April Fool Dead (Death on Demand Series #13)

April Fool Dead (Death on Demand Series #13)

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by Carolyn G. Hart

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Someone is playing a rather nasty April Fool's prank on mystery bookstore owner Annie Darling. A felonious forger on the idyllic -- if rarely tranquil -- South Carolina island of Broward's Rock has made it appear as if Annie is accusing some of her neighbors of murder. In the wink of a bloodshot eye, the Darling name is mud . . . and then the Broward's Rock body

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Someone is playing a rather nasty April Fool's prank on mystery bookstore owner Annie Darling. A felonious forger on the idyllic -- if rarely tranquil -- South Carolina island of Broward's Rock has made it appear as if Annie is accusing some of her neighbors of murder. In the wink of a bloodshot eye, the Darling name is mud . . . and then the Broward's Rock body count starts mysteriously increasing. And now it's up to Annie to follow the well-hidden trail of the vicious trickster -- or a secret slayer's next lethal "joke" may very well be on her!

Editorial Reviews

Diane Mott Davidson
“Carolyn Hart has served up yet another delicious mystery that kept me guessing until the end. YUM!”
Mary Daheim
“Carolyn Hart’s craftmanship makes her mystery’s Queen of C’s--cozy, clever, and chock full of charm.”
Robert Crais
“I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for Carolyn Hart’s Annie and Max series.”
Earlene Fowler
“Carolyn Hart’s thoughtful innovative mysteries make her, without a doubt, among the best crime writers living today.”
“A tantalizing mystery...Perfect for Murder, She Wrote fans.”
Orlando Sentinel
Praise for Sugarplum Dead“A lively tale with well-drawn characters.”
Denver Post
“Tantalizing...Keeps the reader guessing all the way.”
Baltimore Sun
“The Darling duo is as winning as ever.”
Chicago Sun-Times
Rave reviews for Carolyn Hart and the Death on Demand Series“Displays the charm and coziness of Christie.”
Toronto Globe and Mail
“One of the cleverest puzzle plots around.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The reigning monarch of the amateur sleuth mystery delivers royally.”
The State Columbia (SC)
“...An honest-to-goodness whodunit, with enough red herrings to fill a pickle barrel...a tour de force.”
The 13th installment of the popular Death on Demand mystery series is a lucky charm. It begins with what appears to a malicious prank: Someone is sending out flyers that mimic that the format of one of Anna Darling's Death on Demand Bookstore promotions. But instead of just copyright infringement, the Darlings discover that they have a homicide on their hands….
Publishers Weekly
In Hart's 13th winning outing (after 2000's Sugar Plum Dead) to feature Annie Darling, the owner of Death on Demand Bookstore, "the best mystery bookstore east of Atlanta," has planned the signing to end all signings for a local writer on their South Carolina island. But someone produces fake copies of publicity flyers for the signing and sets a cat among the pigeons to solve some old crimes and settle some old scores. Annie and her charming husband, Max, hasten to salvage the shop's event and Annie's reputation. Their efforts to resolve the mystery of the bogus flyers bring to light clues to several unsolved crimes. A high school teacher subsequently turns up dead. Was the murder committed to keep old secrets buried, or is a new onslaught of crime just beginning? A serpentine plot includes plenty of red herrings to lead the armchair sleuth firmly in the wrong direction. The descriptions of wildlife add to the sense of place, but neither advance the story nor illuminate the characters. Established readers will relish the usual banter between the couple that evokes classic screwball comedy, though at times the author can be overly formulaic. Max is always "sexy as hell." "Hell" and "damn" are about as strong as the language gets, by the way. If cats play only a minor role here, their presence on the jacket will help lure those cozy fans not already familiar with this consistently fine series. 5-city author tour. (Apr. 1) FYI: Hart is also the author of Resort to Murder (Forecasts, Mar. 12, 2001) and other titles in the Henrie O series. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Having plastered teensy Broward Rock, South Carolina, with flyers announcing local super-author Emma Clyde's upcoming book signing at Death on Demand, proprietor Annie Darling is extremely agitated when someone cribs her style and issues similar-looking flyers that accuse locals of hit-and-run driving, adultery, the wrongful incarceration of wife-killer Jud Hamilton, the inappropriately accidental verdict assigned to Emma's second husband's drowning, and the fatal mishap of a tipsy heiress aboard a yacht. Swinging into full amateur detective mode, Annie and her husband Max, stalwart of the newly opened Confidential Commissions, scour the island in search of the mysterious flyer-writer. Max's wacky mom Laurel, on the trail of drug-runners, is shot at and goes to ground; a teacher who lives near where Laurel was sniped at is shot and killed; and a beautiful, worried student, who recently dumped her boyfriend for the lure of an older man, is found drowned in unfriendly waters. Still, the Darlings, their friend Henny, and mystery writer Clyde continue to play detective-interrogating, prying, entrapping, alternately aiding and impeding the local coppers. But not to worry: it all comes out fine, if you discount a few murders, in time for Emma Clyde to hold forth at a packed book signing. Silly, illogical, and increasingly mannered. But devotees of the Death on Demand series (Sugar Plum Dead, 2000, etc.) will probably adore the mystery quizzes, the suggested reading titles, and the serene hubris that lets amateurs believe they can outsolve the pros.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Death on Demand Series, #13
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.84(d)

