Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Laughed 'Til He Died by Carolyn Hart

Book Details
Laughed 'Til He Died by Carolyn Hart
Hardcover, 288 pages
2010, William Morrow
ISBN: 0061453099
Series: Book 20 of Death on Demand

Intrigue and foul play are no strangers to the idyllic South Carolina sea island of Broward's Rock. Mystery bookstore owner Annie Darling and her husband, Max, who specialize in solving problems, plunge into a startling web of danger and deceit when a trio of deaths is linked to the island's youth recreation center.

With the evidence mounting against her, the center's director seeks out Max to clear her name. When it comes to intrigue, where Max goes, Annie isn't far behind. To save an innocent woman, the pair scrambles to unravel three complex interlinked puzzles: the mystery of three guns, the pulled-out pant pockets of one victim, and the disappearance of a teenager whose stepfather always had the last laugh—until he died.

Carolyn Hart's Death on Demand series has been a favorite cozy series of mine for many years. Annie Darling owns a mystery bookstore (Death on Demand, obviously) and mystery is the main theme throughout the series, both up front with the murders and in the background through the books Annie sells. The novels are full of mystery references which is sure to delight fans of the genre.

In Laughed 'Til He Died, the 20th installment of the series, Hart offers up a mystery that boggles the mind in the best way possible. By the middle of the novel, I was utterly convinced of the killer's identity. I was off base, but looking back, the clues were right there. I have read all the previous books in the Death on Demand series and feel rather acquainted with Hart's style, so it was a fantastic surprise to find myself so far off base.

The prime suspect in the murder comes to Max, Annie's husband, for help on another matter before the victim was killed. I loved how Annie and Max had a legitimate reason to be as involved in the investigation as they were. The island's famous mystery author, Death on Demand's best customer and Max's mom were all there to lend their specialized viewpoints as well.

Oh, how I wish there was a real Death on Demand close to home. A store full of nothing but mysteries, the coffee in mugs adorned with mystery titles, a big stuffed raven; the image sound like a place I would never want to leave. A scene where Annie was setting up themed displays, mentioning both famous and new to me authors and titles made me want to be Annie. What fun it would be to own Death on Demand (you know, without all the murders.)

Laughed 'Til He Died contains a great mystery surrounded by mysteries and was great fun. Actually, it was one of the very best in the series and if Carolyn Hart can entertain this well after 20 books, I would love to read at least 20 more.


Carolyn Hart's website