Dead by Midnight is the twenty-first entry in Carolyn Hart's award-winning Death on Demand mystery series featuring Annie Laurance Darling and her husband, Max. When Annie moved to Broward's Rock, South Carolina, to take over her uncle's mystery bookstore, she found herself caught up in a local murder investigation. Since then she and Max have helped solved a variety of cases both on the island and on the nearby mainland.
In Dead by Midnight, Annie and Max take an interest in a local death that the police rule a suicide. To the Darlings, the facts add up to murder. The police agree to keep the file open but aren't convinced they have a crime on their hands. After two more killings, clues start to fall into place, and Annie thinks she has the perfect plan for exposing the murderer.
As always in Hart's Death in Demand series, the facts and clues make sense, and if you pay careful attention, you just might solve the mystery before Annie and Max. More often than not, however, you'll be fooled by the well-crafted red herrings, and just when you're sure you know the answer, you'll turn the page and see you're wrong.
A successful cozy series needs more than a good mystery to keep it strong through twenty-one books, and Death on Demand delivers. Annie and Max's relationship grows from boyfriend/girlfriend in the early books to happily married in the later books. They have a loving and supportive relationship that has only one tiny flaw: Max's mother, Laurel. Laurel is a bit of flake--she often means well, but she drives Annie crazy. Laurel's latest schemes and obsessions are always fun to follow.
Throughout the series, we meet many of Broward's Rock's citizens and Annie and Max's friends. The town comes alive, making us as comfortable in the local diner and on the boardwalk as are the Darlings. Annie's bookstore is a local gathering place, and it is great fun to learn what titles are displayed in the store's front window and which books the tourists are buying off the shelves. Who can resist a mystery series that will add to your reading list?
As a side note, if you are an audiobook fan, don't miss the audio editions narrated by the wonderful Kate Reading. I have spent many, many hours listening to Annie and Max's adventures, and I love Reading's performances.
Be sure to stop by tomorrow for a guest post from Carolyn Hart, who gives us a bit more insight into one of my favorite series. On Thursday I'll be holding a worldwide giveaway of two copies of Dead by Midnight.
Don't forget to visit Jen's Book Thoughts for more posts in her Moonlight for Murder event.
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Published by HarperCollins / William Morrow, 2011
Source: Review (see review policy)
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