Master mystery spinner Carolyn Hart gives us the tenth high-spirited entry in her Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Award-winning Death on Demand series.
The most delectable sleuthing couple since Nick met Nora, Annie and Max Darling manage to find quite a bit of murder in their allegedly safe and serene South Carolina island resort town. After all, murder is Annie's business -- well, sort of. She's the proprietor of the popular Death on Demand mystery bookstore and cafe, and her establishment seems to attract trouble like Annie's pesky felines, Dorothy L. and Agatha, attract hairballs. Now, Annie and Max watch their Fourth of July holiday explode not only with fun and fireworks, but with murder as well.
The library board wants to declare its independence from new member, retired Brigadier General Charlton "Bud" Hatch, a man accustomed to being in charge. Hatch's takeover attitude has alienated everyone in town, especially the women. But Annie finds it difficult to ignore him at a crowded patriotic festival -- particularly when he's shot dead before her eyes...
This ninth in the Death on Demand series (after Mint Julep Murder, 1995) finds mystery-bookstore owner Annie Darling in top form: polite, considerate, cheerful and relentlessly investigative. Retired Brigadier General Charlton "Bud" Hatch is a newcomer to the tiny resort community of Broward's Rock, S.C., where his arrogance, power and extreme right-wing views have quickly antagonized many of the genteel yet clannish residents. When Hatch is shot to death at the island's annual Fourth of July festival, Annie and her relaxed but shrewd husband, Max, utilize their connections and gentle diplomacy to interview some of the many idiosyncratic natives who loathed the general. Was he murdered by a cuckolded husband? What about the young, sweet do-gooder whom Hatch had terrified? Or the gay library director whose job had been threatened by the moralistic library trustee? Annie and Max tap into the best source of information anywhere?rampant gossip?and, aided by society doyenne Miss Dora, find out more than they want to know. Might Max's flaky and much-married mother be another suspect? Rich in Southern atmosphere (lots of live oak, Spanish moss and the ever-present smell of the salt marsh), populated by a diverse and engaging cast, including the fallible, endearing leads, and following a deftly constructed plot line, this tale is charming?and gripping.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . I liked it.
Posted July 04, 2011 by Linn , AlexandriaI love Death on Demand mysteries. This one was just as good as the other ones I read.
August 03, 1999
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Excerpt from Yankee Doodle Dead by Carolyn Hart
Annie Laurance Darling moved swiftly. Or as swiftly as she could propel her body through air thicker than congealing Jell-O. Her hair curled in tendrils. Her skin felt as moist as pond scum. If it got any more humid, Calcutta would be a resort in comparison. She thought longingly of cool air. Maybe she would read The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rinehart. It was always cool in Maine. Rinehart's heroine shivered. And lit fires.
Why had she ever come to this island where the summer air was heavier than mercury? She had a sudden, unsettling, cold sensation. She knew why she'd come to the land of no-see-ums, swamps and fragrant magnolias. She'd come to Broward's Rock a few years earlier because she was running away from a close encounter with one Maxwell Darling. How weird! What if Max hadn't, in his own imperturbable, incredibly determined way, followed her? What if now she wasn't Annie Laurance Darling, but just Annie Laurance? It would be a cold world indeed. She felt like flinging out her arms and embracing the humid, spongy air. What did a little heat matter?
Annie stopped at the door of her store and grinned. What could be better than a nice hot day in her own very happy corner of the world? Dear Max. And her wonderful store. She studied the name with pleasure -- Death On Demand -- in tasteful gold letters. Without doubt it was the finest name for the finest mystery bookstore east of Atlanta. Smaller letters, also in gold, announced: "Annie Laurance Darling, Prop." She felt warm all over, a nice, comfortable, happy inner warmth that had nothing to do with humidity. Max. Her store. Her books. Hers to enjoy. It would, in fact, be an utterly lovely day -- except for the library board. She had tried to ignore a niggling sense of uneasiness all day. But her nerves quivered like snapping flags heralding a coming storm. The solution was obvious. Easy. No. She knew how to say no. That was all that was required to stay free of the controversy swirling around the library.
Determinedly, she stared at the Death on Demand window. She didn't really need to look at the window. After all, she'd put in the new display only last week. But it was clever, if she said so herself: a cherry-and-green-striped parasol open behind a mound of golden sand, a tipped-over beach bucket with a shower of brightly colored paperbacks spilling out -- Miss Zukas and the Library Murders by Jo Dereske, Something's Cooking by Joanne Pence, Murder on a Girls' Night Out by Anne George, Memory Can Be Murder by Elizabeth Daniels Squire, and Blooming Murder by Jean Hager.
Good mysteries. Fun mysteries. And that's what summer was all about: snow cones and walking fast on hot sand to plunge into cool water and mounds of mysteries; buckets of clams and kissing in the moonlight and piles of paperbacks with smoking guns or blood-dripping daggers on front covers, yellow, red and blue crime scenes on back covers.
Of course, those colorful covers were declasse today. But Paperback mysteries published in the forties and fifties, oh, what great back covers they had -- drawings of the manor house, sketches of the library where X marked the spot, maps of the village showing the rectory and the church, the graveyard and the shops along the high street. And, even more fun, the reader often found inside an equally colorful description of the book's contents, such as:
What This Mystery's About --
A bloodstained handkerchief.
The reason the cat meowed at midnight.
A dog named Petunia.
The contents of the rosewood box.
A woman with one husband, two lovers, and an angry sister.
A gun, a dagger, and a missing rhinoceros.
Golly, those were the great days of the mystery. And she always remembered Uncle Ambrose when she thought about old, great mysteries. Death on Demand had been his store originally, a smaller, much more masculine retreat.