Blog Dead, White and Blue by Carolyn Hart
One of the fun aspects of writing a series is finding a different twist, a new approach, a character or action that will surprise long-time readers.
Dead, White and Blue is the 23rd in the Death on Demand series which features Annie Darling, a mystery bookseller on a sea island off the coast of South Carolina, and her husband Max, owner of a quasi-investigative agency Confidential Commissions.
Annie Darling grew up in modest circumstances in Amarillo. She met Max when she was an aspiring young actress in New York. Their backgrounds are utterly dissimilar. Max is rich, laid back, relaxed, and considers fun a lifetime goal. Annie is serious, hardworking, and frugal. They typify a happy marriage, sharing passion, understanding, respect, and laughter. They are involved in their community and often find themselves involved in helping friends or neighbors who are facing calamity
The challenge for the author is to offer readers a new and compelling mystery in each of Annie and Max’s adventures.
In past titles, I have explored the desperate need for love (Deadly Valentine), the terrible burden of pride (Southern Ghost), the anguish of false accusation (Dead Days of Summer), the danger of greed (Death Comes Silently), and the cost of selfishness (Death at the Door, coming in May)
Something new, something different . . . How about a woman walking into the pines never to be seen again?
Dead, White, and Blue focuses on two disappearances. We don’t know what happened to young, gorgeous, reckless Shell Hurst when she left the country club dance and walked into the pines as fireworks flashed in the sky. A few days later an observant waiter who was on the terrace at the country club that night doesn’t show up for work.
Does anyone care that Shell is missing?
Apparently not her husband Wesley. Or the bitter ex-wife Vera, whose place Shell took Or the troubled teenage golfer who hated his stepmother. Or the man who wanted her to run away from him. Or the wife who knew her husband was unfaithful with Shell. Or a would be blackmailer who wishes he’d never heard of Shell. Or the society matron who is only concerned that someone stole her scarf from the back of her chair the night of the dance.
One person cares, the golfer’s teenage sister Hayley wants to know where her stepmother has gone. She comes to Max, asks for help. Max understands this is a family problem and he has no business interfering. The girl goes away in tears.
But Annie Darling thinks someone should look for the missing woman. Annie sets out to discover more about that night at the dance and those who hope Shell never returns. She and Max learn the secret of an old public phone booth, persuade a maid at the Sea Side Inn who knows more about “folks” than they realize to share what she has seen, and uncover the reasoning of a quick-witted teenager faced with an appalling discovery.
Now they know, but they have no proof. Their only hope is that a carefully planned gathering on the country club terrace can unmask a cold and calculating killer.
Dead, White, and Blue (Death on Demand - Book 23) by Carolyn Hart
Publication Date: 05/06/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound
Carolyn Hart on the WEB: website, facebook, goodreads
Books in the series:
Death on Demand
1. Death on Demand
2. Design for Murder
3. Something Wicked
4. Honeymoon With Murder
5. A Little Class on Murder
6. Deadly Valentine
7. The Christie Caper
8. Southern Ghost
9. Mint Julep Murder
10. Yankee Doodle Dead
11. White Elephant Dead
12. Sugarplum Dead
13. April Food Dead
14. Engaged to Die
15. Murder Walks the Plank
16. Death of the Party
17. Dead Days of Summer
18. Death Walked In
19. Dare to Die
20. Laughed 'til He Died
21. Dead by Midnight
22. Death Comes Silently
23. Dead, White, and Blue
Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.
Excerpt from, Dead, White, and Blue, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.
Bookstore owner Annie Darling’s life is all about murder mysteries: reading them, selling them—and solving them…
Summer is a hectic time for Annie and her husband, Max. Sun and scorching temperatures never fail to bring swarms of tourists to their mystery bookstore, Death on Demand, for the latest beach reads. Not to mention the whole island is buzzing with excitement over the upcoming Broward’s Rock Fourth of July dance.
Shell Hurst is the kind of woman wives hate—for good reason—and most of them wish she would just disappear. But when she does—last seen walking into the pine trees during the Fourth of July fireworks display—Annie can’t help but feel like someone should be looking for her.
Annie and Max are soon following a twisted trail marked by blackmail, betrayal, and adultery, winding from the corridors of the island’s lovely inn to a pier lashed by pelting rain, to a gathering on the terrace of a country club where a trap is set for a calculating killer…
Carolyn Hart's 23rd book in the Death on Demand series, Dead, White and Blue has shades of Agatha Christie running through it, as well as, as old fashioned game of Clue. Annie Darling and her husband Max are investigating a couple of disappearances in Broward's Rock and there are definitely some fireworks. Long times readers of the series will marvel at Hart's ability to keep the series fresh and original, while new fans will line up to read the other 22 books in this long lived series. A great addition to the series!
What I liked:
Carolyn Hart is a master at devising new and entertaining plots for her Death on Demand series. Every book has a central theme that Hart works from and Dead, White and Blue is no different. Hart works not from a murder, but a disappearance angle with this book, which was an interesting plot device, and one she hasn't used before with the series. I think readers continue to flock to Hart's books because they are tied together but still provide an original plot every time.
Adultry seems to be on the dance card at the Broward's Rock 4th of July Dance. Shell Hurst is a bit notorious in town and wives have to keep close tabs on their husbands when she is around. When she abruptly disappears during the dance, several people are glad to see her go. But it's up to Annie and Max to find out what really happened in Dead, White and Blue. I liked the theme for this one. There are tons of suspects and a plethora of motives. Hart pulls out all the stops to explain what could have happened to Shell and to the waiter who saw her walk away that night. I think readers will have a difficult time trying to pin down the killer. It's one of the things that make the Death on Demand books so good, they are not at all predictable.
Was it Miss Scarlett in the Lounge with the knife? The ending for this one reminds me a good old fashioned game of clue. Where Annie and Max think they know whodunit, but they can't prove it without drawing out the killer. I love the fact that Hart stays true to her writing roots and continues to write her stories with a flair for Agatha Christie. Her writing is similar to one of the greats in mystery writing and the ending in Dead, White and Blue is exactly how Christie would done it. Get them all together and force a confession. Miss Marple or Hercule Perot would have been proud. It was perfect!
What I didn't like:
Not much to talk about here, since this is one of good ones. Hart has a knack for writing great old school mysteries that draw the reader in and won't let go. I loved it.
If you love Agatha Christie, Carolyn Hart is the writer for you. This a great addition to the Death on Demand series which I for one, hope continues until there are a hundred titles. It's just that good. You'll be missing out if you don't give this one a close examination!
Dead, White and Blue is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
An accomplished master of mystery, Carolyn Hart is the author of twenty-two previous Death on Demand Mysteries. Her books have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. One of the founders of Sisters in Crime, Hart lives in Oklahoma.
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