The Barnes & Noble Review
If anyone wonders why Carolyn Hart has chalked up an unprecedented eight Agatha Award nominations, the answer is obvious in Resort to Murder: A Henrie O Mystery. This time out, Hart has chosen an exotic setting as the backdrop for her mystery, contrasting the hell of murder with the heavenly delights of a luxurious vacation resort. The puzzles are plentiful, and despite being weakened by a recent bout of pneumonia, 70-something Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins is as delightful and determined as ever.
While visiting the island paradise of Bermuda, where her onetime son-in-law, Lloyd Drake, is about to marry a beautiful and wealthy widow named Connor Bailey, Henrie quickly discovers that no one seems too pleased about the pending nuptials. That alone creates plenty of tension, but it doesn't take long for murder and mayhem to show up for the festivities, setting everyone's nerves keenly on edge. The first sign of trouble comes when all of the guests -- including Henrie -- witness a ghostly visage hovering about the top of a tower from which the hotel owner's husband plunged to his death a year before. Tied to that death is Lloyd's bride-to-be, Connor, whose beauty and vulnerability seem to attract men by the droves. The man who died was one such admirer, and it's rumored that he jumped to his death after Connor failed to return his affections. Consequently, Connor is quite freaked by the ghostly appearance, putting a definite damper on the wedding festivities.
It doesn't take the down-to-earth Henrie long to fathom the mystery of the ghostly apparition, but the hotel employee who knows the truth turns up dead before he can provide the proof of who's responsible. The death appears to be accidental, but Henrie has information that suggests otherwise. Yet every time she tries to investigate the case, all she manages to do is heighten her own prospects as a possible suspect in the eyes of the local police. And the killer isn't done yet.
Hart's intricate plotting and skillful characterization are showcased to perfection in this work. And it's hard to find a more pleasing sleuth than the ever-energetic and spry Henrie, who can't even enjoy a restful vacation without getting caught up in a deadly game of murder. (Beth Amos)
Beth Amos is the author of several novels, including Second Sight, Eyes of Night, and Cold White Fury.
Carolyn Hart embodies the spirit of Agatha Christie more than any other contemporary writer.
Los Angeles Times
If I were teaching a course on how to write a mystery, I would make Carolyn Hart required reading.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this highly entertaining puzzle (after 1999's Death on the River Walk), 70-ish sleuth Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins (aka Henrie O) is in a somber, reflective mode, as befits her age and her life experiences. Recovering from pneumonia, Henrie O isn't sure she feels up to the task of dealing with the emotional maelstrom stewing around the Bermuda wedding of her son-in-law, Lloyd Drake, and beautiful Connor Bailey, a wealthy widow. A granddaughter, unhappy about her father's marriage, is bent on making mischief, while the bride-to-be can't seem to stop herself from attracting the attentions of any male within eyeshot. Lloyd doesn't cope well with his fianc e's penchant for flirtation, and Connor's lawyer, Steve Jennings, appears to have more than Connor's financial interests at heart. The hotel where the party has gathered witnessed tragedy the year before, when Roddy Worrell, the manager's husband, plunged to his death from a tower. According to rumor, Roddy had been infatuated with Connor, who spurned his advances. When a ghost is sighted at the tower, word spreads that Roddy has come back to haunt Connor. The subsequent death of a hotel employee who knew more than he should about the apparition puts Henrie O on the murder scent once again. This series has a deeper and darker emotional texture than Hart's more lively and lighthearted Death on Demand series, but her fans will enjoy the complex plot, local color and vivid characters. (Apr. 25) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Is Henrie O going crazy? In Bermuda for her father's wedding, she thinks she sees a ghost. But then real bodies start turning up. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"Wonderful summer reading."
“If you're looking for a getaway and can't make it to Bermuda, this tale's your ticket.”
Read an Excerpt
The honeycomb-weathered limestone, prickly as tiny needles, poked into my hands. I edged my sneakered feet on the narrow trail and pressed against the outward-bowing boulder. A wave crashed on the rock pinnacles beneath me, the water swishing with a thousand eager fingers into the crannies of the cliff, relentlessly sculpting the ancient fissures.
The grainy rock, the thunderous crash of the waves, the fine mist beading my face and hands, the scent of seaweed and salt water enveloped me, creating an embryonic world confined to this place, this moment, these sensations. Slowly, carefully, knowing a false step could tumble me onto the rock pinnacles below, I moved ahead, easing around the bulge.
