Cover Image: Death by Demo

Death by Demo

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Member Reviews

Princess Fuzzypants here: Jaime is newly divorced from her cad of a husband and not only does she lose everything she has worked so hard to build, her reward for her efforts, thanks to signing a pre-nup when she was just a teenager, is a dilapidated house. As she starts the renovations, she takes down a wall and finds a body. It turns out she knows the victim and even though she was a very kind person, there is no shortage of possible suspects including Jaime’s ex and his new girlfriend.

Jaime is adopted by a kitty whom she names Demo and the two of them work to get the house in order as she tries to figure out who murdered the deceased and why. She is a capable and likeable heroine so I was really disappointed when Jaime ended up in a Darwin Award kind of situation. I quickly discovered that like many of the men in the book, I had underestimated her, and with strength and cunning, she was able to extricate herself, leading to a highly satisfying take down of the villain. This is a woman who knows how to get things done and has the persistence to get it done. Five purrs and two paws up.

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Really good first book in the series! I love reading books with contractors as the main characters. Excited to see where this series goes!

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Book Review: Death By Demo. Home Renovation Mystery #1
Stars: 4 X 5
Author: Callie Carpenter
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books @crookedlanebooks
Thank you @netgalley for this ARC

Set in a small town in North Carolina where Jamie and her husband have a successful contracting business. They work in renovations. All was going well until Jamie found her husband cheating on her. From the divorce Jamie get an old house that she decides to renovate herself. This is a perfect way to start her own business. All is going well until Jamie decides to knock down a wall and she finds a body. Jamie ends up becoming an amateur sleuth along with her best friend Lara. Jamie wants this mystery solved fast so she can get back to renovations. Unfortunately, when Jamie learns the identity of the deceased she realizes it is someone she knew from the past as did her friends and ex husband. Needless to say they all end up being person’s of interest to the police. Not only does she use Lara to help her but she ends up having Mike her next door neighbor get in on the shenanigans too. Lucky for Jamie she knows Mike as he owns the local hardware store and is very easy on the eyes.

The ending of the who dunit mystery was a surprise for me and I did not see this ending at all. I also liked that towards the end of the story Mike and Jamie have the beginning's of a budding romance. This was a great cozy mystery and I am looking forward to reading more in those series. Plus, there is a cat and I love cats.

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Dollycas's Thoughts

Jamie Moore signed an ironclad prenuptial agreement when she married Henry King never imagining their perfect life would come to an end. Together they ran King Contractors, a very successful construction and interior design company. After catching Henry in an affair their love bubble burst and all she received in the divorce was a historical house in need of a ton of repairs to even make it livable or flippable. But Jamie takes the bull by the horns and starts to demolish a strange wall in the home. She is shocked when the wall quickly falls apart and the dead body falls out.

She now has so many questions. Who is the dead body? Who killed them? Why were they killed? Could Henry be involved? Is that why he gave her this house? Or was it the previous owners? Or did some random person see the empty house as a great place to dump a body?

Now the house is a crime scene and any work Jamie had planned comes to a halt. With nothing but time on her hands, she decides to do some sleuthing of her own with a little assistance from Mike, her new neighbor/hardware store owner, and a cat she found on-site she now calls Demo.


Several years ago my husband and I owned a construction company with some friends. These days I have been binge-watching Fixer Upper from the Magnolia Network. So when I saw this book, the synopsis spoke to me on several levels. I just had to read it. We too, saw many cats on our construction sites and one very special one found a home with our friends. I immediately had a soft spot in my heart for Demo.

I enjoyed meeting Jaime Moore. She made a huge mistake signing a prenup without reading it but now she is trying to make the best of a bad situation. She did most of the work at King Contractors so she does have the skills, knowledge, and reputation to start her own company. She develops well throughout the story. Her ex-husband was a real tool and his new girlfriend is awful too. They were very easy to dislike. Thankfully Jaime has her best friend of 24 years, Lara in her corner. Her parents are supportive but their plans for her to take her life in another direction didn't mesh with what Jaime wanted to do. Detective Scoles is an interesting cop and more open with Jaime than I expected him to be. All of Ms. Carpenter's characters have room for growth as the series continues but their introductions were done very well within this story.

Several people could have gotten into Jaime's new house which means plenty of suspects. Jaime doesn't know who she can trust and her list includes some people she has known for years including her ex. The body itself offers an interesting clue sending Jaime's quest in a different direction. She did have a few instances that made me want to jump into the story to stop her from making stupid decisions. One did fall into the TSTL (too stupid to live category) but she was in dire straights already. The way she handled it though was very smart and a little bit painful and was followed by an exciting showdown where she was very lucky.

