Batten Down the Belfry is the fourth book in Diane Kelly’s cozy House Flipper Mystery series. This series focuses on Whitney Whitaker, who co-owns a house flipping business with her cousin Buck in Nashville, Tennessee. Whitney is dating a Metropolitan Nashville Police Department detective named Collin. Buck is dating Whitney’s best friend and roommate, Collette, who is an up-and-coming chef. Whitney often takes her adorable cat, Sawdust, with her to the job sites. It is not necessary to read the previous three novels before this one. However, as in the case with most series, it is fun to read them in order to watch the progression of the relationships.
Whitney and Buck have purchased a 92-year-old church, complete with a bell tower and a parsonage, that sits on the Davidson and Sumner County lines. It is adjacent to a horse-breeding farm on the Sumner County side. They go to inspect the property after closing only to find several horses roaming both inside and out. The neighbor, Nolan Sibley, shows up with an electric cattle prod and tells Whitney and Buck they are trespassing on his property. He asserts ownership of the church property through a claim of adverse possession.
While waiting for the legal hearing on Sibley’s claim, the flippers decide to go ahead and rehab the church into a music venue and the parsonage into a restaurant. Unfortunately, the man who delivers new stained-glass windows is murdered in the church. Whitney’s boyfriend, Collin, is assigned the case which proves to be complicated to solve, especially when a second murder occurs nearby. The story kept me guessing until the end to figure out whodunit.
Now for my completely BIASED rating: 5-plus stars. How can I not give 5-stars when this novel is dedicated to ME? Thanks so much to my friend Diane Kelly for this honor. I am proud to be a “never-ending font of fun story ideas and horrible but hilarious titles.” That being said, even if it wasn’t dedicated to me, I would still give it 5-stars. This is a great series and I look forward to more.
Thanks to Sara Beth at St. Martin’s and NetGalley for my advanced reader copy. This book will be published on February 22, 2002. Pre-order a copy now. You know you want to see my name in print. LOL!