Friday, February 9, 2024

Hammers and Homicide - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Paula Charles to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Paula writes the Hometown Hardware Mystery series. HAMMERS AND HOMICIDE is the first book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: In HAMMERS AND HOMICIDE we meet Dawna Carpenter who runs a hardware store. Are you a handy person who's at home in a hardware store?

PC: My grandparents owned and operated the hardware store in our small hometown, so I spent scads of time in the store. For small projects, I can swing a hammer and use a saw with the best of them. For the last handful of years, my favorite projects have been restoring furniture like April does in the book.

Kathy: Dawna's adult daughter April has moved back to town and the two become involved in the murder investigation. Why choose a daughter as a crime solving partner instead of a friend, or someone else?

PC: That’s a good question. I have two adult daughters myself, who I count as a couple of my closest friends. If it were me needing to jump in to investigate a murder, I’d trust my daughters to have my back.

Kathy: I almost always feel developers are the devil incarnate. What are your thoughts as to why they make great victims?

PC: This question made me chuckle. I’m a former escrow officer who dealt with quite a few land developers. While some are upstanding citizens, it wasn’t too far of a stretch to pull pieces and parts from others together to form the victim in Hammers and Homicide. There’s an arrogance that just makes you want to slap some of them into next week.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

PC: I’m an avid reader and read widely in most genres. Cozy mysteries have long been what I reach for when I need something light between heavier reads. They’re fun and comfortable, like a visit with an old friend.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

PC: I’m new to this author gig, and loving it! This is my first published book of fiction and I have another cozy mystery series coming out in March under the pen name of Janna Rollins, so to answer your question, not yet. I have an idea for a historical fiction novel, but the research seems daunting, so we shall see!


Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

PC: So far, I’m only contracted for the first book in this series, but the second is written and my fingers are crossed for good news. I also write the Zen Goat Mysteries under the pen name of Janna Rollins. AN ESCAPE GOAT comes out in March and features a goat yoga instructor who accidentally invites a murderer to stay at her family’s farm in New Hampshire.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

PC: That’d be like picking a favorite child, though Dawna Carpenter is near and dear to my heart because she’s based on my grandmother.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

PC: Yes, as I mentioned above, Dawna is loosely based on my grandmother, who owned and operated the hardware store in my hometown. Pine Bluff is also based on my hometown, though I’ve fictionalized it.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

PC: I wanted my grandkids to think I was famous!

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

PC: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Alice Hoffman, Ann Hite, and Harper Lee.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

PC: TIDELANDS by Phillipa Gregory. Historical fiction set in England in the 1600s.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

PC: Reading! I love to read and am never without a book nearby. I knit, though not as much as I used to. I find after a day of writing, my hands aren’t up for an evening of knitting. In the spring and summer, I like to dig in the dirt. We plant a vegetable garden and I have scads of flower beds.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

PC: Almond milk, potato chips, cashew ice cream, and broccoli.  


Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

PC: I’d like for their to be a minimum of three books in the Hometown Hardware series, but that depends on my publisher. I’m contracted for three books in the Zen Goat series and have just finished up writing book two. 


Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

PC: The people I have met. The cozy mystery community is incredibly welcoming and supportive. I’ve made some great new friends here! 



The First Hometown Hardware Mystery

It's another beautiful summer's day in Pine Bluff, Oregon. Dawna Carpenter is preparing to open her hardware store for the day and not even her annoying tenant who owns the shop next door can get her down. Her youngest daughter, April, has moved back into town, ostensibly to help with design aspect of the store, but Dawna thinks she's there to make sure she hasn't lost whatever marbles she has left after becoming a widow. The day soon gets a lot darker, not because of an impending mountain storm, but because Dawna finds a dead body in the bathroom. Dawna soon discovers that a lot of people had issues with the dead developer. When her good friend is arrested and she thinks the police have stopped investigating, having found their man, she and April step in. Will the mother and daughter duo be able to find the real killer?  
Dawna Carpenter is a bit silly, goofy, and accident prone, but I find I really like her. She is aware of her foibles and embraces them. Her daughter, April, also makes a fine character, strong, yet caring with a wry sense of humor. One of my favorite things about HAMMERS AND HOMICIDE is the slight paranormal touch. Dawna senses her late husband...and cat. It is by no means considered a paranormal mystery, but I love that special touch. Pine Bluff, Oregon makes a gorgeous setting. I'd love to wander around town. And I love that while there may be a romance on the horizon, it's not with Dawna.

I enjoyed the mystery and the way Dawna goes about her regular business while she investigates. I also got a kick out of the ruse she and Dawna used to gain access to neighbors' homes. I can just picture them and that little red wagon.

A fun mother daughter duo make HAMMERS AND HOMICIDE an enjoyable start to a new series.

 Hammers and Homicide (A Hometown Hardware Mystery) by Paula Charles

About Hammers and Homicides

Hammers and Homicide (A Hometown Hardware Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - Oregon
Crooked Lane Books (January 16, 2024)
Hardcover: ‎ 280 pages

Perfect for fans of Kate Carlisle and Victoria Gilbert, when a body is found in a hardware store, will Dawna Carpenter’s sleuthing measure up to find the killer?

Recent sexagenarian widow Dawna Carpenter thought running her own hardware store after the death of her husband was hard enough. With her adult daughter, April, moving back into town, and Darlene, the annoying boutique owner next door to her shop poking around, Dawna has her hands full. But when she finds a dead man in the bathroom of her store, with a framing hammer by his side, she’s in way over her head.

The victim, Warren Highcastle, was a land developer who was looking to purchase the old theater in town to build a new hotel. Dawna and April, worried about the implications of the crime scene at the hardware store, put themselves on the case. They soon learn that Warren had made quite a few enemies in his short amount of time in town. As the suspect list starts growing, so too do the threats against Dawna and April. Can Dawna and April nail the killer before they strike again?

About Paula Charles


When Paula Charles isn't writing under the towering trees of the Pacific Northwest, she can be found in the garden with her hands in the dirt or sitting on her front porch with a good book and a glass of iced tea. She has a love for small towns, ghost stories, and pie. Paula lives on a small farm in Southwestern Washington with her patient husband and a handful of furry and feathered critters. Paula also writes cozy mysteries under the pen name of Janna Rollins.  

Author Links: 

Website: Cozy Mystery Writer | Paula Charles Cozy Mystery Author  




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  1. Thank you bunches for having me on your blog today, Kathy! I enjoyed it a lot! - Paula Charles