Newly armed with her real estate license, Sam Turner loves Arlinda, her quirky seaside hometown in Northern California. But life by the beach isn’t exactly a breeze: She and her teenage son, Max, are being evicted from their apartment, her long absent ex-husband unexpectedly resurfaces, and her possibly romantic relationship with sexy Chief of Police Bernie Aguilar is, well . . . complicated. All Sam wants is a quick and easy sale. What she gets instead is a killer headache—or three. Sam’s trying to drum up interest in 13 Aster Lane, a rambling Victorian fixer-upper that’s more than a little neglected—and possibly haunted—so when a trio of offers arrive out of the blue, she can’t help thinking it’s too good to be true. But after a new client drops dead on the property, she fears she’s lost more than a commission. Before Sam’s out of house and home, she must unmask a killer targeting her clients, or the only property she’ll be moving will be plots—at the local cemetery.
My Rating: 2½/5 stars
Sam Turner needs to sell a house! Unfortunately, the only property on her real estate dance card is a rundown Victorian that no one has wanted for decades. Unloading this monstrosity isn’t going to be easy but Sam has bills to pay and a teenage son to support so she’s going to unload that house, even if it kills her.
For years, no one has been interested in the old Victorian but, in what Sam sees as a stroke of luck, all of a sudden there is interest in the property. In fact, there is suddenly a lot of interest in the property and if Sam plays her cards right, she’ll get a hefty commission from the sale. The timing couldn’t be better since Sam’s car is in need of some major repairs, she’s buying a new house of her own, and she’s pretty sure her scumbag landlord is going to charge her a huge fee for “repairs” needed on her crappy apartment. All Sam has to do is convince just one of the interested parties that the house is worth fixing, the roses are worth saving, ghosts aren’t real, and this really isn’t a good place to build a new subdivision.
As the days pass, events related to the sale of the property become strange, perplexing, and eventually downright dangerous. With each weird and/or dangerous occurrence, Sam becomes more curious about the history of the property and the people who are involved with it. Poking around in the past isn’t always a good idea and as Sam continues to uncover new information, the threat to her safety becomes more serious. Too curious for her own good, Sam keeps digging and uncovers the answers to an unsolved bank robbery, the truth about the death of the previous property owner, and why her current buyers are dropping like flies.
The Bottom Line: As I sit here writing this review, I’m finding it difficult to get really excited about this read. I didn’t dislike it but I also had to remind myself on several occasions that I needed to finish reading this book. Seasoned readers know that having to remind yourself to read a book isn’t a glowing recommendation. There aren’t any major technical issues with this read but there are some real stretches and unnecessary bits where the plot is concerned. For example, the homeless man who hangs out at the real estate office, the reappearance of Sam’s ex-husband, her flighty sister saving the day, and the barely there romance with the chief of police. These stretches and unnecessary bits detract from an otherwise decent plot line and make the read somewhat convoluted, a state I do not care for in my reads. While many readers will find this read quirky and fun, I found it be only OK and was hoping for so much more.