Death of the Party: A Death on Demand Mystery
Far from Annie Darling's Death on Demand Bookstore, Carolyn Hart's
latest mystery invades the quiet of a remote island. Darling's
husband, Max, a private investigator, is hired to uncover
background tidbits about hostess Brit Barlow's guests.
She's chosen them carefully, with one common thread. Each one was
present the weekend when her sister's husband, Jeremiah Addison,
had fallen down the staircase to his death. When Cissy Addison
died, Britt inherited the island resort.
Golden Silk offers quiet, good food, generous hospitality and an
ambiance of eerie calm. Accessible only by ferry from the mainland,
guests receive benefit of creature comfort without the distractions
of modern communication, save for radio in emergencies. One by one,
they disembark on the island, unaware that each must help solve a
year-old murder. Confidential Commissions, Max's business, must
compile resume sheets for all.
Hart's descriptive phrases well personify all the guests. But she
leaves the reader fuzzy when it comes to Annie's true colors. Annie
comes off as curious, beyond the norm. But her nature may well
inhibit the forward progress of her husband's investigation. She's
anxious to solve the mystery and plunges full throttle ahead,
especially when one of the guests, Everett Crenshaw, comes up dead.
A journalist, Crenshaw had dredged enough mud on all the guests
assembled to bury each in murderous motivation.
The disappearance of the resort's handyman, along with the
motorboat --- the sole mode of transportation to the mainland ---
provides suspense. Fear is evident when all assembled realize that,
despite personal guilt or innocence, they've been denied a means of
escape. Harry Lyle is not forthcoming about his sketchy background
when Max meets up with him earlier at the water's edge. The hired
man has an attic full of secrets to hide from the curious, making
him an automatic target for the investigators.
Evidence builds when the Darlings work to piece the accusations
together in a solution to the two crimes. Both sons of the murdered
Addison had reason to commit the homicide, as well as their wives,
a celebrity political figure and her husband, the maid, the
handyman, and the hostess. Much conversation, a small bit of
action, much conjecture, and numerous innuendoes are the tools of
the author. DEATH OF THE PARTY is a quick weekend read that is
entertaining, although predictable.
The plot pattern works well for Hart. She has produced a stable of
Death on Demand mysteries, keeping her faithful followers
well-supplied with Annie Darling's adventures. Annie finds herself
in precarious circumstances once again but manages to teeter at the
brink of extinction until the reader breathes easy when she
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on December 29, 2010