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Dead Days of Summer (Death on Demand Series #17)
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Dead Days of Summer (Death on Demand Series #17)

4.4 10
by Carolyn G. Hart

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Annie Darling, owner of the Death on Demand mystery bookstore, is understandably upset. It isn't like her p.i. husband Max to abruptly disappear—and homicide is definitely not his style. But when his car is found abandoned on a remote road with a brutally slain, once-beautiful young woman nearby and the murder weapon stashed in the trunk, Annie's worst fears


Annie Darling, owner of the Death on Demand mystery bookstore, is understandably upset. It isn't like her p.i. husband Max to abruptly disappear—and homicide is definitely not his style. But when his car is found abandoned on a remote road with a brutally slain, once-beautiful young woman nearby and the murder weapon stashed in the trunk, Annie's worst fears seem justified.

The police have Max all but tried and convicted—except for Chief Billy Cameron, whose unshakable belief in his friend's innocence prompts his removal from the case. And as a media circus descends on tiny Broward's Rock, Annie will have to place her own life in jeopardy to clear her husband's name. But time is running out—and she has only one slim chance to unmask a killer who just may have committed the perfect crime.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hart pulls out all the stops in the fast-paced 17th installment of her acclaimed Death on Demand cozy series (after 2005's Death of the Party), set on the South Carolina island of Broward's Rock. When bookstore owner Annie Darling's PI husband, Max, accepts a new case and fails to come home, she's frantic and calls in all her friends, including the police. The authorities organize an effective search that leads to the body of an attractive woman near Max's abandoned car; in the trunk is the murder weapon. Portrayed by the press as an unfaithful husband and killer, Max is arrested as soon as he surfaces. Annie goes undercover, determined to clear Max's name even if it means putting herself in a cunning murderer's path. Lovable supporting characters, notably Emma Clyde, resident mystery author and Annie's best friend, help make this one of Hart's finest offerings. Hart has won multiple Agatha, Anthony and Macavity awards. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Max Darling is jailed for murder, and his wife Annie (Death of the Party, 2005, etc.) goes undercover to prove his innocence. When her investigator husband fails to come home one night, his wife, Death on Demand bookseller Annie Darling, frantically calls her mystery-loving confidants to help find him. But it's the police who discover Max dirty, disorientated and clearly the prime suspect in the murder of sexy Vanessa Taylor. Max claims Vanessa hired him to find her brother, last seen in a seedy bar. But once they got there, Max was drugged. Now he has no recollection why his car, complete with bloody tire iron, would be found at the murder scene. While Max languishes in jail, Annie, pretending to be sent by Vanessa's sister to pack her belongings, neatly inserts herself into the home of Vanessa's wealthy employers, Lillian and Jon Dodd. She soon learns that Vanessa helped set up Max, unaware that the stratagem was a ploy to get rid of her before she caused trouble for one of three men: seemingly doting husband Jon Dodd; Kyle Curtis, brooding fiance of Lillian's daughter Heather; and next-door neighbor Sam Golden, married to a jealous alcoholic. Annie puts her life on the line to find the cold-hearted killer. The Darlings don't work as a Tommy and Tuppence duo this time, but Annie's fans will enjoy her moxie as she goes it alone.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Death on Demand Series , #17
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.36(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.92(d)

Read an Excerpt

Dead Days of Summer

A Death on Demand Mystery
By Carolyn Hart

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Carolyn Hart
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060724021

Chapter One

The moon broke free from the low -- lying bank of clouds, revealing the white crests of breaking surf. Pinpoints of light sparkled at the water's edge, the bioluminescent glow of tiny zooplankton. Humid summer air lay over land and sea heavy as a funeral pall. Waves boomed and water surged around the pilings of the fishing pier. Footsteps echoed as a shadowy figure walked alone to the end of the pier, reached out to grip the railing. The grasp was tight, unrelenting.

Anger burned, scalding and uncontrolled. The thought came, words vivid as scarlet neon: She had to die.

Resolution provided release. Taut muscles eased. The hands fell away.

She had to die.

Vanessa Taylor surveyed the dimly lit restaurant with satisfaction. Not a woman she saw could match her for beauty. Vanessa felt exultant. Everything she wanted was within her grasp. She looked across the table at her companion. Her richly red lips curved in a cat -- in -- the -- cream smile.

He reached into the pocket of his blazer, pulled out two snapshots, handed them to her. His eyes were intent, though he managed a smile. "Think you can handle it?"

She glanced at the photographs. "Of course. I'llpersuade him. You can count on it. And once it's done, we'll be together. Everything will be wonderful." She lifted her wineglass. "To us."

He raised his glass, dark head bent forward.

Vanessa drank every drop and laughed aloud.

The burst of laughter turned the head of a nearby diner, a tired single -- mom real estate agent out for an evening with a chattering group of friends. She rubbed an aching temple. God, to be young again, to be happy and confident, to be triumphant. Not to be worried about the slowdown in house sales and the ugly whispers that real estate might be the next bubble to burst. Not to be frantic about her son Mike and his thirteen -- year -- old girlfriend who wore her blouses too tight and her shorts too short. Not to be fearful that her mom was making less and less sense. Not to be tired to her bones, yet wake up in the night scared and anxious, sleepless until dawn. Too beaten down for envy, she stared at Vanessa, admiring the raven black hair that curled in soft ringlets, the bold, forceful features, the voluptuous body in the low -- cut crimson dress.

