Engaged to Die (Death on Demand Series #14)

( 6 )

Overview

When wealthy, widowed art patron Virginia Neville officially announces her engagement to Jake O'Neill — her handsome, charming, and much younger fiancé — at a gala gallery opening, not all the gathered friends and stepfamily are pleased. And before the last champagne bubble pops, murder disrupts the grand celebration. Bookstore owner Annie Darling has a vested interest in the investigation, and she's determined to untangle an unholy marriage of jealousy, blackmail, and malicious mischief, even if it means having ...

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Engaged to Die (Death on Demand Series #14)

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Overview

When wealthy, widowed art patron Virginia Neville officially announces her engagement to Jake O'Neill — her handsome, charming, and much younger fiancé — at a gala gallery opening, not all the gathered friends and stepfamily are pleased. And before the last champagne bubble pops, murder disrupts the grand celebration. Bookstore owner Annie Darling has a vested interest in the investigation, and she's determined to untangle an unholy marriage of jealousy, blackmail, and malicious mischief, even if it means having to cross swords with hubby Max and cross paths with a cruelly clever stalker.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Award-winning author Carolyn Hart opens an exciting new chapter in the story of insatiably curious Annie Darling, owner of the Death on Demand mystery bookstore. Love is in the air on the Low Country island of Broward's Rock: Annie is passionately devoted to her charming husband, Max; her young holiday helper, Chloe, is entranced by the sexy stranger she's been meeting late at night on the pier; and widow Virginia Neville is about to mix business with pleasure by announcing her engagement at the opening of her gallery's exciting new exhibit. But while Virginia is clearly head-over-heels for her talented portraitist, not everyone is ready to wish her well. Her late husband's family, in particular, is in an uproar, believing she'll squander what should have been their inheritance on the handsome young man. And when Virginia's fiancé and Chloe's heartthrob turn out to be one and the same, more than hearts get broken. The charming rogue is bludgeoned to death one fogbound night, and an alarming amount of evidence points to Chloe as the murderer…especially after she flees the scene and evades the police. To make matters worse, Max is aiding the authorities, while Annie is fighting to clear Chloe's name. As fans of the series fans know, it will take more than marital discord, blackmail, and threats to deter Annie Darling's amateur detecting. Sue Stone
Diane Mott Davidson
“Carolyn Hart has served up yet another delicious mystery that kept me guessing until the end. YUM!”
Robert Crais
“I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for Carolyn Hart’s Annie and Max series.”
Mary Daheim
“Carolyn Hart’s craftsmanship makes her mystery’s Queen of Cs - cozy, clever, and chock full of charm.”
Booklist
“Hart creates lively, sympathetic characters and interesting locales and maintains a snappy pace.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“Carolyn Hart’s large following will likely hail this latest Darling caper as - what else? - simply darling.”
Chicago Sun-Times
“Displays the charm and coziness of Christie.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The reigning monarch of the amateur sleuth mystery delivers royally.”
Baltimore Sun
“The Darling duo is as winning as ever.”
Dallas Morning News
“Well-plotted.”
Denver Post
“Tantalizing…Keeps the reader guessing all the way.”
Toronto Globe and Mail
“One of the cleverest puzzle plots around.”
Orlando Sentinel
“Sharp and imaginative writing…[a] thrilling mystery…engaging any time of year.”
Orlando Sentinel on Sugarplum Dead
“A lively tale with well-drawn characters.”
Dallas Morning News
“Well-plotted.”
Orlando Sentinel
“Sharp and imaginative writing…[a] thrilling mystery…engaging any time of year.”
Chicago Sun-Times
“Displays the charm and coziness of Christie.”
Toronto Globe and Mail
“One of the cleverest puzzle plots around.”
Booklist
“Hart creates lively, sympathetic characters and interesting locales and maintains a snappy pace.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The reigning monarch of the amateur sleuth mystery delivers royally.”
Denver Post
“Tantalizing…Keeps the reader guessing all the way.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“Carolyn Hart’s large following will likely hail this latest Darling caper as - what else? - simply darling.”
Baltimore Sun
“The Darling duo is as winning as ever.”
Orlando Sentinel on Sugarplum Dead
“A lively tale with well-drawn characters.”
Publishers Weekly
Hart supplies superior cozy fare in her 14th mystery (after 2002's April Fool Dead) to feature amateur sleuth Annie Darling and her husband, Max. Everyone in the Low Country island of Broward's Rock, S.C., has been looking forward to the gala opening of a new art collection at the Neville Gallery, owned by heiress Virginia Neville, who intends to use the evening not only to dispel the foggy gloom of January on the island but also to announce her engagement to much younger artist Jake O'Neill. However, the party quickly ends when Jake turns up murdered. Max, deputized immediately to help, finds himself at cross-purposes with Annie, owner of the Death on Demand bookstore, who seeks to vindicate her friend who's the prime suspect. A fast-paced plot and a skillfully integrated sub-plot will keep the reader involved and guessing until the very end. Hart expertly handles numerous characters, notably Max's quirky, but lovable mother and Henny, Death on Demand's best customer and mystery expert, who plays a clever mind game with Annie. The interplay between Annie and Max enhances the plot, where in lesser hands it would become the focus. Those who appreciate crime fiction in the Agatha Christie Mousetrap mold will also go for this superb whodunit. (Mar. 8) Forecast: A 14-city author tour, including a "wedding" cake and bubbles at each participating bookstore, will help bring in the crowds for Hart, who already has a high profile as a winner of Agatha, Anthony and Macavity awards and as a founder of Sisters in Crime. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
When Nathaniel Neville died and left his fortune to the nurse who became his second wife, his son and daughter-in-law, daughter and son-in-law, and sister were all a mite upset, even though Virginia did promise to make them her heirs. But now she's fallen in love with young scoundrel Jake O'Neill and plans to announce their engagement at a gala at the family art gallery. Alas, Jake can't be present for the announcement because someone has bashed his head in. One of those greedy relatives might have done it. So might Elaine, whom the caterer's daughter Jake dallied with and discarded. When a shawl matching young Chloe Martin's dress is found beneath the victim, however, Broward's Rock Acting Police Chief Billy Cameron decides she's his prime suspect. Although Chloe, who also enjoyed a romantic liaison with Jake, has taken a powder, she's left two champions behind: Annie Darling, her boss at the Death on Demand bookshop; and Annie's husband Max, temporarily assigned to the case as a police deputy. To find out whodunit, first Annie, then Max, makes timetables of who was where when, and they surmise a witness may have caught Jake's killer in the act. But the witness, opting for blackmail, is quickly dispatched, and the murderer is about to make Annie victim number three when a struggle for a gun ends in her favor. Annie and her best customer Henny (April Fool Dead, 2002, etc.) offer up more titles and authors for mystery readers to sample, although this by-the-numbers offering would hardly qualify for anybody's must-read list. Mystery Guild main selection; author tour. Agent: Deborah Schneider
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060004705
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/27/2004
  • Series: Death on Demand Series , #14
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 490,819
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 11.04 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn Hart

