Plot Summary: Henny Brawley convinces Annie Darling to hire Pat Merridew at Death on Demand after Pat is let go from her long time job as receptionist at a local law firm on Broward’s Rock. Annie is hesitant, Pat is not a mystery reader, but the bookstore needs the help, and Annie is pleasantly surprised by how well Pat is working out. Till the day that Pat doesn’t come into work. Annie could kill her, except Pat is already dead of an apparent suicide. Henny refuses to believe it, and convinces Annie to help prove otherwise. When just days later Glenn Jamison, Pat’s former boss is found murdered and his sister Elaine is the number one suspect, Annie knows that the deaths are connected, if she could only prove it.
Thoughts: I love Carolyn Hart. Over the years I have read many cozy mystery writers and series and at some point they lose steam. The mystery elements are not as strong, ongoing love triangles get really old (I’m looking at you Janet Evanovich, Diane Mott Davidson and Joanne Fluke). But not Hart and her Death on Demand series. Perhaps it helps that there is no love triangle or cutesy recipes or other gimmicks. Instead, we have the people of Broward’s Rock going about their daily lives. They just are a little homicide prone. Or maybe it is all the references to both Golden Age and current mystery fiction and writers. I love the coffee mugs with the mystery titles on them and the mystery paintings contest featured in each installment. When Annie mentioned Kathryn Wall I felt like I was “in the know” because she is certainly a lesser known writer who deserves more readers.
This entry in the series (number 21) does not disappoint. Matter of fact, in addition to a tangled plot, we have a scene worthy of Nancy Drew (who I feel is Annie’s ancestor) where Annie breaks into a house looking for clues and a suspenseful climax where Annie’s life is in danger. I like that Hart doesn’t hold back just because this is a cozy. I think it shows that she and her series have kept up with the times and trends. I will say that I did figure out who done it (which is rare for me) but not why. And unlike other times when this has been the case, I was not disappointed but pleased to think I had solved the puzzle. Looking at Hart’s website, I am happy to see there are several newer entries in the series waiting to be enjoyed. And I highly recommend the audiobooks, they are a pleasure to listen to.
” Expert pacing and a tense climax distinguish this intriguing variation on the locked room mystery.”–Publisher’s Weekly
“A mystery bookseller once more finds real-life murders harder to solve than the ones in the books she loves….Hart’s latest cozy puzzler casts a net that will ensnare a wide audience.”–Kirkus Reviews
Reviewed from public library audiobook copy. Amazon Affiliate: If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.