The older woman sighed. If she had a dress like that, it would hang from her thin shoulders, making her look like a bony hag. Her face bleak, she watched as Vanessa dropped two snapshots into a small silver purse. The man with her watched attentively. He wasn't smiling. He looked intense and determined.

The observer wondered what that look meant. Was he crazy about the girl who laughed with such delight? Probably. The single woman's face drooped. Nobody had looked across a table at her for more years than she wanted to remember. She felt a hot rush of tears, dipped her face until her hair swung forward. She was tired, so tired. She wished bitterly that she and the dark -- haired woman in the beautiful red dress could change places. Just for one night.

Heather Whitman ignored the knock on her bedroom door. After a pause, the knock was repeated, soft, inquiring, yet subdued. Heather clutched her pillow with tense fingers. The knock didn't come again. The only sound was the rev of a motor in the drive in front of the house, the throaty purr of Jon's car. She glanced at the bedside clock. Almost noon. Her stepfather always took his own sweet time but he had no need to hurry to his office. Not since he'd married Mother. Of course, Mother always lauded him to the sky, said how lucky the island was to have a man of his caliber, inferring he was so successful. Successful at marrying a really rich woman, that was for sure. Damn Jon. She didn't like him. He was always snide about Kyle. How many times had Jon brought up the flagpole flap? For God's sake, it was years ago, a high school prank. Heather pushed away other moments when Kyle's daring and defiance had landed him in trouble. And now . . . Could she overlook his last wild escapade? Oh damn, damn, damn.

Thoroughly awake, Heather rolled from the bed. She stopped at the vanity, yanked up a brush to pull at her tousled dark hair. She didn't look at her face. She was likely pale as a ghost, with huge smudges beneath her eyes. Whenever she got upset, she looked like a wraith, all gray and silver, insubstantial as a ghost. She flung down the brush, walked to the French window. She pulled it wide, looked out at the familiar sweep of the gardens, brilliant with roses and hibiscus and bougainvillea. The wedding was supposed to be there at the gazebo. I, Heather, take thee Kyle . . .

Was there going to be a wedding?

Lillian Whitman Dodd paused at the top of the steps, looked down the hall toward Heather's room. Perhaps she should go back, knock again. Clearly, Heather was distraught. Lillian was surprised at her sudden feeling of dismay. That was odd. She should be overjoyed if this marriage didn't happen. She'd never tried to hide her regret at the engagement. She'd hoped Heather would outgrow Kyle, but she had never looked at another boy, not from the first moment she met him. Admittedly, Kyle was appealing with an impish charm and good looks, but he was a disaster waiting to happen. Why now did Lillian feel sadness for her daughter? Perhaps because passionate love is rare and when it happens it is worth fighting for. Just as she'd been determined to marry Jon despite Heather's opposition. Lillian had been certain Jon was the right man for her from the moment they'd met. He'd done such a fabulous job on the promotions for the . . .


Excerpted from Dead Days of Summer by Carolyn Hart Copyright © 2006 by Carolyn Hart. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

An accomplished master of mystery, Carolyn Hart is the author of twenty previous Death on Demand novels. Her books have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards. She is also the creator of the Henrie O series, featuring a retired reporter, and the Bailey Ruth series, starring an impetuous, redheaded ghost. One of the founders of Sisters in Crime, Hart lives in Oklahoma City.

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Dead Days of Summer (Death on Demand Series #17) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love a good murder mystery, but could not get into this one. First time reading this author and may not read again. Too much description of every litlle detail. Skimmed through to finish and was not impressive.
springfield40 More than 1 year ago
Death on Demand is a lovely sweet series with a lot of cozy feeling to it. It is a very relaxing fun group of books and this is one of them. Highly enjoyed it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the best of the series that I have read. Ms. Heart is an excellent cozy mystery writer. I have all of her books in my library and have read them all. My favorite was a Henrie O mystery 'Dead Man's Island'.
harstan More than 1 year ago
On Broward¿s Rock, an island off the coast of South Carolina, Max Darling begins a new case, but shockingly fails to return home. His worried spouse, Death on Demand bookstore owner Annie, frantically calls the police. The cops begin a search for the missing sleuth. When they locate his abandoned vehicle, they also find the corpse of a young woman nearby and the murder weapon in the trunk of Max¿s car.----- The media has a field day painting Max as a womanizing cheater who murdered his girlfriend, Vanessa Taylor. Not long afterward the police arrest Max charging him with homicide. Annie knows her spouse is faithful and no killer. She plans to prove both by going undercover with her only advisor being local mystery author Emma Clyde.------ In the award winning Death on Demand series, DEAD DAYS OF SUMMER may be the best novel to date. The story line focuses on the efforts of Annie and friends trying to do the impossible to prove that Max is not a killer or an adulterer although the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of his being both. This fine amateur sleuth cozy with some police procedural elements is filled with heart as a stunned Annie believes to the max in her beloved spouse.---- Harriet Klausner