipping a house boat. One of their neighbors, is a sleazeball and he ends up being murdered.
The narrator, Courtney Patterson did a wonderful job using a variety of tones and inflections portraying the characters. She was a perfect voice for Whitney.
At times I found Whitney to be a bit meddlesome, but without her no one would have gotten the clues.
The story kept me engaged and it had a sweet ending as well.

✨Special thanks to Netgalley, Tantor Media, and St. Martins Press for the gifted copy and ALC in exchange for an honest review.

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Primer and Punishment is the 5th in Diane Kelly’s House Flipper Mystery series. It’s a fun cozy with an interesting premise. In this one, cousins Whitney and Buck are flipping a houseboat! The boat, named Skinny Dipper, is docked next to the Sexy Sheila, occupied by Grant, a charming and manipulative man with more ex-wives than fish on his hook. When Sexy Sheila explodes with Grant aboard, there is no shortage of suspects – or confessions. With the police convinced they have the culprit behind bars, it’s up to Whitney to find the real killer. A position she is apparently no stranger to finding herself in.

Primer and Punishment is my first foray into this series, but picking up five books into the series was quite seamless. The characters were likable and well-rounded. The plot chugs along at a good pace. I’ll happily go back and read the previous four books.

I received this Advanced Reader Copy of Primer and Punishment from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#PrimerandPunishmentBook #NetGalley

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I've read one previous book in the series but have missed the other three. While I'm usually a fan of reading a series in order I really didn't feel that going into this kind of blind detracted from my enjoyment at all. The relationship between the characters is fairly simple so there's not a lot of complicated backstory to keep track of or figure out.

Whitney and her cousin Buck flip houses but when the housing market takes off leaving few properties available they decide to try something a little out of their comfort zone - flipping a houseboat. I really enjoyed their time working on the boat. Buck and Whitney are nice people if not the biggest personalities and are both capable at their profession. Their neighbor, Grant, is a much bigger personality and at first seems like a nice guy but as Whitney and Buck get to know him better they quickly learn that the nice affable front is merely that - a front. When Grant meets his untimely end the real question isn't who would want to kill him but which one of the potential dozens of suspects actually did it.

The ending was satisfying though felt a little rushed and it was fun to see it all come together. This is an entertaining light read with a nice summer-y setting and I thought the little add-ins by Whitney's cat Sawdust were adorable.

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In the 5th installment of the cozy series ( House Flipper Mysteries) - Primer and Punishment - Whitney and her house flipping partner/cousin Buck have decided to try something different. They bought a house boat to try and do a renovation on and flip. While working on the boat they meet their boat neighbor, Grant. Grant is going through a divorce and has a decent sized list of people that aren’t happy with him. Shortly after meeting their neighbor, his boat explodes and Grant is killed.

Whitney sets out to figure out who could have disliked Grant so much that they would kill him. As any good amateur sleuth would do, Whitney has been noticing all of the visitors to the docks and their possible connection to Grant. Her help is actually appreciated by law enforcement this time which puts her in an uncomfortable spot of potentially being the star witness in the murder trial.

I enjoyed this quick read. It was a nice, light book to read at the end of a stressful week. I received the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I read this book in basically one sitting. I am absolutely going to go back to read the others in this series. A fabulous mystery with the fun adventure of flipping a house (or houseBOAT in this case). And some chapters narrated by the adorable cat Sawdust?! Absolutely wins in my book. The characters were charming and believable as people, the story had twists I didn’t expect and it kept me engaged. Loved it!

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Whitney Whitaker is a little surprised by her cousin Buck’s latest suggestion for their property-flipping business. He has his eye on a three-bedroom, two bath property: the sweet spot for any house flipper, with its wide appeal to various house-hunting demographics. The only catch, so to speak, is that this promising new fixer-upper just happens to be a houseboat.

