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Death by Drywall by @bbarrettbooks is an Indie Reads event pick #cozymystery #indiereads #giveaway

Title: Death by Drywall

Author: Barbara Barrett

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Book Blurb:

Renovating a restaurant is hard enough. Renovating it for your boyfriend who thinks his million-dollar smile will make up for his ever-changing whims is even harder. But running the job when a woman is murdered in a house your colleague is renovating? It’s almost more than Rowena Summerfield can handle—especially when she’s once again pulled into her old role of homicide detective to find the killer.

Ro dives in to clear her friend so she can go back to her real job, especially since the rocky renovation threatens to wreck her relationship with charming Chuck. But this mystery is anything but straightforward. The victim wore drywall stilts. Her nearest relatives are either uncooperative or dead. And everybody’s lying to Ro and her old partner, Herc.

With support from her daughter and her finicky cat, Jason, Ro puts her new love and young company on the line to crack the case—even when the only solution seems to be a dangerous plot to entrap the murderer before the devious killer eliminates them.


“You mean the old Taylor house?” Ryder wasn’t just my superintendent. He owned his own reno company and had been managing to keep his hand in both concerns the past few years. Val and I took terrible advantage of him, expecting him to spend the bulk of his time on our projects. Ryder never complained, and when his own business needed him, he somehow managed to take care of it without our even realizing he was gone.

Chuck had originally mentioned asking Ryder to take on Sandpiper, although that had been a ploy to get me to offer our services, even though we had very little experience with commercial properties. I didn’t know if Chuck had ever said anything to Ryder, and I’d decided it best not to ask.

“That’s the one. Taylor was the original owner years and years ago. I got a great deal on it. Bought it from a guy who bought it from another guy who got it for a song when the former owner couldn’t afford to keep it when her husband went to prison. This guy’s been trying to get the place fixed up without much success.”

“Why?” I asked, deciding I didn’t need to know the house’s history. “Something wrong with it?”

“I suppose some might say it’s cursed with the one owner going to jail, but that was three owners ago. Bad things happen to people. I can’t let their history spook me, but the guy I bought it from seemed to latch onto the previous owners’ troubles and use them as an excuse when his financing started going south.”

“Poor planning?”

“One way of looking at it. He appears to have bitten off too much too soon, and he couldn’t cover his bills.”

“Where are you on it?” I was curious, but I also wanted to know how much that project might take him away from The Sandpiper. If Chuck got his way about the wine bar, we’d need Ryder’s help more than ever.

“Demo’s pretty much done other than a few stray boards here and there. Electrical and plumbing in. My drywall crew is ready to get started.”

“Sounds like everything’s coming together.”

“That your roundabout way of asking if that project will take me away from the restaurant much?”

“Sorry, I should’ve come right out and asked.”

“Not to worry. Everything’s under control. My foreman keeps me up to speed. The bulk of my time can still be devoted to The Sandpiper. Just run interference with Dawson for me, if you would.”

Interference. Sure, I’d love to, provided Chuck Dawson was still talking to me.

After Ryder left, I decided to do a bit of research about wine bars. I wasn’t sure if Chuck would actually do his due diligence or not, but I wanted to be ready to counter whatever grandiose plan he developed. What exactly was a wine bar?

I learned that true wine bars aren’t just restaurants with extensive wine lists. I feared that’s what Chuck had in mind. He could sell all the wine he wanted at the restaurant, but true wine aficionados would turn up their noses if he called something a “wine bar” if it didn’t offer more than wine by the glass. It should also feature bottle sales, wine “tastings” (like in two-ounce offerings) and occasional wine lectures.

Wine bars should also include an actual “bar” as well as several comfy places for patrons to sit and enjoy the ambience. Too bad the property wasn’t located along a river or a lake. The Sandpiper was landlocked, flanked by other businesses. Whatever ambience Chuck established would have to be internal, which would fall to me. Actually a fun challenge if I came to decide this wine bar was a good idea.

I noted several articles about the need for having an actual wine expert either as manager or consultant. I doubted Chuck had thought of that. On the other hand, given his wide scope of acquaintances, he might know someone who fit the bill.

I turned off the computer, overwhelmed by the enormity of the task Chuck was taking on. If we hadn’t broken up, I would be on the phone cautioning him to think again about this new development. But I didn’t feel I could do that now, although our split didn’t mean I couldn’t do this research on my own. If he was determined to have this wine bar, I wanted it to succeed, as tempting as it was to see him shoot himself in the foot.

Before I realized what I was doing, I spread the blueprints for the restaurant out on my desk along with a couple of bird’s-eye-view maps of the area I’d printed off the computer. I alternated between bringing an interior to life and laying out exterior dimensions. As it turned out, the plot of land available was larger than I thought, but I held back from filling the entire space with the new building because it had occurred to me while I was doing my internet reading that a small garden, perhaps even a tiny vineyard, could fill the rest of the area. Patrons might even wander out there, wineglasses in tow, to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Wait. I was getting more carried away with this idea than Chuck. Not good. Time to get back to the restaurant itself. Thanks to Chuck, I had more than enough to keep me busy there.

A couple of days later, as I was browsing through a wallpaper catalog, Ryder burst into the room. His usually pale complexion had gone completely white. “Gotta get over to the Taylor house project. There’s been an accident.”

“One of your workers hurt?” I asked.

“No. It wasn’t any of my people. A woman I don’t know. Must’ve been there during the night and somehow fell. She’s dead, Ro.”

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What makes your featured book a must-read?

The title of this book says it all and it says very little. You’ll want to read this book because you’ll be intrigued to find out why a woman who hasn’t lived in the murder house for years not only broke in after hours during its restoration but wound up wearing drywall stilts from which she fell to her death. That mystery takes former homicide investigator Rowena Summerfield and her partner Hercules Morgan to a fledgling ad agency to the home of the grieving brother and his pregnant wife to the inner sanctum of a local business man.

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $35 Amazon gift card:

Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.

Runs December 13 – December 21, 2022.

Winner will be drawn on December 22, 2022.

Author Biography:

Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.

Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job in human resources for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and two novellas, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.

Death by Drywall is the third book in the Nailed It Home Reno Mysteries Series. It features Rowena Summerfield, a retired homicide investigator who teams up with her daughter, Valerie Kowalski, to start their own home renovation business. After struggling to keep afloat the first few years, they are now building a solid reputation. That is, until a stranger is killed in the reno project of their friend, Ryder Tompkins, and he pressures her to work with the police to find the murderer. Their search to learn more about the victim takes them to both the heights of the local business community and the realities and of the prison system.

Though not an interior designer, that occupation has always fascinated Barbara. Her father was a carpenter and her husband has his own woodworking business. Exposure to their work got her interested in watching numerous home improvement shows on HGTV. Ro and Val are an amalgam of several HGTV hosts. She used that combination of personality traits for Ro and turned her into a female sleuth who rehabs older houses.

Barbara is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sinc-Iowa and Florida STAR Fiction Writers.

She is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.

Now retired, she is a resident of Florida, although she spends her summers in Iowa, her home state. She earned her B.A. degree in History from the University of Iowa and her Master’s Degree in History from Drake University.

When not in front of her laptop creating her next story, she plays mah jongg, watches TV detective shows and enjoys lunches with friends.

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Dec 19, 2022

Indie authors work hard & are down to earth. They love chatting with their fans that’s what I love about them!


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Dec 17, 2022

Thank you, Barbara, for sharing your book in our Indie Reads Bookish Event!

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