I felt a moment of triumph when I saw a widening shelf, a three-foot indentation invisible from the rocky headland above, cupped on either side by jutting boulders. Trails lead somewhere. I'd followed the faint ridge in the rock and my gamble had paid off.
Breathing hard, I dropped shakily to the mist-slick ledge, drew my knees up under my chin and looked out at the dark surging ocean. I watched as the pink tendrils of sunrise turned the water from the blackness of night to vivid color. I don't know how long I sat, long enough for the sky to move from a milky opalescence, streaked with red and gold, to a pale cloudless blue. I looked south at the distant horizon and knew there was nothing beyond that meeting of sky and sea but hundreds of miles of water. Ships were out there, of course, and birds and ocean flotsam, but at this moment nothing moved on that endless horizon and I had this spectacular marine world to myself.
My lips quirked ina wry smile. That was always the problem, wasn't it? Wherever you go, the old saying points out, there you are. Here I was, recuperating from pneumonia, a guest at Tower Ridge House, one of Bermuda's lovelier small hotels, and yet I was not at peace. Instead, I was trying to empty my mind of fleeting images jostling and tumbling as unpleasantly as modern television's witless flip-flip-flip of pictures. I'd pushed those images away, submerged them in the moment of struggle on the rock face, savoring the challenge, glorying in the feel of sun and mist on my skin and the sensation one I'd not had in many years of sheer adventure.
I cocked my head, watched a flock of terns diving for fish. I'd had an instant of fun, the kind of fun you know when you are ten and the limbs of a tree beckon you high above a garden or the roller-coaster crests the rise and plunges down the slope. But I wasn't ten. I was seventy-odd and, truth to tell, had no damn business clinging to slick rock with waves crashing beneath me. Besides, now that I was alone in my retreat, the images could not be denied:
Diana slumped in the window seat, staring determinedly out of the airplane at the expanse of ocean, her young jaw set, a tear trickling down her cheek. She had her mother's delicate, almost sharp, features, her father's fair complexion and reddish-gold hair. Lovely Diana, my cherished granddaughter, facing a future she could not alter and was unwilling to accept.
Dark-haired Neal astride the bright red scooter, remembering to stay left on the steep hill, shouting, "Hey, Grandma, hold tight," his voice exuberant, but his sideways glance at his sister somber and concerned. Chunky, blunt-faced, direct, uncompromising, my adored grandson. Neal, though, was always pragmatic. What would be, would be.
And the others:
Lloyd Drake, my former son-in-law, raising his champagne glass, earnest face flushed: "To Connor, the loveliest woman I know." Lloyd had looked across the dinner table last night with doglike devotion, uncritical, impervious to the waves of dismay and hostility and anger rising from the other guests, his attention focused solely upon Connor. Lloyd was enjoying late-come love with the enthusiasm of a basketball fan at the Final Four, pumped up, eager and oblivious to criticism.
Connor Bailey fingering the quite perfect pearl choker at her slender throat, her coral nails bright as the bougainvillea spilling over the yellow stucco walls of the hotel. Connor was almost beautiful sleek black hair cupping a Dresden-china face, flashing eyes shiny as amethyst, a lithe yet voluptuous body. What kept her from true beauty? The restless movement of her hands? The glance that demanded too much, gave too little? The unceasing hunger for admiration in her bright, beseeching eyes?
Marlow Bailey pushing up too-heavy, unfeminine tortoiseshell glasses, her dark brows drawn in a worried frown. She was near in age to Diana, but they might have sprung from different planets Diana graceful and vibrant, Marlow subdued and understated. Odd to see them in such agreement, both opposed to the wedding scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
Aaron Reed smiling ruefully at his future mother-in-law Connor and future stepfather-in-law Lloyd. Last night Aaron had looked perplexed and sad when Marlow stormed from the bar, angry because Lloyd had dismissed Marlow's suggestion that they plan a ski trip in March to the Bailey family's lodge in Vail. "Not this year," Connor said firmly. "Lloyd wants to go to Barcelona." Aaron tried to patch over the moment. "Things sort themselves out." His voice was husky, pleasant and vacuous, but his eyes were sharp and thoughtful.
Jasmine Bailey, perhaps the most cheerful member of the Bailey family, staring adoringly at Lloyd, her ten-year-old face wreathed in a sunrise smile when she and Lloyd tossed a beach ball back and forth. "Lloyd, I'll bet I can catch it a hundred times," and Lloyd's good-humored laughter...
Resort to Murder. Copyright © by Carolyn Hart. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.