Review

Engaged to Die: A Death on Demand Mystery

by Carolyn Hart



Carolyn Hart, where have you been all my life?

Seriously, how is it that I never spotted you on the bookshelves
amongst the Sue Graftons and Patricia Cornwells and Sarah
Paretskys? Well, I have now rectified that, thank goodness.

Carolyn Hart is a mystery lover's dream come true. Her stories are
for anyone who will confess to the guilty pleasure of reading
serial mysteries (okay, and even for those of you who won't admit
it, but secretly indulge nonetheless). ENGAGED TO DIE is Hart's
latest installment --- the fourteenth installment, to be exact ---
in the Death on Demand whodunit series featuring Annie and Max
Darling, amateur detectives reminiscent of Nick and Nora
Charles.

Annie Darling owns a bookstore, but not just any bookstore. She is
the proprietor of Death on Demand, a popular venue on the island of
Broward's Rock in South Carolina that specializes in selling
leather-bound enigmas and paperback puzzlers. If you have ever
walked into a real-life mystery bookstore like The Cloak and Dagger
in Princeton, NJ, you know the sheer joy of losing yourself in the
thievery, murder and mayhem oozing from the pages authored by
Dashiell Hammett, Carolyn Keene or Arthur Conan Doyle.

The bookstore setting is ingenious; it affords Hart the opportunity
to show off her knowledge of mystery writers, new and old, great
and virtually unknown. Conversations in the store between Annie and
her customers are peppered with titles and authors, and the reader,
if a lover of mysteries, can't help but feel that he or she is part
of a special club. Henny Brawley is described as the store's best
customer; each of her visits results in the purchase of several
books and the exchange of mystery trivia. (Brownie points for
anyone who knows the significance of the name "Hepzibah" in the
mystery genre.) The bookstore even boasts a cat named Agatha,
homage to you-know-who.

The mystery at hand in ENGAGED TO DIE: Jake O'Neill, the young,
handsome fiancé of widowed --- and wealthy --- Virginia
Neville, has been murdered, his body found face down at the end of
an oyster-shell path at an ocean overlook. The suspects are many,
including Chloe, the young assistant who works in Annie's store and
who had fallen in love with Jake. The Neville family is also not
without motive. Upset by their father's bequest, which left
virtually everything to Virginia, his nurse-turned-second wife,
each of the Neville children could have and might have bashed in
Jake's head to keep him from benefiting from the family
inheritance.

Max Darling, a lawyer and devoted husband of Annie, is deputized
into duty by the acting police chief and begins to investigate the
death. Annie decides to launch a search of her own, hoping to
exonerate her co-worker. Their seemingly different paths ultimately
intersect, as they become unknowing targets of the murderer.

Find Carolyn Hart on the bookshelf. Read ENGAGED TO DIE. Or, better
yet, start at the beginning with DEATH ON DEMAND, the first in the
series, and work your way up to ENGAGED TO DIE. That's my
plan.

Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 21, 2011

Engaged to Die: A Death on Demand Mystery
by Carolyn Hart

  • Publication Date: November 30, -0001
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Avon
  • ISBN-10: 0060004703
  • ISBN-13: 9780060004705