Far from Annie Darling's Death on Demand Bookstore, Carolyn Hart's latest mystery invades the quiet of a remote island. Darling's husband, Max, a private investigator, is hired to uncover background tidbits about hostess Brit Barlow's guests.
She's chosen them carefully, with one common thread. Each one was present the weekend when her sister's husband, Jeremiah Addison, had fallen down the staircase to his death. When Cissy Addison died, Britt inherited the island resort.
Golden Silk offers quiet, good food, generous hospitality and an ambiance of eerie calm. Accessible only by ferry from the mainland, guests receive benefit of creature comfort without the distractions of modern communication, save for radio in emergencies. One by one, they disembark on the island, unaware that each must help solve a year-old murder. Confidential Commissions, Max's business, must compile resume sheets for all.
Hart's descriptive phrases well personify all the guests. But she leaves the reader fuzzy when it comes to Annie's true colors. Annie comes off as curious, beyond the norm. But her nature may well inhibit the forward progress of her husband's investigation. She's anxious to solve the mystery and plunges full throttle ahead, especially when one of the guests, Everett Crenshaw, comes up dead. A journalist, Crenshaw had dredged enough mud on all the guests assembled to bury each in murderous motivation.
The disappearance of the resort's handyman, along with the motorboat --- the sole mode of transportation to the mainland --- provides suspense. Fear is evident when all assembled realize that, despite personal guilt or innocence, they've been denied a means of escape. Harry Lyle is not forthcoming about his sketchy background when Max meets up with him earlier at the water's edge. The hired man has an attic full of secrets to hide from the curious, making him an automatic target for the investigators.
Evidence builds when the Darlings work to piece the accusations together in a solution to the two crimes. Both sons of the murdered Addison had reason to commit the homicide, as well as their wives, a celebrity political figure and her husband, the maid, the handyman, and the hostess. Much conversation, a small bit of action, much conjecture, and numerous innuendoes are the tools of the author. DEATH OF THE PARTY is a quick weekend read that is entertaining, although predictable.
The plot pattern works well for Hart. She has produced a stable of Death on Demand mysteries, keeping her faithful followers well-supplied with Annie Darling's adventures. Annie finds herself in precarious circumstances once again but manages to teeter at the brink of extinction until the reader breathes easy when she escapes.
--- Reviewed by Judy Gigstad