Our renovating duo have never tackled anything like this before but figure that their experience, plus YouTube, will help them figure it out as they go along. What they don’t expect is to be berthed next to an injured ladies man who seems to spend as much time dodging folks as he does hosting them on his party boat. Grant Hardisty has not only suffered a knee injury that’s made it impossible for him to keep working as a bartender but is also going through a protracted divorce. His most loyal friend seems to be his sweet, energetic dog Jojo. Unfortunately, Grant’s injury means he can’t exercise Jojo as much as he should, leading to Whitney impulsively volunteering to help out. She quickly learns to regret this though, as Grant seems to lean on her and Buck more and more for things he should probably be able to do for himself.

On the plus side, he will move his boat when asked. As Grant is prepping to fire up his grill one day while the Whitakers are busy priming and painting, Buck asks if he wouldn’t mind moving further out into the lake so that the smoke won’t smudge their work. Grant is amenable and heads out. Shortly after, his boat explodes in a tremendous fireball.

Shocked and heart-sick, the Whitakers are very eager to cooperate with investigators, led by Deputy Fire Marshal Melanie Landreth. Unfortunately, Whitney’s own boyfriend, Homicide Detective Collin Flynn of the Metro Nashville Police Department, is forced to get involved when several people start showing up at his precinct, all confessing to Grant’s murder. Grant certainly wasn’t the most popular guy around, but could any of these people really have hated him enough to kill him in such a spectacular fashion? As the noose tightens around one of the self-confessed murderers, Whitney starts to suspect that not all is as it seems. Will she be able to help the police find the real killer before a murderer decides to get rid of her too?

This was another fun installment of the House-Flipper mystery series, with humorous, believable banter and delightful relationships between the main cast members. The romances are all strictly G-rated, even as our characters prepare for Buck’s wedding to Whitney’s best friend Collette. Crime-fighting wise, I really liked how Collin assured his sleuthing girlfriend that the police rely on the public’s help for tips in breaking cases, even as he worries over her safety. Fortunately, her inquisitiveness doesn’t lead to too much recklessness, in my opinion anyway.

There were two recipes included here, one for a drink, and one for appropriately-themed baked goods:

Life-Preserver Donuts

Box of white cake mix
2 cups applesauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons vanilla extract, separated (one for the cake mix and one for the icing)
16-ounce package of powdered sugar
Red food coloring
¼ cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together cake mix, applesauce, ginger, and one tablespoon vanilla extract in a bowl until well blended. Spoon mixture into a donut pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until lightly brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the donuts comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow donuts to cool.

Mix powdered sugar with one teaspoon vanilla extract and ¼ cup water. Stir until well blended. Move half of the frosting into a separate bowl and add red food coloring. Stir until the red frosting is of uniform color. Frost donuts in eight stripes of equal width, alternating white and red frosting.

In all honesty (and even before Ben Affleck’s adorable commercial recently aired,) I haven’t been able to even look at cake donuts since a Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru opened in my area. But I still wanted to stay on theme, so decided to bake this as a bundt cake instead! The cake itself was very easy to put together. I did have to bake it at a slightly lower temperature for a longer time, due to the different presentation I chose, but it came out tasting deliciously moist, with a wonderful apple-ginger flavor my entire family enjoyed.

The frosting helped, too, even if we accidentally bought pink food coloring instead of red. I kept adding more food coloring to the mix in hopes it would turn red, but it just grew a louder shade of pink. As is usually the case with recipes like these, the frosting is on the sweeter side, so feel free to adjust as necessary.

Next week, we cozy up to a trio of seasonal novellas from some of my favorite authors while whipping up one of my favorite dishes. Do join me!

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Cousins Buck and Whitney are trying a new challenge - flipping a houseboat. Fortunately, it should go quickly so they will not have to put up with Grant, an annoying neighbor, for long. However, Grant seems to have irritated a lot of people and when his boat explodes there are a number of suspects. The unusual thing is that there are also a number of confessions.

I really enjoy this series with the unique flips and great friend and family relationships. Sawdust, the cat, also has some cute little chapters giving his perspective. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC. The opinions expressed are my own.

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This might just be my fave of the series so far with a murder mystery set on a lake and with Whit's bestie Colette getting married soon. That was a pretty cool flip and a great idea Buck had to buy and rehab an old houseboat. They were definitely lucky Buck had the foresight to ask the neighbor to move his boat out while he grilled, or Whitney and Buck could've ended up in the same shape as their neighbor which wasn't too good!