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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First Chapter

Engaged to Die
A Death on Demand Mystery

Chapter One

"We always go to Saint Thomas in January." Irene lifted a thin dark eyebrow. "If it weren't for Virginia, we'd be there now."

Carl stared into her amber eyes, looked quickly away. Those eyes -- they reminded him uncomfortably of a cat watching a bird, remorseless, predatory, unfathomable. He focused on the coffeepot, a fine china one with pink roses twining around the spout. He watched the clear black stream of coffee, strong, hot, nerve-stretching, pour into his cup. Because of his diabetes he permitted himself only a half cup every morning, no cream, no sugar. He wished with a quick bitterness that he could as easily control his appetites in every sphere. Including Irene. But no matter how little she cared -- and sometimes it seemed to him that she made her disdain for him more apparent every day -- he knew he would never leave her, that he would do what she wished, when she wished. What was her fascination? It wasn't her beauty, though her dark hair had the sheen of midnight and her almond-shaped eyes and smooth creamy skin and sultry mouth inflamed him. Right this moment he wanted her with a hunger that was painful. But her attraction was more than beauty and passion. There was an aura of recklessness about her that held infinite allure. Funny, he'd always been such a cautious man ... He took a sip of coffee. The hot liquid burned his tongue.

"Wouldn't we?" It was a taunt. She held out one perfectly manicured hand, glanced at the shining red nails, turning her hand this way and that.

"Irene" -- his tone was harsh -- "I can't swing it this year."

Her gaze lifted from her hand. Cold eyes stared at him. "It's that bad?"

"You know what's been happening. The money's gone." He looked through the shining glass of their private upstairs sitting room at the magnificent sweep of the courtyard. Water bubbled cheerfully in both fountains. Winter-bare rosebushes filled the formal beds in the terrace. When Dad was alive and footing the bill, there'd been a full-time gardener. If no one trimmed and spruced, they'd have a burgeoning wilderness by summer. God, everything cost so much. Now he worried whether he could afford the taxes. He'd been pleased several years ago when his father decided to deed the house to him, on the proviso, of course, that Susan and Rusty would always have their own wing. Now, the huge Italian-style villa was as burdensome as trying to heft an elephant. Maybe Virginia ... He didn't want to ask Virginia. Not if he could help it. The house was his, the only property actually in his name. Everything else, including the gallery, belonged to her. But the taxes ... Beyond the terrace was the point, much of it screened by pines and palmettos. He couldn't see the ruins of the old fort from the window, but he knew that once conquering Union troops had bustled about, stood by their guns, ready to engage the Confederate forces trying to regain the island. So long ago. The island families that had created fortunes from sea cotton lost everything then. Their world changed. But the world was always changing. Battle, pestilence, and sudden death. Good Lord deliver us ....