Read an Excerpt

April Fool Dead Chapter One

The early-morning sun slanted through the pines, throwing huge shadows across the dusty gray road. Bob Tower's face was flushed, his heartbeat elevated. He was suffused with runner's euphoria, his arms swinging easily, his stride long, his shoes thudding rhythmically on the soft dirt. He smiled, at peace with the world. When his run was over, Jessie waited for him, eager and loving. The kids would be off to school. God, what a wonderful—

He was thinking of Jessie, already loving Jessie in his mind, when the Jeep careened around the curve. Suddenly the roar of the motor was upon him, louder and louder and louder, enveloping him. His head jerked. For an instant, he looked into the eyes of the driver. Pain was sudden and absolute, overwhelming, unendurable.

Crumpled in the ditch, too hurt to moan, eyes clouding, throat closing, the last thing Bob heard was the dwindling of sound as the Jeep raced away.

Tulips bloomed in red glory in a circular bed in front of the high school. Teresa Caldwell was chair of the moms' committee that had planted the flowers, kept the weeds pulled. She'd been presented a plaque at the recent Mothers-Daughters Banquet: "To Teresa Caldwell, Who Always Puts Her Family First." Teresa bit her lip. Why had she looked at the damn flowers? She didn't want to think, didn't want...

"Mom! Stop. We're here." Lily's voice sullen.

Teresa was accustomed to Lily's exasperated tone when confronted with what she judged to be yet another example of parental stupidity. Teresa had struggled with irritation at being viewed as only marginally competent. But oh, how she wished Lily would say, "Oh, Mom!" and flip her ponytail in mock disgust. Instead Lily, avoiding her mother's quick glance, yanked open the door of the Range Rover and lurched onto the sidewalk, a slightly built girl with frizzy brown hair and uncertain blue eyes, burdened by a backpack big enough to carry provisions for a jaunt to the Himalayas.

Teresa opened her mouth, closed it. Lily wouldn't listen. She wouldn't listen about the weight of the backpack and Teresa could not bear to ask Lily why she was cold and withdrawn.

Without a word of farewell, Lily moved slowly up the sidewalk, tilting to the left from the burden of the pack. Her head was down, her gait plodding.

Teresa stared after her daughter and then, at the sound of an impatient horn, pulled out from the curb. She drove sedately around the curving drive, her lips stretched into a determined smile, nodding, waving. She knew what other mothers saw: a superbly groomed, Lesley Stahl...pretty suburban mother ina bright blue Range Rover with momscar plates. They couldn't see, would never see, must never know about the fever that raged within, the fever that might yet cost her everything. No one knew, of course. But Lily had looked at her oddly in recent weeks. What if someone had told Lily about the Range Rover parked on that dirt road? What if Lily had overheard one of those late-night calls? Oh, God, would Lily tell anyone? Would Lily tell her father?