I really liked the way the story ended. It gave me just a peek at what's to come for Jaime and I think the future of this series looks bright.

Death by Demo has given this series off to an exceptional start. The theme has me invested on a personal level and I am looking forward to seeing what develops in book two.

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My thoughts...

We meet our amateur sleuth as she is trying to rebuild her life, and all she wants is to be able to hold her head high while she works to renovate a dilapidated house she received in her divorce settlement, a house that is so inconsequential that King Contractors did not see value in it and her now ex-husband fobbed it off on her.

But all Jamie sees is potential - potential for a fresh start, potential to create her own business. But when she decides to knock down a wall and finds a body, everything is temporarily put on hold.

Each day she cannot work on the house costs her money and endangers her timeline with contractors she has hired, so she decides to do a little investigating on her own, especially when she discovers that she knows the person found in the wall. And this begins Jamie’s adventure into amateur sleuthing.

Everyone is a suspect, even the handsome neighbor and new manager of the hardware store. He always seems to pop up right as she gets to the house, and he always seems to have coffee for her at the ready.

The pacing of the story is the way I like my cozies - short chapters and fast development. Sometimes in cozies the writers give readers too many misdirections and/or distracting details, but this cozy did not. No detail is wasted, and the final confrontation is a page-turner.

I loved Jamie as our amateur sleuth, but her husband Henry? I was ready to fight him on behalf of Jamie by book’s end.

The supporting characters do what they are supposed to do - support Jamie on her new life journey, and help her solve a murder. Jamie's parents were my favorite.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery. I tend to stick to book, library, and food-themed cozies, but the plot of this one appealed to me, and I’m glad I gave it a read. I really enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to seeing Jamie succeed, and take down King Contractors.

The book was provided by NetGalley for an honest review.

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A great start to a new cozy mystery series. I'm a sucker for a mystery series that focuses on home demos. I find they tend to keep my attention. especially when the heroine finds a body in the house.

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I think there's a lot of potential in this series even if I wasn't a fan of this mystery. I appreciated the part about renovating but found the story a bit confusing.
I want to read the next story as I think it will surely be better
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Jaime had a few reality checks after her divorce. She lost the business she helped create and only received a Queen Anne house that had seen better times but had good bones. Her effort to start a new page in her life resulted in a wall demolition that was storage for a body. The mysterious murder impeded her rebuilding process, but she refused to let anything get in the way of her dream and began her investigations to fast-track the investigation and find the killer. It was very entertaining and captivating.

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Death by Demo by Callie Carpenter is the first book in what will be A Home Renovation Mystery series.

It was an ok read for me. The main character is fine, intelligent and down to earth person. The side characters are also relatable.
I like the premise of a woman in constrution business and that part was interesting to read about.
Our heroine is freshly divorced and a lot of the book revolves around it. I appreciated book not being only about the mystery as I like to get to know my characters.
Unfortunately after the strong start my attention started to wane. The story was all over the place, the investigation as such as almost non existent and I had a feeling that our amateur sleuth wasn't doing much sleuthing.
While I enjoyed her having a helping hand, there wasn't much help from the side kick at least not in the real sense.
It was a good first try, I just think that investigation process should have been a bit stronger and more crafted.

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. New series and new-to-me author -- a combo I love!

The basics: When Jaime's marriage crumbles she finds the only thing she takes away from the divorce is also crumbling. A victorian house. A house in terrible repair that needs a huge amount of restoration work. But Jaime has mad skills when it comes to restoring and decorating homes. And she really needs a project. But even her skills can't help when she knocks down a wall and finds.....

A dead body.

This book is a fun read. I really like the characters, the setting, the background story! I will definitely stick with this series. I love the idea of renovating an old house like this (minus the dead body though, thank you). I lack the skills Jaime has though, so I will just enjoy reading about demo and construction/renovation projects. The book has just the right mixture of humor and amateur sleuthing. A cat. And lots of interesting characters. Definitely a cozy series I will enjoy!

The cover art is cute and colorful. Love it!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Crooked Lane Books. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

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A very solid foundation on which to build a a fun cozy series! I am a huge fan of home renovation shows(love me some Chip & Jo!) so a home reno based cozy series is a favorite cozy theme for me. This one was really good. I liked the setup for the series with Jamie coming off a divorce and is now finding her independence and success on her own terms away from her dirtbag ex. The mystery had me guessing and I like the secondary characters that look to be the core of the series going forward. I am excited to see where this series goes and I am here for it!

