Nobody knows the nuts and bolts of home repair quite like Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree, ex-Wall Streeter turned proud owner of an 1823 Federal-style house in Eastport, Maine. But when a killer with a screw loose sets his sights on Jake, her newest renovation project becomes a dire matter of life and deck.
Driving deep into the woods to her husband's cottage with her best friend, Ellie White, in tow, Jake knows she has a challenging week ahead of her. Aside from saying goodbye to paved roads and indoor plumbing, Jake bet her husband that she could finish building the cottage porch in only a few days--a lofty goal for even the craftiest home renovator. But as Jake and Ellie set to work, they soon realize that they're not alone. Someone is watching them . . . and that someone is out for blood.
Recently escaped from prison and having fled into the woods, Dewey Hooper recognizes Jake the instant he sees her. Her testimony got him sent away for murder years ago and here, in the remote wilderness, he can finally exact his revenge. Determined to make payback look like an accident, Dewey hatches a lethal scheme to ensure neither woman returns to Eastport alive.
But Jake and Ellie are tough as nails and not afraid to fend for themselves. With the exit roads flooded and a deranged convict stalking their every move, they'll have to keep their wits above water to prevent the quaint little cottage from turning into the ultimate death trap.
Complete with Home Repair Is Homicide repair tips!
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
May 01, 2012
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Dead Level by Sarah Graves
To remove screws easily, use a screwdriver bit and the "reverse" setting on your electric drill. --Tiptree's Tips Harold had Facebook, and LiveJournal, and Twitter. He had a BlackBerry, an iPad, an iPod, and a third-generation Kindle.
He had a pain, mild but constant, a fluttery twinge in the soft tissue just above his left eye, deep in the hollow where you'd put your thumb if you were going to try lifting him by his cranium. Sometimes late at night, in his tiny apartment in a grimly forgotten, perpetually unfashionable corner of Lower Manhattan, he would find himself Googling: twinge, eye, flutter. Or: thumb, skull.
When it occurred to him what that last pair rhymed with-- numbskull--he stopped Googling it. But he couldn't forget.
Each weekday, Harold took the subway to his job at a video store a few blocks from Ground Zero, a place with a sale bin out front and a sputtery neon sign in the grimy window. Once it had thrived, but the only videos people rented nowadays were ones they wouldn't dare view on the Internet for fear of prison time.
The films didn't have brightly illustrated cardboard sleeves, or even titles. Furtive men--no women, in Harold's depressingly extensive experience--entered the store with money in hand, and asked without looking up at Harold for number 19, or number 204.
Harold wondered if they were ashamed of themselves, or if maybe they just didn't like seeing his eye twitch. If maybe they were creeped out by him. What he didn't wonder was what kind of unspeakably sordid images the videos contained; he needed the job too much for that.
But after three years in the store--the sputtering neon sign, the nagging eye pain, the worn black plastic cassettes or clear jewel cases that he wiped thoroughly with spray cleaner anytime one of them got returned--he also needed a vacation. So when the store's owner laid Harold off for two weeks due to cash-flow problems, he decided to go to Maine.
He'd never been, just seen pictures of the place. Probably Maine colors weren't as bright as they looked in the pages of magazines, with lighthouses as red-and-white-striped as new candy canes, and water as blue as . . . well, nothing in this life was ever really that blue, Harold felt sure.
But it didn't matter what it was like there. It was the idea of Maine that attracted him: clean air, not too many people. Forests you could walk into and not find your way out again, mineral-clear lakes, numbingly cold, where you could wade in and dissolve with a sigh, like a fizzy lozenge.
Not that he meant to; wade into one of those lakes, that is, and never wade out. But the idea of such wilderness--of surfaces that hadn't been handled and breathed on, or even looked at, by millions of people--spoke deeply to him, somehow, even though he had never experienced any such place himself.
So Harold left all his electronic gadgets at home and took a bus from Port Authority to Bangor, Maine, then a smaller one whose seats were made of hard plastic. As they wound out of Bangor, the driver drank Diet Coke and blared Top Forty on the radio propped up on the cluttered dashboard while the bus juddered along the twisty, crumbling two-lane blacktop.
Hours passed while Harold stared out the window at a world growing steadily more rural and less like anything he'd ever seen before: small wooden houses with garishly colored plastic toys in their rough yards, lobster traps stacked along unpaved driveways, boats sagging on trailers. Next came lengthy stretches where it seemed no one at all lived, the unfenced fields high and boulder-studded and the forests appearing darkly impenetrable.
At last they reached a small, desolate-looking intersection marked by an out-of-business gas station and convenience store. No sign, but the driver said it was the right place; hoisting his backpack, Harold got out and the bus trundled away, leaving him alone on the gravel shoulder, which was littered with hundreds of old and new filtered cigarette butts.
All around him loomed giant evergreens, their pointed tops etched on a fiercely blue sky. A big white-headed bird--a bald eagle, Harold realized; he'd never seen one of those before, either--sailed above.
The roar of a diesel engine shattered the silence as a log truck loaded with forty-foot tree trunks hurtled past, the smell of fresh pine sap sharp in its wake. Watching it go, he felt a sudden, drowning sense of isolation and loss, as if his old life had been torn away and had yet to be replaced by anything.
If it would be. Abruptly, he wished he hadn't come. Back in the city, he was always so surrounded and assaulted by crowds and clamor, it was easy there to pretend that he wasn't alone.
Here it was different. Turning, he heard the gravel crunch loudly beneath his feet. A big dog barked, somewhere on the other side of a line of trees. From the rotting eaves of the boarded-up convenience store, wasps drifted, each one materializing in the gloom at the nest's entrance, then launching itself.
Harold wondered suddenly what it was like in that nest, in the insectile dark. But he didn't think he'd better try to find out. Just then a car pulled up to where the gas pumps used to be.
"You waitin' for a ride?" The car was an old, dark blue Monte Carlo with the word taxi inexpertly stenciled on it in white.
The driver, a large, whiskery man wearing a fedora, chewed a cigar stub. Harold did not recall any cabdriver back in the city ever waiting so patiently or looking at him so frankly, as if genuinely engaged in this interaction and curious about Harold's reply.
Harold hefted his backpack, which he had let down onto the cracked concrete pad that the absent gas pumps had once stood on. Ten minutes later, after crossing a causeway and traversing some of the most astonishingly beautiful geography he'd ever seen--trees, a long beach with legions of small birds striding stick-legged on it, a wide expanse of water, then more trees and water again--he reached the island city of Eastport, Maine.
"Here you go. That'll be seven bucks. A buck a mile," the taxi man explained around the cigar stub.
Harold blinked, still stunned by the beauty and variety of the fields, forested land, and reedy marshes he'd been whisked through, the ponds, pools, and tidal inlets he'd passed over.