The Last Curtain Call by Juliet Blackwell
It hardly seems necessary to continue to review Juliet Blackwell’s HAUNTED HOME RENOVATION MYSTERIES because fans are going to read them no matter what I say but, since the audiobook publisher keeps providing me with review copies, I’ll keep doing it. I love Tantor Media’s audio editions of Blackwell’s two cozy paranormal mystery series (this one and WITCHCRAFT MYSTERIES) because they’re narrated by the fabulous Xe Sands. They are a pleasure to listen to and I recommend them to fans (or future fans) of Blackwell’s books.
The Last Curtain Call (2020) is the eighth novel. Each is a stand-alone mystery, so you could start here, but you’d miss the progression of Mel’s relationships, so it’s best to start at the beginning with If Walls Could Talk. (Make sure to get the audio edition.) This review won’t have any major spoilers for earlier books.
Each new HAUNTED HOME RENOVATION MYSTERIES novel is another opportunity to spend some more time with Mel Turner and her loveable family and friends, people we’re attached to at this point. We know that we’ll also get to learn something interesting about the history and culture of San Francisco or the surrounding area. And, of course, there’s a murder mystery to be solved (but never enough clues for the reader to solve it).
This time Mel is renovating an old famous abandoned Art Deco movie theater in San Francisco. This is Turner Construction’s most ambitious project yet and, I think, my favorite one in terms of just the actual renovation. Besides being a difficult job, though, the theater has some additional challenges. It’s not clear who’s financing the project and there may be some hidden agendas and, therefore, obstructions involved. Mel is not the first contractor to attempt to take on the job. Another issue is that the theater is populated by a group of homeless people. The squatters are artists, and it won’t be a fun or politically popular move to expel them. When one of the squatters is murdered, Mel is compelled to solve the crime.
But it’s not all business and murder, of course. In Mel’s personal life, her fiancé is asking about a wedding date. His gift to her is the newly purchased home that Mel grew up in. As they plan the renovation, in an upstairs bedroom Mel discovers some vintage dresses (and guess who she takes one to?) as well as a ghost that may be a murderer and may be connected to the goings-on at the theater.
As I already said, it kind of doesn’t matter what I say about The Last Curtain Call. Fans are going to read it and I can assure them that they’ll be pleased with this instalment. It’s got everything we expect and want from the HAUNTED HOME RENOVATION MYSTERIES series. In this novel, Blackwell also brings our attention to the problem of homelessness in San Francisco.
When I saw that the title of this book was The Last Curtain Call, I thought it sounded like maybe this was the last book in the series, but fortunately that does not appear to be the case. Mel’s story is not finished and I look forward to the next volume.
With the relentless gentrification in SF and the huge homeless problem, this book sounds like Blackwell is tackling current events. I’ll probably pick it up just for the Art Deco theater!