Author Carolyn Hart entertains fans once again with the newest offering in her Death on Demand Mystery series.
Winter has come to Broward’s Rock, a South Carolina island community. Annie Darling’s Death on Demand mystery bookstore hits a slow spot in sales, allowing her more time for volunteer work at the local charity shop, Better Tomorrow. Still, she jumps at the chance to hold a book signing for local mystery writer Emma Clyde. Because the event will interfere with Annie’s scheduled charity work shift, she calls her friend, Gretchen Burkholt, to fill in for her. An excitable personality, Gretchen interrupts the book signing with a number of phone calls, anxious to share gossip with Annie.
"DEATH COMES SILENTLY draws to a tense climax following fast-moving events. The characterization produces many surprises that will entice a broad readership."
Annie is finally able to tear away from the event to check on Gretchen at the thrift shop, only to discover her lifeless body on the floor and a bloody axe nearby. Gretchen had phoned Annie, terrified about the contents of a note card she found and afraid of a handyman who did odd jobs at the shop. When Annie arrives, the handyman is gone from the scene. Police soon determine that fingerprints on the axe did indeed belong to him, making for an open-and-shut case, and an all-out search for him begins. Annie remains puzzled about the contents of the index card Gretchen discovered.
Annie contacts Better Tomorrow’s director, Henny Brawley, with information about the murder and consoles her that her hiring Jeremiah would not reflect badly on the shop. Henny’s response is atypical, reserved and detached, giving Annie a red herring to pursue. Her active mind goes into sleuth mode, forcing out the questions about the crime that concern her. Unlike earlier books in the series, Hart is more generous with her twists here. We meet numerous characters, each with a possible motive for Gretchen’s murder.
Hart brings together a huge cast of characters, releasing clues to lead the reader into investigative mode, anxious to prove Annie right. The mayor, as in previous Death on Demand books, appears pompous and over-righteous. DEATH COMES SILENTLY draws to a tense climax following fast-moving events. The characterization produces many surprises that will entice a broad readership.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on July 13, 2012