I was really surprised by the killer since I had someone else in mind. The showdown was exciting and Collin ended up getting his perp. But he'd be sure to tell everyone that Whitney had lots to do with pointing him in the right direction. I liked Dep. Fire Marshal Landreth's character. She was fair and actually was very open to Whit and Buck as far as accepting info on the case.

The events following the murder solving were just fun and the ending of the book was so darn sweet. Now I really can't wait for the next book!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by St. Martin Paperbacks via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.

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This was a super cute cozy mystery, I haven't read the first 4 books, but I definitely want to. This book had a great mystery and there was no end of suspects who wanted Grant dead, and endless red herrings so it kept you guessing who the killer actually was.
I loved the houseboat setting! It was fun and different and I loved learning all about them along with Whitney and Buck. I also really enjoyed the random povs from Sawdust. while it didn't really add anything to the story it was super cute, and I like to think it's how cats actually think lol.
I'm looking forward to what comes next and checking out what happened in the previous books.

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I very much enjoyed this cozy mystery. I liked the setting on a houseboat; who hasn’t wanted to live on one for a bit? I also found the main characters to be engaging.

Whitney and Buck are fixing up the said houseboat. Next to them is another boat and its owner, Grant. When Grant dies in a blast, the stakes of being on the lake rise considerably. Will our protagonists figure out what happened to their neighbor? Of course, they will. The fun is in watching them do so.

This book is part of a series but can be read as a standalone. However, after reading this entry, readers may want to go back to the first four books.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisehr for this title. All opinions are my own.

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Primer and Punishment is book five in the House-Flipper Mystery series. I've only read a couple of the books, but they easily stand-alone. It's a fun and interesting series featuring cousins Whitney and Buck, who flip houses together.

This time around the duo decides flipping a houseboat would be fun. Living on a boat while renovating it, what could possibly go wrong? A lot apparently when the houseboat belonging to their annoying next door neighbor explodes! Now in addition to flipping their houseboat, Whitney is determined to figure out who could have wanted their neighbor dead, and why.

This was a very well-written cozy mystery with great characters, interesting mystery/storyline, plenty of red herrings to keep a reader guessing....and a very cool cat named Sawdust. I enjoyed it very much.

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.

#NetGalley #PrimerAndPunishment

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Primer and Punishment is book #5 in the House-Flipper Mystery series by Diane Kelly.

Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck flip houses and this time they decide to flip a houseboat. They make the acquaintance of the man living on the boat next to them and they witness the mess of his life. When he dies, there are not only several suspects but also several confessions.

I enjoy this series. Whitney, Buck, Collette, Collin, and Sawdust are wonderful characters. The Sawdust chapters are entertaining and I’m very mindful about my phone now! I experienced a variety of emotions while reading this. There were so many twists in the case! I can’t wait for the next book!

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

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The plot is intriguing and makes for a hard to put down read. I really enjoyed the lead up to Grant's death in a fiery explosion as it gives the reader a few suspects and motives. Whitney makes a passionate if not spot on amateur detective. The asides from Sawdust (Whitney's cat) are adorable and break up the action packed storyline well.
Overall, a 4/5 star rating and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work in the future.

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This was another fantastic mystery! I loved watching Whitney and Buck renovate a houseboat, and the murder that they get pulled into because it was the guy in the slip next to them. It was such an entertaining read! Plus there was a quick mention of two of her other series with the explosions, which was really awesome!

Grant was awful! No wonder there was no end of suspects! He was a user, a grifter, who wanted a sugar mama to take care of him basically, which means that he was working on his 5th divorce when he was killed. Besides that, he had some really questionable money borrowing practices. And an insurance claim for an injured knee. So many possibilities!

I really enjoyed watching the investigation unfold. There were many clues, but the question was, which ones lead to his murder, and not just bad feelings? The way things worked out, I loved how it was figured out!

Throughout the book, we had a lot of the events leading up to Colette and Buck's wedding, the bridal shower and bachelorette and bachelor parties, as well as their plans for once they were married. And then we got see their wedding! So that was very sweet to read! And oh, that last chapter! Loved it!

