An accomplished master of mystery, Carolyn Hart is the author of twenty previous Death on Demand novels. Her books have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards. She is also the creator of the Henrie O series, featuring a retired reporter, and the Bailey Ruth series, starring an impetuous, redheaded ghost. One of the founders of Sisters in Crime, Hart lives in Oklahoma City.
In this 12th Death on Demand adventure, Anthony and Agatha award-winner Hart uses a couple of reliable mystery devices to serve up a story as entertaining as any in this deservedly popular series. The first of these is the perennial fake psychic, here handsome charmer Emory Swanson, who comes to Broward's Rock Island to establish the Evermore Foundation, where individualsDparticularly rich, older womenDcan get in touch with their dearly departed. One of Swanson's unsuspecting devotes is retired movie star Marguerite Dumaney. She's still glamorous, still imperious, and ready to sign over her fortune to the foundation, though her many needy relatives have other ideas for her money. While any of them might be desperate enough to kill Marguerite, it's Happy, her aptly named sister, who is murdered. Annie Darling, proprietor of the Death on Demand Mystery Book Store, enters the picture when her long-absent father, who turns out to be Happy's ex-husband, appears. Annie, ably assisted by husband Max, has to clear her father and stepsister of suspicion, while she simultaneously searches for the real culprit. The evidence surrounding a second murder points to the man they all love to hate: Swanson. Or is he too obvious? Another classic story twist resolves matters in a fully satisfying finale. Hart, who's also the author of the Henrie O series (Death in Paradise, etc.), knits a tidy plot, though the cute descriptions of Max and Annie's cat, Agatha, may be too cloying for some. The insider view of the mystery bookstore world remains a special draw. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
The catalytic agent in Hart's latest series addition (White Elephant Dead) is "Pudge" Laurence, the long-lost father of bookstore-owner and village sleuth Annie Laurence Darling. At the behest of a famous actress, Pudge is visiting Broward's Island, SC, where a financially slippery purveyor of crystals and otherworldly contacts creates problems for both families; the actress and Annie's mother-in-law seem enamored of his ways. Annie must tread a fine line, then: she tries to help her mother-in-law while circumventing her unwanted father. An charismatic characterization, the familiar island, and an excellent plot that is nicely knit together make this an essential purchase. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/00.] Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.