dead cat bounce n. Stock market jargon for a small, temporary rise in a stock's trading price after a sharp drop.
Since she bought her rambling old fixer-upper of a house, Jacobia Tiptree has gotten used to finding things broken. But her latest problem isn't so easily repaired. Along with the rotting floor joists and sagging support beams, there's the little matter of the dead man in Jake's storeroom, an ice pick firmly planted in his cranium.
Not much happens in her tiny Maine town, but that's about to change. Jake's unknown guest turns out to be a world-famous corporate raider, local boy turned billionaire Threnody McIlwaine. When Jake's best friend, quiet and dependable Ellie White, readily confesses to the murder, cops and journalists swarm into snowbound Eastport.
Jake smells a cover-up, and begins poking into past history between McIlwaine and Ellie's family. But someone doesn't like nosy neighbors...and Jake's rustic refuge may become her final resting place.
This Old House meets Murder, She Wrote in this Sarah Graves mystery set on the coast of Maine. Jacobia Triptree, onetime financial advisor to the Mob, finds her quiet retreat shattered by the unwelcome discovery of a dead man in the Victorian pile she is in the midst of restoring. That he has an ice pick in his forehead only confirms her suspicion that the death was brought about by something other than natural causes. When her closest friend, Ellie, confesses to having done the deed, Jacobia is convinced she is lying and determines to save Ellie from herself by finding the real killer.
The victim turns out to be a local boy who'd done well enough to be featured in the pages of Fortune magazine. Ellie's ostensible reason for her uncharacteristic violence is that he bankrupted her parents. Between bouts of waterproofing the basement and replacing floor joists, Jacobia sets out to find a more believable motive and murderer.
The mystery itself is not that complicated, and as Jacobia digs deeper under her house and into the past, the truth eventually surfaces. Graves sufficiently amuses, however, with delightful characterizations of Jacobia's former connections and the local heroes who assist her in her projects of rescuing Ellie and putting her house together. Jake's asides regarding the stock market, as well as the details of home restoration, also provoke the occasional smile. Graves is at her best delineating the tension between the small town's good guys and the federal investigators (and tourists) from far away. A gentle read, despite the shadow of the Mafia, and entertaining enough for bedtime diversion. --K.A. Crouch