I had such a great time reading this book, and I can't wait for the next adventure!

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Normally, when I see a book is late in a series, I skip it. But as another reviewer commented, there was something about it being on a houseboat that intrigued me. So, I picked this book up and I'm not sorry I did!

I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, the characters, and the multiple confessions that muddied the waters of trying to identify the real killer. Well done!

I look forward to subsequent books in the series.

Thank you to Diane Kelly, St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an advance review copy.

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When Whitney Whitaker talked to her cousin Buck about their next flipper project, she was glad to hear that he already had a good idea of what they should rehab. It’s a three bedroom, two bath, with a two-story deck. When she asks the square footage, and he says it’s about 600 square feet, Whitney is stumped. But then he explains that it’s a houseboat, and that makes perfect sense to her.

The Skinny Dipper needs some updating and some repairs, and it lists a little to one side, but it’s a bargain of real estate and they could turn it around quickly. The bones of the boat are good. They just need to fix the leak that’s causing the tilt, repaint, and update the inside, and the boat will be good for a quick sale. And when Whitney realizes that once they get it fixed it up, it will be the perfect spot for a bachelorette party for her best friend and Buck’s fiancée Colette, Whitney is all in.

They decide to live on the boat for the two weeks or so it will take them to fix it up. The marina is on Old Hickory Lake, just north of Nashville, so Whitney and Buck pack some bags and all the tools and equipment they’ll need to finish the boat and head out. Whitney also takes one more thing, her cat Sawdust, who will get to enjoy a couple of weeks of lake life too. Although when Sawdust is not locked inside the cabin, Whitney makes sure Sawdust has a life jacket on. Sawdust isn’t sure about it at first, but the smell of the fishes and the birds flying overhead is just too much of a draw to object.

As Whitney and Buck are getting settled into the boar, they meet a well dressed woman asking about the empty slip next to the Skinny Dipper. She’s looking for a man named Grant Hardisty, but the cousins haven’t been there long enough to have met him. The woman leaves, and later a boat docks in the empty spot.

The Sexy Sheila is the boat, and a man using a cane to walk introduces himself as Grant and his dog as JoJo. He invites them over for a beer, and they get to know him a little. He’s a bartender who got injured a couple of months back and hadn’t been able to work. He was dating, talking about which dating apps he was using. He borrows $60 from Buck for a date he has later, and Whitney offers to take his dog for a walk for him. JoJo has a lot of energy, but she’s fond of dogs and wants him to have a chance to stretch his legs after being cooped up on the boat.

As the days go by, and Buck and Whitney get things shipshape on the Skinny Dipper, they can’t help but notice what goes on in the next boat. They witness some fights between Grant and friends and later between Grant and his soon-to-be ex-wife. They see him going out fishing with friends, and ducking from the friend he borrowed money from (Buck had already figured out that he wasn’t getting his cash back). And then, on the day that they are putting primer on the boat, they see his entire boat go up in flames. There was a huge explosion that knocks Sawdust off the boat (thank goodness for that life jacket).

Whitney talks to a Deputy Fire Marshall, telling the woman everything she had seen since they had taken residence on the Skinny Dipper. From what Whitney tells her, she suspects that the fire was deliberately set. But was someone trying to kill Grant or just destroy the boat? And while Grant had a way of getting people angry with him, is one of those people angry enough to murder him? Whitney’s natural curiosity draws her toward the mystery, but will she be able to figure out who killed Grant before she and Buck become the next target?

Primer and Punishment is the fifth book in the House-Flipper Mystery series from Diane Kelly. The idea of rehabbing a houseboat brings a new setting and a whole new cast of characters to keep an eye on. There are the ex-wives, the fishing friends, the mysterious bird-watcher, the angry friends who want their money back, the online dates, and the former owner of the Sexy Sheila who wants it back. There is no shortage of suspects in this one, but as always it’s Sawdust who steals all the scenes.

