Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dare to Die by Carolyn Hart

Book Details
Dare to Die by Carolyn Hart
Hardcover, 304 pages
2009, William Morrow
ISBN: 006145303X
Series: Book 19 in the Death on Demand series

In Agatha-winner Hart's winning 19th Death on Demand mystery set in Broward's Rock, S.C. (after 2008's Death Walked In), Annie Darling and her PI husband, Max, invite Iris Tilford, a troubled young woman who used to live in the island community and has recently returned, to a party they're giving at the Broward's Rock pavilion. The party ends in tragedy with Annie and Max's discovery of Iris's strangled body on a path in the surrounding pine woods. Annie promises police chief Billy Cameron she won't meddle in the investigation, but when the killer targets her and Max, she breaks her vow. The plot neatly builds to an exciting climax in the Agatha Christie tradition, with all the suspects gathered near the scene of the crime, each with a strong motive for murder. Hart assembles her usual distinctive supporting cast, including wacky celebrity mystery writer Emma Clyde. Readers will enjoy the many allusions to actual mystery authors and their books, from the classic to the contemporary.

The Death on Demand series has been a long time favorite of mine. I love how the murder mysteries are interlaced with (usually literary based) fun and frivolity. Dare to Die did not follow the usual format. The mystery was front and center for the entire novel and unfortunately the mystery was depressing. The message of the novel was clear - teenagers do stupid things and those things will come back to haunt them as adults if someone doesn't kill them first. And worse, the repeated mentioning of a certain clue made the murderer obvious way too soon. Dare to Die was a fast and easy read, as most cozy mysteries are, but ultimately a disappointment. Sadly, this book was nothing more than average and I have come to expect more from both the author and the series.


Carolyn Hart's website

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