In her last tantalizing mystery, Dead Man's Island, award-winning author Carolyn G. Hart gave us a colorful new heroine, seasoned ex-journalist turned sleuth Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins. Now Henrie O is back...this time investigating a brutal murder in a lovely southern town where wealth and privilege mask a hotbed of lies, sex, and deadly desperation.... Henrie O is looking forward to a peaceful holiday at her friend Margaret's Tennessee mountain cabin. But Henrie O awakens to find Margaret's nephew, his shirt stained with blood, his handsome face stricken by fear and horror.... Craig Matthews swears he didn't kill his wife, swears he didn't lure Patty Kay out to the playhouse on their lavish Fair Haven estate and leave her bloodied and dead. Why, then, did he run away? It's a question the authorities want answered, and when Craig cannot explain away the evidence found at the crime scene or the suspicion that he'd married - and now murdered - for money, Henrie O finds herself drawn into the thick of a life-and-death drama among the privileged residents of Fair Haven. For Margaret's sake she agrees to pursue the investigation and finds that as Craig's "aunt" she has instant entree into Fair Haven's best families. But the more Henrie O becomes privy to their deepest fears and most intimate secrets, the more she begins to question their motives. How had they really felt about Patty Kay Prentiss Matthews, a warm, vibrant woman whose forceful personality meant she'd always gotten her way? In this outwardly idyllic town, it seems there are many with reason to feel threatened: not only the widower, who claims he's a hapless victim in a cleverly devised frame-up, but Patty Kay's sullen nymphet of a daughter whose transparent love for her stepfather is anything but innocent; Patty Kay's irresistible ex-husband, who may never have released her; the dead woman's venomous, grasping sister.
Agatha Award-winning Hart takes her retired Missouri newspaperwoman, Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins, introduced in Dead Man's Island, to Tennessee, where she becomes the honorary aunt of a young man accused of killing his wife. Henrie O is vacationing at the mountain cabin of her friend Margaret, who is recovering from heart surgery, when Margaret's nephew, Craig Matthews, arrives distraught and bloodied. As he tells of having found his kitchen demolished and his wife Patty Kay murdered, Henrie O realizes that the weak-willed, perhaps devious, Craig has set himself up as the killer by running from the scene. As a favor to Margaret, she decides to investigate. In ritzy Fair Haven, near Nashville, Henrie discovers that the murdered woman had been a vibrant, forceful figure in town, a teacher and trustee at a posh private school (where a teenage girl recently committed suicide) and the owner of a bookstore where her friends worked as a sideline to their social pursuits. Gradually connecting the student's suicide to Patty Kay's death, Henrie also learns that each of the woman's friends has a motive for murder. From the first pages to the climax, where she uses a cannister of Mace to save herself from a murderer, Hart's widowed sleuth is a heroine of admirable courage and wit.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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April 29, 1995
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