I enjoyed Primer and Punishment. I thought the lake living was creative and a lot of fun, and the amount of drama happening next-slip to Whitney was worthy of a television drama. The new characters added a lot of texture and complications, but a lot of the drama early on came from Whitney overhearing arguments that she wasn’t involved in, which seemed awkward. But it was still a fun read, and I am all in for those chapters written by Sawdust.

Egalleys for Primer and Punishment were provided by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley, with many thanks.

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House flipping cousins Whitney and Buck decide to take on a houseboat in Primer and Punishment. They want a quick flip because Buck’s wedding to Collette, Whitney’s best friend, is fast approaching. They are thinking that the boat would make a great venue for the bachelor and bachelorette parties!

Unfortunately, the charming con man in the next boat slip over gets himself blown up. So many people have been wronged by him that the police get multiple confessions to the crime. Whitney is known as an amateur detective (at least in her own mind) so she, of course, steps in to help.

First of all, Sawdust, Whitney’s cute cat, is the best character (and narrator) in the book. However, I loved the genuine family dynamics in Whitney and Buck’s relationship too. The mystery wasn’t too challenging making Primer and Punishment an easy read that is perfect for cozy mystery fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a digital review copy of the book.

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Primer and Punishment by Diane Kelly, book five in her House-Flipper Mystery series, is a cozy mystery set in Nashville, Tennessee. Whitney Whitaker and her cousin, Buck Whitaker, have chosen a fixer-upper houseboat, called The Skinny Dipper, for their next project. They anticipate it will be a quick, uneventful flip. Things start off well as they begin the work and soon they meet the guy who owns the boat in the next slip named Grant Hardisty. He is a charming manipulator with five ex-wives and a bum knee injured in a fall. Buck learns quickly that Grant is not to be trusted. While it doesn't take long to refurbish the boat, an unexpected situation explodes on Grant’s boat. To make things more interesting, numerous people confess to the crime. Using her intuition and natural sleuthing skills, and especially because she feel responsible for pointing the police in the wrong direction, Whitney is able to help law enforcement catch the guilty party
Whitney can't help but so she steps in try to help find the guilty party. The wedding festivities for Whitney's best friend, Collette, and her cousin Buck add a layer of fun festivities to this mystery.

Ms Kelly kept me on my toes guessing, with all the twists and turns along with a number of red herrings and surprise revelations, all leading up to the final reveal. This was a fun adventure in this house flipping series and the lives of Whitney and Buck. I highly recommend Primer and Punishment to other readers.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

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I just adore this series and it has really gotten better as it goes along; I'm even starting to enjoy the cat's point of view chapters now. The mystery was another winner with plenty of red herrings and twists and turns to keep you buys. I always enjoy reading about their refurbishments and this one with the houseboat was no exception. And, the characters are so great; no spoilers, so I'll just leave it there. Can't wait for the next book!

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Whitney and her cousin Buck have decided their next rehab project will be a houseboat, the Skinny Dipper! Although they’ve never done a houseboat, the basics of the rehab are the same. They decide to stay on the Skinny Dipper while rehabbing, which they estimate will take around 3 weeks. Buck is engaged to marry Whitney’s roommate Collette, after that. The man in the slip next to them, Grant, seems to be a real loser, five-times divorced from wealthy women, and still conning people out of things, the latest being the cabin cruiser he’s now living on and refusing to return to the original owner per their verbal contract. An interesting cozy with plenty of intrigue, mystery and a murder. Of course, Whitney loves solving puzzles and gets involved investigating. I received a free copy of this story from the author through Net Galley and write this review voluntarily.

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I jumped into this series with this book (the fifth) and had absolutely no trouble following along. The characters are engaging and the mystery kept me guessing. It was an entertaining read that I couldn’t put down

I do feel the chapters told from the cat’s point of view are extraneous and don’t add anything to solving the mystery but perhaps flesh out the protagonist.

I received an ARC from the publisher via net gallery but the opinion expressed is my own

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I’m coming a bit late to this series. I’ve started with book five and now will have to go back and start at the beginning to catch up. That won’t be a hardship at all though. This was a very entertaining book with a well done mystery and very enjoyable characters. The house flipping premise is very interesting and rehabbing a houseboat in this installment is unique.