"You aren't listening to me!" The words were flung toward him, sharp as barbs catching a bull's flank.

Carl felt the beginnings of a headache. He'd had a lot of headaches lately. Who wanted to buy paintings now? If he didn't come up with at least twenty thousand in a couple of weeks, the gallery would have to go into bankruptcy. It would have broken Dad's heart. Would Virginia help? Surely she would. But to Virginia twenty thousand dollars sounded like a fortune. She still had a substantial amount of cash. Dad had believed in cash. If she were fearful -- and so many were fearful now -- would she see it as throwing good money after bad? If she didn't help ... Who would ever have believed that the Neville Gallery could go down? It was a solid business, catering to rich vacationers and to the well-heeled retirees who'd settled on the South Carolina sea island of Broward's Rock to escape harsh northern winters. They still had money, but the days of free spending for luxuries were gone. If only he'd been more cautious when times were good. He'd put all he earned from the gallery into stocks. He'd bought more on margin. Dad always warned against buying on margin.

Only a year ago, he and Irene had been rich enough to do anything, go anywhere. That was over. He'd had to borrow to make good. Money was due now on the notes. If Irene knew just how little money they had ...

"I want to go to Saint Thomas." She tossed down her napkin, pushed back her chair. She rose gracefully, lithe and athletic, stopping at the breakfast room door to flash the enigmatic smile that had held him in thrall since the day they met. "You'll find a way, Carl. I know you will."

"Maybe we should tell Virginia to stick it. Just not show up. The damn gall of her having the damn party at the gallery at the same time as the Mackey opening." Rusty shoved a hand through his hair, now a faded red, nothing like the flaming thatch he'd had when Susan first met him. His charm had attracted her, and the Hollywood boy-next-door appeal of his broad open freckled face. And just like Hollywood, it was all show and no substance. Oh, he was charming still, but now there was often an undercurrent of petulance when they were alone. In public, he was always a pukka sahib, perfectly attired in a navy polo shirt, chinos, cordovan loafers ...

Engaged to Die
A Death on Demand Mystery
. Copyright © by Carolyn Hart. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 14, 2011

    To Die For

    I am always game for a good mystery story. The plot kept the pages turning till the very end. The ending was so unexpected that I had to pause for a moment to think. It was a clever twist. If there is anymore of her book, i would certainly pick it up.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    delightful Death on Demand mystery

    Wealthy Nathaniel Neville shocked his two children and their spouses when he married his nurse and later left her with the estate when he died. His wife Virginia promised the irate foursome that they would be her heirs, but that vow seems shaky now. Virginia apparently has fallen in love with artist Jake O¿Neill. At the opening of her new gallery in Broward's¿Rock, South Carolina, Virginia announces that she and Jake will marry. Already disturbed by their father¿s will, her stepfamily goes berserk thinking the handsome artist will waste what they believe is rightfully theirs. Chloe Martin is also stunned by the announcement because she thought she was exclusively seeing Jake. However, someone decides to take action, killing the charming artist. All evidence indicates that Chloe committed the crime as she flees the scene and her shawl is found near the victim. Chloe¿s boss mystery bookstore Annie Darling tries to prove her assistant is innocent while her spouse Max helps the police with the official investigation. Though the who-done-it is relatively easy to figure out by real amateurs like this reviewer, readers will enjoy the latest Death on Demand mystery. Although obvious, the story line is fun to follow, as the darling lead couple wants the same thing even while working on opposite sides of the inquiry. Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2003

    MISDEEDS MIXED WITH MIRTH

    Oklahoma native Carolyn Hart was the first triple crown winner in the mystery genre - she garnered The Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Awards. 'Engaged To Die' is her 34th book; the 14th in the Death on Demand Series. Quite obviously, she's not one to rest on her laurels or considering her output even to rest. Annie and Max Darling have become reader favorites with their escapades and always entertaining adventures. In their latest engaging mystery we find excitement afoot on the Low Country island of Broward's Rock, South Carolina. (Faithful readers know this site is based on Hilton Head Island). Wealthy art gallery owner Virginia Neville is about to host a soiree introducing a major new collection. Her party is about all islanders can talk about, and everyone has received an invitation. But no one is in on what Virginia considers the biggest surprise of all - she's announcing her engagement to a much younger man. As they say, the path of true love seldom runs smooth - especially when murder comes on the scene. Max Darling is quickly called upon to assist in the investigation, which proves to be an even greater challenge when one of the prime suspects turns out to be Chloe Martin, a college girl who worked at Annie's bookstore over the Christmas holidays. Chloe has an additional agenda of her own - she has fallen in love with a mysterious stranger, and she doesn't even know his name. Leave it to Max and Annie to solve the crime and put their world to rights while providing readers with lots of fun and surprises along the way.

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    Posted October 20, 2009

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    Posted August 4, 2012

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    Posted December 30, 2009

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    Posted November 14, 2011

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