Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Review - Primer and Punishment

Title:   Primer and Punishment
Author:  Diane Kelly
Series:  House Flipper Mystery #5
Publisher:  St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   304  
Date of Publication:   February 21, 2023
My Rating:   4 Stars


Primer and Punishment marks the fifth in the delightful cozy mystery series from Diane Kelly set in Nashville, Tennessee. Whitney Whitaker has a knack for nailing down murderers . . . but this time she might just come unmoored.

Carpenter Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are looking once again to rehab and resell a house, only this particular house is made of fiberglass, floats, and has been dubbed the Skinny Dipper. The old houseboat sure could use some work, but the unusual project has Whitney bubbling with excitement.

The charming and handsome Grant Hardisty lives on the cabin cruiser in the adjacent slip, but the cousins soon learn he’s left a half dozen angry ex-wives in his wake and made enemies of all sorts of unsavory folks. The man is clearly caught in an increasingly dangerous current with no life preserver in sight.

Whitney and Buck are spraying primer on their houseboat when―KABOOM!―Grant’s boat blows sky high with the man himself inside. Detective Collin Flynn has no shortage of suspects, but the waters become muddied when several of them confess to the crime. Is one of those who confessed truly guilty, or are they taking a dive for someone else? When anonymous threats are made against the cousins, Whitney must quickly determine who killed their neighbor at the lake, or she and Buck might also be sunk.

In this fifth installment in Diane Kelly’s House-Flipper cozy mystery series, cousins Whitney and Buck are now renovating a houseboat. When a nearby boat goes up in flames, Whitney and Buck again act as amateur sleuths as they try to discover who was responsible for the explosion that cost a man his life. 

As it turns out, the man that died in explosion was not well-liked, thus there are no shortage of suspects who could have been responsible for his murder. This was an intriguing as well as informative story. For example, when painting a boat, how is the underside painted? I found that tidbit rather interesting. 

Aside from a quick renovation education, the intrigue, plot and characters all worked well to make this book quite an enjoyable read. This review would not be complete if I didn’t factor in the interesting dialogue Sawdust the cat had running in this as well as the previous books in the series. Oh, and I also learned that there are cat life vests. Fun, entertaining and with excellent pacing, I loved that I binge read all five books in this series and could have easily kept on reading 

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Paperbacks and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


A former tax advisor, Diane Kelly inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals more than once. Lest she end up in an orange jumpsuit, Diane decided self-employment would be a good idea. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her “Death and Taxes” romantic mystery series. A graduate of her hometown’s Citizen Police Academy, Diane Kelly, also writes the hilarious Paw Enforcement K-9 series, the Busted Female Motorcycle Cop series, the House Flipper series, the Southern Homebrew Moonshine series and the Mountain Lodge Mysteries series.

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