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This is my first book by Diane Kelly. I love mysteries and house flipping so the premise drew me in. I really enjoyed reading how Whitney and Buck have taken house flipping to a new level by finding a floating prospect to rehab. Meeting their quirky next door neighbor, Whitney and Buck are pulled into a murder when Grant's boat explodes with him inside. Sorting through the numerous suspects that could be responsible, including five ex wives and many ex girlfriends, could prove to be a chore. Who would want Grant dead? I really enjoyed Whitney and Buck and will be looking to go back and read some more. I received a copy through Netgalley, A review was not required.

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If you like binging home improvement shows that include demo work, you are going to enjoy this House Flipping Mystery! Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck, were successful turning an old motel into a swanky Nashville apartment complex, so let’s see what they can do with a house boat named the Skinny Dipper. This will be a challenging job to be sure, what with a ruptured pontoon, the need for new floor work, a bit of paint, a new motor, and a less than ideal boat slip neighbor. Said neighbor, Grant Hardisty, is a slick one, obviously good at using charm and guile to get his way, this guy has more ex-wives than most people his age. He is living on a pretty nice houseboat that he got for a low–low price in what was to be a temporary arrangement with a friend in need, and he is getting ready to be a bartender on disability because of a slip and fall accident that should be paying out shortly. Not sure how much better his life can get since he seems to spend all his time fishing in the river and trolling the dating apps. Ms. Flower does a great job of fleshing this guy out well enough for readers to know that he is going to be the victim because he has ticked off too many people. I am not sure that I will ever look at a chemical ice pack quite the same way again and I am once again amazed at the research skills and imagination of cozy authors. On the flip side are the entries and thoughts of Whitney’s adorable kitty cat adding a little something extra cozy to the story from his viewpoint, which is not related to sleuthing but all about his world as he sees things. Good as a stand-alone but better as part of the series.

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Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this cozy mystery. It's the fifth in Diane Kelly's "house flipper" series, but I had no trouble reading it as a stand-alone. I'd read another of Diane Kelly's books from a different series, which I believe was better written.
Nevertheless, this one was enjoyable. The characters are likable, the mystery is well done, and there are many suspects to distract attention from the real killer. Parts of the narrative seemed rushed, and after the final reveal, I didn't find the killer's motivation strong enough to commit murder.
The heroine, Whitney Whitaker, tells the story in first person. She and her cousin Buck make a living flipping houses. This time, they purchase a houseboat to renovate, so they have a new challenge learning about boating.
Early on, they meet the boat owner in the next slip, Grant Hardisty. He's pleasant enough at first but quickly becomes annoying. They also learn he's not a nice person. He rips off almost everyone he meets, including the friend who sold him the boat at a discount because of a questionable injury that prevents him from working. He's been married five times, and his fifth wife just kicked him out and filed for divorce. His fourth wife is out for revenge.
Then one day. Grant's boat explodes, spreading pieces of him all over the marina. At first, it looks like an accident, but the authorities soon determine it was deliberate. Whitney gets involved as an amateur sleuth, eventually exposing the culprit. One has to suspend disbelief a little, but since her boyfriend is a police detective, he cuts her some slack.
As in the other Kelly book I read, there are short chapters from Whitney's cat's point of view interspersed with the main narrative. I'm an animal lover, so I found them cute, but frankly, they don't advance the plot.
As a bonus, there are recipes at the end!

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The main character, Whitney, is a no nonsense woman who does carpentry with her cousin, Buck - they fix and flip houses together. In this book, they decide to fix up a houseboat - an unusual project which excites Whitney. The person who is living in the slip next to them is handsome and charming - and yet seems to upset many people. One afternoon, he is blown up in his cabin cruiser. Many people are suspects - and Whitney wants to find out quickly who the culprit is before she and Buck are targeted.

I always enjoy reading cozy mysteries - and this was a fun and quick one to read. Even though it is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone. The story doesn't drag and it was the perfect read after a more intense thriller. This novel is one I read quickly on a Saturday afternoon.