Teresa drove automatically, slowing as she reached Sand Dollar Road. All right, she'd turn left. Go home. Clean out the garage. Bake brownies, Ralph's favorite dessert. He was getting in tonight on a flight from New York. He'd had a hard week. When they talked last night, after Lily was in bed, she'd heard the weariness, even a touch of fear, in his voice. The corporate world was always uncertain, and never more so than now. He loved brownies, a nice way to welcome him home. The car eased to a stop. Her hands clenched on the wheel. She heard the rumble of an SUV behind her. She checked the mirror. Cherry Sue Richards. She had to make up her mind. Now. This instant.

If she turned right, if she drove a mile and a half, turned onto a rutted gray road that jolted the car, streaked the gleaming blue paint with so much dust that Ralph kidded her, asked whether she'd been plowing the fields, if she drove as fast as she dared up that narrow road to the cabin nestled among a grove of willows, Paul would be waiting. She knew how he would look'thick, curly black hair, dark eyes, sensuous lips. He'd probably not shaved yet, he'd be bare-chested, his old, paper-thin Levi's hung on slim hips. Paul. Damn him.

As the SUV stopped behind her, Teresa gunned the motor, turned to the right, the fever raging within her.

Frank Saulter moved stiffly in the mornings. He welcomed the late-March sun, a cheerful precursor to spring. Only a few more days and it would be April. In summer the heat from the Low Country sun rolled against his skin hot as oil and just as soothing; yet he loved the crisp sunny days of spring. He smiled. He might be stiff, but arthritis never kept a man from fishing. He had his day planned. The lagoon off Belted Kingfisher Road was full of crappie, bass and bream, and he was just the man to land himself a mess of good eating. He took his time as he walked down the crushed-oyster-shell walk to the mailbox by the side of the road. He didn't expect anything much. Too late in the month for bills. Maybe a note from his daughter, but Sue liked e-mail better than writing letters and every week sent a cheerful message catching him up on the kids: Megan off at school in Australia, if that didn't beat the band; and Tom, who'd decided hanggliding off mountains in Montana had a lot more pizzazz than college. Frank shook his head as he pulled open the mailbox. Kids today... He grabbed...

April Fool Dead. Copyright © by Carolyn Hart. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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What People are saying about this

Robert Crais
“I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for Carolyn Hart’s Annie and Max series.”
Diane Mott Davidson
“Carolyn Hart has served up yet another delicious mystery that kept me guessing until the end. YUM!”
Earlene Fowler
“Carolyn Hart’s thoughtful innovative mysteries make her, without a doubt, among the best crime writers living today.”
Mary Daheim
“Carolyn Hart’s craftmanship makes her mystery’s Queen of C’s—cozy, clever, and chock full of charm.”

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April Fool Dead (Death on Demand Series #13) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Max and Annie Darling live on the island of Broward¿s Rock off the coast of South Carolina. Annie is a type A personality who believes in the work ethic while Max is a charming and rich individual whose definition of work is golf, tennis and sex. In the case of this husband and wife team opposites attract and work together well especially when they are involved in a homicide investigation as they have been a dozen times in the past.

Murder is the furthermost thing from Annie¿s mind as she gets ready for a book-signing event at her store Death on Demand. She is doing a lot of promotion for this occasion, but becomes furious when somebody steals her ideas to stir up gossip about old crimes and scandal by distributing a flyer that looks like it came from her bookstore. When a local resident is murdered and the flyers are found at her home, Anne feels like she has an obligation to find out who the killer is (with a little help from Max of course).

April Fool Dead is the quintessential amateur sleuth novel starring two delightful protagonists. Part of their charm resides in the fact that they are happily married and not afraid to show it. The mystery itself is intricate, complex and multi-layered and it¿s only when the audience reaches the end does the reader finally understand how cleverly the sub plots tie back to the main story line. Ms. Hart pens another winner.

Harriet Klausner