In the cozy whodunit “Flipped Out,” the action and mystery start early when main character Avery Baker finds a dead man in the living room of a house she’s about to redecorate.

Baker is an amateur detective as skilled in sleuthing as she is with a hammer and saw. But she faces yet another challenge at the outset of this home-repair thriller: She has less than a week to turn the fixer-upper into a show house, because a film crew is standing by to chronicle her lightning-speed makeover for a television program.

Since a screwdriver-stabbed body in the house is a major inconvenience, Avery — with her physician-turned-carpenter boyfriend — has a crime to solve in addition to pulling off her rapid house conversion.

“Flipped Out,” so named because “flipped” is television jargon for doing a fast house makeover, is author Jennie Bentley’s fifth book in her “Do-It-Yourself” mystery series. Like other Bentley books, this recent opus is already popular with readers. That’s probably due to the Avery Baker character Bentley created.

Besides being the novel’s No. 1 personality, Avery narrates the mystery. She’s garrulous, smart and a bit ditsy. Despite the book’s subject matter (murder), parts of the mystery are quite funny.

Baker tells readers, for example, that she keeps her nails short because long, glamorous nails wouldn’t make it through carpentry projects. Then she says, “(But) I do tend to go a little crazy on my toes. At the moment they were lime green with pink tips to match my sundress, which had a border of green and brown palm trees against a pink sky marching around the hem.”

At another point early in the mystery, Bentley — through Baker — describes an unappealing film crew member, Adam. He was, she writes, “one of those guys who was totally in love with himself. He told me every detail of his career, from playing baby Jesus in the local Christmas pageant as a newborn until this point.”

There’s even a flash of humor about the murder victim, a glamour- seeking TV news reporter, Tony “the Tiger” Micelli. His car has “GRRR” on its vanity plate.

“Flipped Out” is set in a mostly upscale coastal Maine town given the name Waterfield. The town’s police chief, Wayne Rasmussen, is a bumbling investigator given to locking up the wrong people. (In real life, murder investigation in a small town is the job of the Maine State Police.)

A problem with the book is Bentley’s constant use of cliches. On page one, narrator Baker tells readers how she and boyfriend Derek “worked our fingers to the bone.” The drab house they’re redecorating will be “cute as a button,” Baker continues.

Jennie Bentley is a pseudonym for Bente Gallagher, a writer born in Norway who immigrated to New York. Under a second pen name of Jenna Bennett, she’s written another series of books called the “Cutthroat Business Mysteries.” They feature Savannah Martin, a real estate agent from Nashville.

Gallager has published still other mysteries using her real name. She lives in Nashville.

Cozies on the home-repair and real-estate themes have been very popular in recent years. I’ve reviewed three books in this genre.

The blog “Mystery Book Series with a Home Repair Theme” cites 10 more by other authors.

“Flipped Out” is an escape hatch from drab winter days. 

Lloyd Ferriss is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Richmond.