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Primer and Punishment Earns 5/5 Boat Slips … Entertaining Gem!

The book: Diane Kelly’s fifth book in her House Flipper Mystery series “flipped” me out from its clever mystery and strong female lead to a complex investigation and perilous arrest, then add an insightful viewpoint of Sawdust the cat and a drink and dessert recipe. The premise: Our Whittaker cousin, Whitney and Buck, are venturing beyond the tradition house-flipping project with a really in need of repairs houseboat, christened The Skinny Dipper, floating in a river near Nashville, Tennessee. The conflict: The neighboring boat owner, Grant Hardisty, is the most challenging: late-night parties, his dog barking, and grilling fish. They ask Grant to move his boat, The Sexy Sheila, father out on the water until they finish their project. The murder: He complies, but his boat blows up with Grant on board ... arson! The verdict: The murder mystery was extremely intriguing and “couldn’t put down” fun with several exes, online dating, suspects taking the blame, threats to Whitney and Buck, and a perilous arrest. Extras: There was so much more to enjoy from the cat’s perspective, information about boat repairs, Buck and Collette’s wedding, endearing cousin dynamic, and of course, recipes .. Mermaid Paradise Punch and Life-Preserver Donuts! Loved it!

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Primer and Punishment is book 5 in the House-Flippers Mystery series by Diane Kelly. This was my first read in the series and I enjoyed it although the random chapters from her cat, Sawdust’s pov, were a little different but it didn’t detract from the story.

Whitney and her cousin Buck are carpenters and house flippers in the Nashville area and in this story they take on their first house boat to flip. Their neighbor in the marina is an interesting character and when he and his boat go up in flames, Whitney’s boyfriend and local detective is on the case. Of course, Whitney can’t help but offer some insight and suggestions that ultimately lead to an arrest or two.

Since I’ve been enjoying cozy mysteries lately, I will probably go back to the beginning of this series and read it through while I wait for the next installments of a few other series I’m reading.

Thank you @stmartinspress and @netgalley for this eARC in exchange for my honest feedback.

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Primer and Punishment by Diane Kelly is the fifth 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 or in any order 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’s cousin Buck has really taken Whitney out of her comfort zone looking for their next rehab project. Buck stumbled upon an old houseboat named the Skinny Dipper for sale and is convinced it will bring in a nice profit. Unfortunately for Buck and Whitney though another murder occurs when their neighbor at the marina boat explodes.

The House-Flipper Mystery series is another that I have followed from the very start and have fallen in love with reading. I have a secret HGTV addiction so the whole renovation side appealed to me to start but I come back each time enjoying the characters and the humor I find within. This is a great series for those that love a little laughter and a lot of fun in their cozy reads!

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

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This was such a fun house flipping mystery - this time set on a houseboat on a lake in Tennessee. It was so much fun to follow along the plot and what is going on with the neighboring boat and it’s shady occupant who annoys Whitney and her cousin Buck for a couple of days before going up his boat suddenly explodes out on the lake. Since they have seen him annoy not just themselves but also quite a few other people Whitney is quickly convinced this was no accident quickly confirmed by the arson specialist - but whose grudge became too big to bear ? One of the ex wives ? One of the people cheated out of money or a boat ? Is this an insurance fraud gone wrong ? Whitney is on the case and she will not be stopped !!

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Primer and Punishment by Diane Kelly is a fun cozy flipping mystery. I loved the setting of the houseboat and look forward to reading the previous 4 installments in the series.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.

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A Cozy Mystery That Will Keep You Guessing & Make You Smile!

This is a series that I enjoy a lot. The mystery is always fun to try to guess and I love the cat that has a shared some insight. It’s cute and fun and entertaining. Perfect for a weekend read! Enjoy!

*I did switch back and forth between reading and listening to the Audiobook Read by Courtney Patterson She had just the right voice for this book and did not distract or read too slow.

I received a complimentary ARC of this book from NetGalley on behalf of the Publisher and was under no obligation to post a favorable review.