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I think this story was cute. I liked Jaime as a character, and liked the home renovation aspect. If you like HGTV or DIYing, you might like this one. I didn’t love it though and probably will not continue reading the series.

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This was a fabulous first book. I found the characters to be likeable and the interesting. Jamie Moore (previously King) has spent the last decade and a half working with her now ex-husband, Jamie King, in his renovation and construction business. Henry comes from a wealthy family and his dad has made sure that in the event of a divorce, Henry would have everything, and Jamie would have nothing. As a parting gift, Henry gives her a dilapidated house they were planning on flipping. The joke is on him, though when Jamie starts working her buns off to fix it up. Jamie takes the first swing to take down a wall and finds a mummified body.

This is such a great read, and I am looking forward to the next one!

Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

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As a HGTV and cozy mystery fan, I was excited to read this cozy. I loved the playful dialogue and learning about the characters.

Jamie is a newly divorced woman who ran a home renovation business with her ex. When she buys a home to renovate, she's in for a surprise when she discovers a body in the wall! Even more surprising, she knew the victim.

Carpenter does a great job of creating a fun and fast-paced mystery to keep readers guessing until the end. There's a great cast of quirky characters and the home renovation angle is unique. I would read more books in this series.

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This is a delightful introduction to a new cozy mystery series. Jaime is intelligent and feisty and not given to TSTL moments. The mystery is engaging. The setting is inviting, and I am glad to see a new home renovation series to join the ranks of Kate Carlisle and Sarah Graves.

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I received this book for free for an honest unbiased review from Netgalley.

A cute cozy with a surprise ending that really wrapped up the story perfectly.

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Death by Demo is a story set in a small town in North Carolina, near Charlotte, where everyone knows everyone. Jaime and her husband worked together to build a successful contracting company working in renovations. All was well until her cheating husband ended their marriage and left her nothing but an old house needing renovation, due to a prenup. I liked Jaime and was pulling for her. She is smart, really the brains in the company and she plans to make a go of it, starting with the house. But when she is demoing a makeshift wall in the house, she discovered the body of a popular local woman and things come to a halt. She is determined to find the killer for the sake of the dead woman and for her livelihood. It turns out that several people had access to the house and more since a key was known to be in an outside building. Jaime and her friend Lara work through suspects as Jaime does some sleuthing on her own. Things get dicey and scary before it is all over. This is a good read for those who enjoy cozy mysteries with a home renovation theme and strong, smart, and determined women.
I received a copy for the purpose of an honest review. These are my thoughts.

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This was a cute cozy but employed a lot of tropes, which is typical for the first in a series. It was an easy read but I am not sure I'd read another in the series.

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The first in a the Home Renovation series, it’s the only book that comes up under the author’s name; given the quality of the writing, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s published under a different pen name.

The story is narrated in third person, past tense, from the deep point of view of one Jaime Moore; recently divorced after fifteen years of propping her husband up, pretty much literally, and finding herself cut off from the company she helped build, and from the work she loves, she’s understandably angry.

She’s also funny, competent and intelligent; Jaime’s internal dialogue makes her so very relatable.

Jaime’s life imploded through no fault of her own, and for a while she drifted in a sea of anger and despair; now that she finds herself at rock bottom, that anger and aimlessness morph into determination: if all she has is this one house, she’ll make it shine, and it will be the foundation of her new life.

Jaime has a very solid base; for starters, she knows what she’s doing and is not afraid of hard work. She also has the unconditional support of her family and her closest friend, Lara; the fact that all of them basically go, “you can do this, you have been doing this, essentially by yourself, for over a dozen years”, is very healing. As she tackles both the house renovation and the murder investigation, the things she does well come back to her, boosting her confidence.

And as Jaime interacts professionally with the people around her as a newly single person, she’s touched to realize how much so many of them like her, and surprised to realize that many resented the way her ex subtly put her down. It matters that they don’t blame Jamie for it, or let her blame herself. Because relationships are complicated, as people are, and evolve (or devolve, as the case may be) over time.

Generally in cozies there’s lack of plausibility to justify the amateur sleuth’s involvement in a murder investigation; here the author provides a very reasonable motive and a sensible goal for Jaime, through Lara:

“You are the one who cares about getting access to the house. This will be just one case of many for the sheriff’s department. For you it’s the thing that matters most. You’ll be way more motivated than (Detective) Scoles to get this resolved.” (Lara, Chapter 3)

That touch of realism is very welcome, and Lara’s suggestion–that Jaime use the time she can’t work on the house due to police presence, to find out what she can and pass whatever she learns to Scoles–is sensible and, as far as they know at that point, safe.

