04 April 2011

Review: Dead by Midnight by Carolyn Hart

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.

Published by HarperCollins / William Morrow, 2011
ISBN-13: 9780061914973
YTD: 35
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Julie P. 4/4/11, 6:30 AM  

I've been reading more cozies as of late and this sounds like a series that I'd love.

Bernadette 4/4/11, 6:43 AM  

A great choice for amateur sleuth - I do enjoy Annie and Max and their cohorts - particularly Max's mother. I would love to have a local outlet of a shop like Annie's nearby (though my bank balance is probably better off without it). One of the annoyances of geographical copyright restrictions is that Kate Reading's narrations of these books are not available to me in Oz - very annoying.

Jen Forbus 4/4/11, 9:02 AM  

This is a series I haven't had the chance to read yet, but how can you resist a bookstore setting? And I have to check out this mother-in-law. She sounds like a hoot!

Anonymous,  4/4/11, 9:12 AM  

I love this series and it has been on my list of must-read for many years. Annie's bookstore is like a dream place. Would love to own it!!

I'm very excited that I'll be in AZ when Carolyn Hart appears at the Poisoned Pen and also at the Velma Teague Library and I'm going to get to go listen to her and pick up a signed copy of this book. Yea!! What a treat!

Zibilee 4/4/11, 9:23 AM  

I don't read many books in this genre, but I like the fact that it centers around a bookshop, and think it might be fun to pick up the first in this series and see what I think of it. You make it sound terribly fun! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

bermudaonion 4/4/11, 9:29 AM  

I love the fact that it's set in South Carolina and it centers around a bookstore. It sounds like I need to check this series out. I'll be back for the giveaway.

Word Lily 4/4/11, 12:13 PM  

I've not read any of these books, but the bookstore? I'm definitely intrigued. :)

Teresa 4/4/11, 1:19 PM  

Ooh, I can see already that this event is going to be dangerous for my TBR list. I am intrigued by this one as well.

Anonymous,  4/4/11, 2:07 PM  

I've read several of Hart's books and enjoy them - this sounds like another one for the Vast and Teetering To Be Read pile. Thanks!

Beth Hoffman 4/4/11, 4:04 PM  

This sounds really good, and I like that it revolves around a bookstore!

Ann Summerville 4/4/11, 10:16 PM  

Thanks for the review.How lovely it would be to work in a bookstore.
Cozy In Texas

Martha@Hey, I want to read that 4/5/11, 11:36 AM  

I love the Death on Demand series. I always use it as an example of author's who have characters who read. I love that about these book. I love she mentions other authors in her books.

Belle Wong 4/6/11, 11:39 PM  

I've seen this series over the years, but have never picked it up. I'm on the lookout for more good audiobooks - I think I'll definitely give this series a try now!

Unknown 4/7/11, 4:17 PM  

I knew I had read the first in the series but couldn't remember if I read more, so I just looked it up. I have only read the first and that was back in 1996! Yikes! I really need to get back to this one. I checked my library for the audio version of the 2nd but sadly they don't have it. I'll have to start back on these in paper form but keep an eye out for the audio's of the more recent titles.

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