The Handyman Homicide by Libby Howard

Title: The Handyman Homicide (Reckless Camper Cozy Mystery #1)

Author: Libby Howard

Published on: 10 January 2022

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sassafras Letouroux is the new owner of Reckless Camper Campground. Sassy bought the campground unseen – relied on the estate agent to do all the buying procedures and the legalities. Sassy’s 85-year-old mother Ellie Mae has moved from care home to help her 55-year-old daughter with the campground. Sassy’s bloodhound Elvis is also in tow.

Minutes after arriving at the campground, Sassy and her mother are welcomed by their next-door neighbor Lottie Sinclair. Sassy’s mother takes a tour of the cabins while Lottie and Sassy carry the luggage from the vehicle to the owner’s cabin. Lottie leaves after a while and Sassy realizes the back door was open and Elvis has escaped.

When Sassy goes out to find her dog, her mother makes a comment: “Hope he didn’t get into that dead body in cabin three.” Sassy must have heard it wrong. After finding Elvis (who wasn’t in cabin three, thank goodness!), Sassy takes a peak into cabin three. Well, there is a dead body!

The Handyman Homicide is the debut novel in Libby Howard’s Reckless Camper Cozy Mystery series.

Sassy left her corporate event and marketing job after being diagnosed with the big C. After her recovery, she decided to buy Reckless Camper Campground, the camping ground she used to visit in her childhood. Her 85-year-old mother is tagging along – she would do the billing and the booking while Sassy can look after rest of the stuff.

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Soon after their arrival at the campground, Sassy’s mother makes a comment about a dead body in cabin three. Sassy thinks she must have misheard it. Her mum must have said ‘red birdy’ or ‘dropped bootie.’ Sassy’s bloodhound Elvis has done a Houdini act and after finding him (Elvis, not Houdini), Sassy enters cabin three – just out of curiosity – and finds someone lying on the floor. She calls 911. The operator tells Sassy the man must have passed out. When Sassy claims her mother told her about the dead body, the operator says Sassy must have heard it wrong. Red birdy. Dropped bootie.

But when Sassy checks for the man’s pulse, she finds none. And, the pool of blood is a definite proof that the man is not alive. The operator says the sheriff is busy but she will send a deputy. Minutes later, a man in his late fifties or early sixties arrives at the ground. Sassy mistakes him for a customer. Jake Bailey introduces himself as the deputy.

Soon, Sassy is given the news that the victim is the campground’s handyman Daryl Butts. Though Sassy has nothing to do with his murder, she involves herself in the case. After all, she’s just started her new venture and doesn’t want a murder to spoil it.

The Handyman Homicide is a quirky, entertaining and completely engrossing cozy mystery. Absolutely fantastic character portrayal and a very good start to the series. Unlike a few cozy series debuts which concentrate more on the setting and character introduction, this book has the perfect combination of character introduction and a mystery that keeps one guessing till the end.

Reckless is a small town and its residents don many hats. When an ambulance arrives (after Sassy’s 911 call), Jake shouts out: “Hey Steff, I need the coroner, not the EMT.” So what does Steff do? She changes her jacket; off goes the paramedic jacket and in comes the white coat.

Coming to the mystery behind the murder – the victim was known for his gambling addiction. So, did someone kill him for not paying debts? That doesn’t sound right, uh-huh. I really loved the twist in the story – something to do with the victim and why they were killed. Well, once we know the WHY, it is time to find the WHO.

The Reckless Camper Cozy Mysteries has made it to my favorite series already! I cannot wait to see what’s next for Sassy, Elvis and Ellie Mae. Though this is just the first in the series and Sassy has no time for love, I would love to see sparks fly between her and Jake.

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