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Diane Kelly continues her House Flipper cozies with Primer and Punishment. Whitney Whitaker and her house flipper partner decide to rehab a houseboat for sale. Then the free loading boat dweller next door went up with his exploded boat. Numerous suspects who he had ripped off including five former wives. Multiple confessions. Whitney and her cat Sawdust have to find out whodunit to save the last wife and her son from being charged. More turns of events than a corkscrew.

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In this novel, two cousins rebuild a house boat, and also solve a mystery. I have read others by this author but not in this series. This book was as well-written and enjoyable as the others I read. My only problem with this book was the added chapters after the mystery was solved, which seemed unnecessary, other than as a lead in to the next book in the series. This was an easy, cozy read, without strong language or explicit violence or intimacy. It can be read as a stand-alone even though it it part of a series.

I received this novel from the publisher and from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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In this fifth installment in Diane Kelly’s House-Flipper cozy mystery series, cousins Whitney and Buck are now renovating a houseboat. When a nearby boat goes up in flames, Whitney and Buck again act as amateur sleuths as they try to discover who was responsible for the explosion that cost a man his life.

As it turns out, the man that died in explosion was not well-liked, thus there are no shortage of suspects who could have been responsible for his murder. This was an intriguing as well as informative story. For example, when painting a boat, how is the underside painted? I found that tidbit rather interesting.

Aside from a quick renovation education, the intrigue, plot and characters all worked well to make this book quite an enjoyable read. This review would not be complete if I didn’t factor in the interesting dialogue Sawdust the cat had running in this as well as the previous books in the series. Oh, and I also learned that there are cat life vests. Fun, entertaining and with excellent pacing, I loved that I binge read all five books in this series and could have easily kept on reading

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Paperbacks and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

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This is book 5 in the House-Flipper Mystery series. It can be read as a stand alone but you enjoy the interaction of the characters with insight from previous books. this flip is a houseboat that Buck has found. Whitney and Coletter go with him to see if the boat is worth saving and they decide to buy the Skinny Dipper. Between planning the Buck and Collette’s wedding and rehabbing the boat they have little time for Grant, the next door neighbor and all his drama. When his boat explodes someone doesn’t want Whitney investigating, but Collin her boyfriend police detective is happy for the help. A fun read and a happy ending for all.

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Primer and Punishment
A House-Fipper Mystery, Book #5
Diane Kelly
5 Stars


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. (Amazon)


Whitney and her cousin, Buck, are going to try to rehab an old houseboat. While they are working, there is an explosion and a boat explodes. Now Whitney has to find out why her neighbor, who owned the boat, was killed and who was responsible. That will not be easy because more than one person confessed.

The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. The author is very talented in her descriptive and these descriptions helped pull me into the story from the very beginning and took me on a fantastic ride. The mystery was well plotted and there were enough clues to sift through and suspect to consider.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery. These books just keep getting better.

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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Primer and Punishment, the fifth book in the House Flipper Mystery series by Diane Kelly. Set in Nashville and following Whitney and her cousin Buck as they flip properties and solve murders. Whitney and Buck are taking on a new project in this book, a houseboat flip!
I've read one or two others in the series and this one can be read as a stand alone. Lots of red herrings and twists in this mystery left me on the edge of my seat. There's also a nice side story with Buck's upcoming wedding and lots of cute cat moments. I really enjoyed this one! Highly recommended, my favorite of the series.

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The absolute best story I have read in a long time. Will be sharing this one with everyone I know! This will be a popular book club pick.

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Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck flip houses. But Buck sees an opportunity to profit by flipping their first house boat. Everything is going well with the restoration. Except that their "neighbor" is kind of a jerk. He's got a handful of former wives and a whole lot of people who he owes money. And, he's got a bird watcher who doesn't seem to be watching a whole lot of birds.

It's not hard to guess who gets murdered. But Whitney sets out to find the murderer. She has an extra incentive. Her testimony has caused the police to arrest a former wife for murder. But Whitney doesn't believe she was the murderer and Whitney needs to find the real murderer to get her off the hook.

I've read several books by Diane Kelly. I really like her writing. Her character development is wonderful. She doesn't burden the reader with countless recipes and other distracting information like you find in many cozy murders. I highly recommend this book.

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