hammer time!

Shannon Hammer is in her element. Ever since she was a little kid, she would go to job sites with her dad. She and her sister may have just been in elementary school, but they would do what they could to help construct and restore the Victorian homes that their dad and his crew were working on. All the guys chipped in and helped them, buying them pink tools and teaching them how to do high quality construction. 

So when Shannon's dad had a heart attack and decided to retire, she stepped in to run Hammer Construction in Lighthouse Cove. Now she manages her crews as they restore Victorian homes all over town, like Hennessey House, the inn that her friend Jane is getting ready to open. The 14 guest suites are almost complete, and Shannon couldn't be more proud of the work that Hammer Construction does. 

Shannon is very happy with her life. She has a job that she loves and good friends. But her friends want to see her more settled, so when Lizzie told her that she'd set her up on a blind date with a charming real estate agent named Jerry Saxton. Dinner started well. The food was good, the conversation interesting. Shannon and Jerry finished the evening with a walk on the beach. And just as Shannon was getting ready to say good night and thank Jerry for a pleasant evening, he grabs her and tries to get physical. She was uncomfortable and pulled away, but he wouldn't be stopped. He wouldn't let go. He grabbed at her clothes, ripping her blouse open. Fortunately, Shannon happened to have a pair of pliers in her purse and used them to fend off his attack. She made it home safely and promised to herself that she would never go on a blind date again. 

It wasn't until the next day that she found that she'd been nicknamed "The Emasculator" by the locals who were on the pier at the time of her attack, and as Lighthouse Cove is a small town, everyone knew about the entire incident. But she shrugged it off to get back to work. One of her clients, Stan Boyer, whose house she and her crew had been renovating while he and his wife were out of town, called to say one of his neighbors has contacted him because they'd heard water running. Shannon immediately went to the house to check it out and found that there was an obstruction in the sump pump that was causing the flooding. And next to the sump pump was a dead body, that of Jerry Saxton. 

When the police show up and take a look at the crime scene, they immediately peg "The Emasculator" as their prime suspect. In order to clear her name, Shannon and her friends get started asking questions around town to find out who else had discovered that Jerry Saxton wasn't the charmer that he seemed to be at first. But can they find the answer before the hammer falls? 

Kate Carlisle's first novel in her Fixer-Upper Series, A High-End Finish, is a well constructed cozy. It features a strong woman in what is generally considered a man's business, an inviting town, lots of great characters, and a well-plotted murder mystery. I listened to the audio, narrated by Angela Starling, it's a wonderful introduction to these characters and the town. It's a fun listen, perfect as a companion for some of those mind-numbing tasks that suck up our time. A High-End Finish is an entertaining cozy with some strong feminism and humor to boot.