It's "Corpse ahoy!" when death takes a pleasure cruise -- as we set sail once more with that incomparable, crime-solving duo, the Darlings.
Annie Darling, popular proprietress of the Death on Demand bookstore, has done it again! Her murder-mystery cruise in the waters off her not-always-idyllic isle of Broward's Rock is sure to be a roaring success, with every participant dressing up as a favorite fictional sleuth. And sure enough, everything goes swimmingly -- until one of the revelers plunges overboard. And despite hubby Max Darling's courageous rescue attempt, faux murder turns all too quickly into real-life death.
Over the next few days, the body count rises and Annie strongly suspects that all the victims were murdered most foully and that they are all connected in some unknown way. The trick now will be to prove it, with the able assistance of investigator-spouse Max, best friend and best customer Henny Brawley, local bestselling superstar Emma Lloyd, and even (surprise!) Annie's normally ditsy mother-in-law, Laurel.
But what the intrepid crime solvers do not realize is that the killer they seek is more ingeniously efficient than most -- and the puzzle they wish to solve is, in reality, a time bomb packed with an explosive mix of arson, assault, kidnapping, robbery . . . and homicide, of course. One false step and Annie and her canny cohorts will be blown off Broward's Rock for good . . . and they'll sink like stones into the cold, briny deep.
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
Murder Walks the Plank
A Death on Demand Mystery
As the ferry pulled away from the dock, a silver-haired man climbed out of his recently waxed red Mustang convertible and made his way slowly to the railing. He was natty in a blue-and-white striped silk blazer, pink linen shirt, and white sea island cotton slacks. He'd always dressed with a dramatic flair. Most men wouldn't dare. He'd always been willing to dare.
Bob Smith rested his arms on the white railing. Smiling, he looked across green water speckled with whitecaps at a dark smudge in the east, an island basking beneath the early morning sun. The warm moist air was rich with the heady scent of salt water. Gulls squalled overhead. He was aware of an eagerness that he'd not felt in years, an impatience for moments to pass so something wonderful might happen. He wanted to reach the island with an intensity and urgency that delighted him. And to think Meg had lived there for many years and he'd never known until he happened across her picture in that fancy magazine about rich folks' houses. He'd picked up the heavy slick magazine that day at the doctor's office, something to look at while he waited. Maybe he'd known even then that the news would not be good. But when he walked out of the doctor's office, it seemed like an omen that he'd found out he was dying and discovered Meg's whereabouts on the same day. An omen.
The ferry rocked a little beneath his feet. He caught the railing, enjoyed the movement. He had always liked to be on the go. The minute he found out where Meg lived, he made up his mind to see her. He didn't give a damn if it was wise or foolish. Maybe he was past caring. She'd loved him once. All he wanted to do was say good-bye.
No, it was time to be honest, honest the way Meg had always been. He didn't give a damn about saying good-bye. That wasn't what he wanted. He wanted to see her, glory in her loveliness, hear her laughter. He'd never forgotten her.
Had she forgotten him?
Pamela Potts was tempted to call and say she couldn't come. It wasn't that she didn't like Mrs. Heath. Oh yes, of course, Meg. Mrs. Heath insisted that Pamela call her Meg. Pamela didn't feel comfortable using her first name. After all, Mrs. Heath -- Meg -- was famous. Oh well, perhaps not famous, but certainly anyone who read People magazine knew her name, a cover girl model who'd been linked to so many leading men, even those much younger than she. She was still a beauty though she must be near sixty, dark hair with only the faintest hint of silver, huge dark eyes, chiseled features classic as any Grecian sculpture. Even when she rested, thin and pensive, on a chaise longue, her presence dominated the room. When she laughed, well, there was something wicked about her laughter. It made Pamela think ... Pamela felt her cheeks flame. Really, Mrs. Heath -- Meg -- shouldn't tell anyone about some things. And she knew she embarrassed Pamela. Last time she'd thrown back her head, her long black hair swinging, and gurgled with pleasure. Catching her breath, she'd patted Pamela's hand. "Sweetie, you are simply too good. That's why I can tell you everything. Oh, it's been a grand life, Pamela."
A grand life ...
Pamela pushed away the quick thought that no one would ever term her own life grand. She'd stayed home with her invalid mother for many years. She hadn't finished college, so there weren't many jobs open to her. She didn't have the skills demanded in the computerized world. She'd managed to stay afloat because the house -- a little two-bedroom frame -- was paid for and she had inherited several CDs from her mother. She was very careful about money. She had to be because there was barely enough for food and taxes and medical expenses. It was frightening the way interest rates had dropped. There was less and less money and not a dime for extras. But that was all right. She volunteered all over the island and she was active at church, helping out when there was illness or death. She visited Mrs. Heath -- Meg -- on behalf of the church.
Everyone knew they could count on Pamela. So, she'd go to the Heath house this morning. Perhaps she could direct Mrs. Heath's thoughts more to the eternal.
♦Wayne Reed buzzed his secretary. He looked like what he was, a successful lawyer in a maroon and gray office. Despite his boyish good looks, he was turning forty this year. He was proud of his office, the heavy velvet drapes, the Persian rug, the cherry wood desk. "No calls. I'm out of the office." Nice to be protected. If only it were that easy to handle other problems. There was Stuart, who was close to being out of control. Maybe he should let him go live with Lori, but dammit, she'd walked out, left them both. Now she wanted Stuart to come and join her. Well, wanting wasn't getting. Maybe it was time she learned that. At least she wasn't asking for money. Money. He'd made a killing in that property deal. Clever, damn clever. The money he'd made had saved him from bankruptcy, built a fine house. Lori hadn't cared enough about the house -- or him -- to stay.
The phone rang. He glanced at the Caller ID and picked up the line despite his instructions to his secretary. He never ignored a call from Meg Heath. Too bad she was in poor health ...Murder Walks the Plank
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.
What People are Saying About This
“I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for Carolyn Hart’s Annie and Max series.”
“Carolyn Hart has served up yet another delicious mystery that kept me guessing until the end. YUM!”
“Carolyn Hart’s craftsmanship makes her mystery’s Queen of Cs—cozy, clever, and chock full of charm.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15th book in the "Death on Demand" series. Although these stories are what I call "formula" mysteries (same story, different words), somehow they are still very readable. Annie Darling owns a mystery book store called "Death on Demand". The fanatical mystery readers who frequent her store become like old friends -- some you like better than others. Of course, there is always a murder or two and Annie and her husband are involved in the solving. If you're looking for an easy, enjoyable read, you might like this series.
Once again Carolyn Hart has created a mystery that didn't let on whodunit until the last few pages. Two women in the community die within hours of each other, both presumed accidental, but our Annie doesn't think that is the case at all. Then another body, someone unknown to the Island, is found shot to death. Are all connected in some way. Somehow our sleuths think so. Watch how Emma, Annie, Max and Henny figure this out with the proverbial anecdotes from Laurel whose strange advice always ends up on the money.
On a mystery cruise someone is attacked, but who would want to hurt the town saint?