The worldbuilding is also more realistic than most cozies; Green River a small town, but that’s still almost twenty thousand people, and it’s also surrounded by other towns, and within easy driving distance of yet more. Yes, Jaime knows a lot of the people in the town proper because she’s lived there all her life and has worked with/for them for a good fourteen years, but the world of the novel is big enough for her not to know everyone or even everything about those she does know.

Jaime is very funny, on the slightly snarky side when on purpose (her internal dialogue, for example), and in the sweet straight-man-of-comedy when unintentionally.

“Fair enough.” (Jaime) nodded. ” A plan it is. But a plan for what, exactly? And don’t say for sneaking back into the house in the middle of the night to work on renovations, because that’s not going to happen.” Lara looked at her sadly. “You are no fun.” “Never have been.” (Chapter 3)

(Jaime) “Why are the things we don’t want to do always the things we need to do?” “Because if we wanted to do them, they’d already be done” (Lara) held out a glass. “Sad fact of life.” (Chapter 4)

The author doesn’t shy from calling out the sexism inherent to some fields of work; Jaime reflects on having been condescended to by every man she worked with–from day laborers to clients–despite her being, at the time, the co-owner of the company; and on her friend’s electrician company having a few bumps when she took the reins over from her father, but now is doing better than ever since women would rather deal with someone who won’t condescend on the basis of perceived gender.

Something else that’s well done is that Jaime doesn’t lose sight of the victim as a person.

“Cilla had been tossed aside. Disregarded. Dismissed. Thanks to Henry, Jaime had had a taste of what that felt like. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself until she’d done everything she could to get justice for Cilla.” (Chapter 11)

One thing Jaime has always believed about herself is that she’s not a thinker, but as the person that kept all the many balls of multiple renovation projects and job sites from colliding or falling at King Contractors , she’s very good at thinking several steps ahead and catching small details before they turn into major issues.

Speaking of which, we actually see Jaime working on the renovation in ways that make sense; the author either knows renovation/construction, or did her research properly. Ditto the stray cat at Jaime’s Queen Anne: Demolition–Demo, for short–acts like an actual cat, from beginning to end.

The mystery is really well done; there are a number of viable suspects, all with plausible motives and opportunity to commit the murder. It is also a fair play mystery; all the information you need to figure out who’s guilty is there.

Jaime is very sensible in her approach to her investigation, keeping the detective in charge appraised of everything she learns, as she learns it–even when she feels dismissed or brushed aside. The fact that she solves the crime and rescues herself is icing on my reading cake.

The ARC had a few minor copy-editing issues, but the writing itself is excellent.

There’s just a bit of copaganda; not so much to claim that the cops will lose sleep over solving the case, but that they not only are pretty competent, but care about it.

This is one of the best cozies, if not the best, I’ve read this year.

The only thing that bothered me is Jaime’s internalized shaming of her situational depression, as something “she let herself fall into”. The idea that if people “just had some willpower” they would not be depressed is a scourge in society.

Death by Demo gets a 9.00 out of 10.

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This is the first book in A Home Renovations series. I was really excited to get a copy of this book and it didn’t disappoint.

Jaime is just divorced by and left with nothing but a home that was determined ‘not worth renovating’ by the company she co-owned with her ex husband. However, she was young and in love when she was given a prenup to sign. That one decision left her with nothing when he decided he didn’t need her anymore.

She decides she will fix up this house and it will be the start of her own new company. While doing some demolition, she knocks down a wall to find a body that looks like it’s been there a while. Now she is going to have to put her renovations on hold when she is already eager to get through with them so she can start making some money.

There are quite a few characters that we will hopefully gain more information on within the series. I know now that I don’t like her ex husband, his new girlfriend or his dad, which is the point. However, I don’t really get much of a feel for anyone else. They are there but there wasn’t enough of them to really make an impression. The best friend is in this but not so much a friend as a partner or sounding board for the murder investigation they are doing.

The police are not stupid in this one and they seem to be ahead of her on most things. The police never tell her to stop investigating on her own.

I love that this is a woman who can do ‘man’ things. However, I did get annoyed with the whole ‘men don’t think women know anything’ that was written into the story. This trope is tired and most men don’t act like that these days. There are some but not like books make it out. The only time I ever really had this happen is when I worked in a male dominated environment. Anyways, I digress.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think fellow lovers of cozy mysteries will too. If you enjoy renovation settings then this would also be one to pick up.

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