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    Review of UNHINGED by Sara Graves (see her website)


    Bantam, 2003

    It's a bad couple of days for Jacobia (Jake) Tiptree and her family. After falling off a ladder while working on her old house's gutters, Jake's son is involved in a truck accident, her husband is nearly killed by an exploding shotgun shell, and she discovers major foundation problems. She also decides that the vanished woman down the street must have been killed and it's up to Jake and her friend Ellie to solve the mystery. A questionable foundation man, annoying ex-husband, con-man ecologist, and a cop who seems to think that everything is about him add to the complexity.

    Author Sarah Graves (see more reviews of novels by Graves) seems to know her home repair. For anyone (like me) who has attempted to rennovate an old house, many of Jake's frustrations will ring true. As a loving mother, abandoned child, and hardworking sleuth, Jake Tiptree makes a sympathetic character.

    I found the mystery in UNHINGED to be a bit over the top without being funny. The killer's motives are illogical (admittedly he/she was crazy, but still) and few serious mystery readers will be thrown off by the rather weak red-herrings that Graves offers. All of Jake's sleuthing doesn't really lead to much except an exploration into the culture of Eastport, Maine (admittedly, Eastport, Maine seems pretty interesting). I would have liked to see more action on the part of Jake, more logical action, and especially action that had a direct bearing on solving the mystery.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 6/02/03

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