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Sugar Plum Dead [Hardcover]

Carolyn G. Hart
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 12 2000 Death on Demand Mysteries

Carolyn Hart's Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award-winning mystery series, Death on Demand, has long been a readers' favorite, with its richly evoked Southern atmosphere, ticklish wit, wildly eccentric characters, perplexing puzzles, and the most endearing pair of married sleuths since Nick and Nora Charles. Now the investigative efforts of Annie and Max Darling soar to a breathtaking new level, with a delightfully unexpected whodunit that's as sumptuous as a holiday dessert.

Sugarplum Dead

It's getting to look a lot like Christmas on the sea island of Broward's Rock, South Carolina. At the popular Death on Demand mystery bookstore, owner Annie Darling's energetic Yuletide preparations have to be put on hold thanks to several rather inconvenient distractions--including a slew of family woes ... and murder.

Annie's mother-in-law Laurel -- not normally the straightest of arrows anyway -- has taken to chatting up ghosts in the local graveyard. Across the island in a spacious, spooky mansion, ancient onetime movie star Marguerite Dumaney Ladson has called together all her living kin and their multitude of exes for her gala combination Xmas/birthday bash. Among the honored guests are two that Annie could well do without: her errant father, whom she hasn't seen in twenty five years, and Dr. Emory Swanson, Laurel's guide down "The Golden Path."

Like Laurel, wealthy old Rita Dumaney Ladson has fallen for Swanson's new-age-pseudo-occult gobbledygook. The question is: how are the gathered relatives going to react to the grande dame's announcement that she's leaving her fortune to the charismatic charlatan's Evermore Foundation? Not well, apparently, since a murder follows right on the heels of Rita's shocking revelation. And the finger of suspicion seems to be pointing straight at Annie Darling's recently arrived deadbeat dad.

Annie can feel no loyalty toward the father she's never really known, but she doesn't believe for a minute he's guilty. And when a second murder puts her conflicted emotions into an even more chaotic tailspin, Annie realizes that she will need all the help her easy-going PI. husband Max can offer to solve a related pair of homicides. Because, in this season of giving, fate is giving her more major headaches -- and a killer is giving her more corpses -- than even the normally unflappable Annie Darling may be able to handle.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this 12th Death on Demand adventure, Anthony and Agatha award-winner Hart uses a couple of reliable mystery devices to serve up a story as entertaining as any in this deservedly popular series. The first of these is the perennial fake psychic, here handsome charmer Emory Swanson, who comes to Broward's Rock Island to establish the Evermore Foundation, where individualsDparticularly rich, older womenDcan get in touch with their dearly departed. One of Swanson's unsuspecting devot es is retired movie star Marguerite Dumaney. She's still glamorous, still imperious, and ready to sign over her fortune to the foundation, though her many needy relatives have other ideas for her money. While any of them might be desperate enough to kill Marguerite, it's Happy, her aptly named sister, who is murdered. Annie Darling, proprietor of the Death on Demand Mystery Book Store, enters the picture when her long-absent father, who turns out to be Happy's ex-husband, appears. Annie, ably assisted by husband Max, has to clear her father and stepsister of suspicion, while she simultaneously searches for the real culprit. The evidence surrounding a second murder points to the man they all love to hate: Swanson. Or is he too obvious? Another classic story twist resolves matters in a fully satisfying finale. Hart, who's also the author of the Henrie O series (Death in Paradise, etc.), knits a tidy plot, though the cute descriptions of Max and Annie's cat, Agatha, may be too cloying for some. The insider view of the mystery bookstore world remains a special draw. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The catalytic agent in Hart's latest series addition (White Elephant Dead) is "Pudge" Laurence, the long-lost father of bookstore-owner and village sleuth Annie Laurence Darling. At the behest of a famous actress, Pudge is visiting Broward's Island, SC, where a financially slippery purveyor of crystals and otherworldly contacts creates problems for both families; the actress and Annie's mother-in-law seem enamored of his ways. Annie must tread a fine line, then: she tries to help her mother-in-law while circumventing her unwanted father. An charismatic characterization, the familiar island, and an excellent plot that is nicely knit together make this an essential purchase.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasing Christmas tale July 15 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Sugarplum Dead is one of the best books in the Death on Demand Series. In this edition, Annie Laurence is reunited with her long-lost father, and discovers her step-sister Rachel. Rachel is living with her mother at the home of her aunt, Marguerite Dumaney, a former movie star. Annie's father, Pudge, is visiting for the holidays. When Pudge's ex-wife is found dead, he and Rachel are the chief suspects. A complicating factor is that Marguerite is in the clutches of an unscrupulous man who is stealing her fortune under the guise of enabling her to communicate with her dead husband. Her immediate heirs are all present for the Christmas season, and all of them want to inherit her money. This is a well-crafted and ingenious mystery which has the added charm of acquainting readers with Annie's long-lost family.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good entry in this series Jan. 27 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After having read -- and been annoyed by -- three previous entries in this series, I had sworn I'd never read another Death On Demand mystery. But I was intrigued enough by some of the reviews of this book to give it a whirl. And it is in many ways much, much better than some of the other Carolyn Hart books I've tried.
I have never felt like I was being given a chance to really KNOW the sleuths, Annie and Max. In previous books, the author kept stepping between me and them and insisting on how I should think -- "Annie is like THIS. Max is like THAT." In the end, I was told so much that I should have been shown, that I felt nothing for the sleuths at all. Hart still interferes, insisting on character traits she should be demonstrating, and there is far too much about what Max and Annie look like, as opposed to what they are like. But Annie's concern for a teenage girl comes through pretty well, and I found myself believing it. Likewise, her reluctant feelings for her estranged father eventually became believable when Hart stopped insisting.
I didn't buy the estranged father's excuses for why he'd been gone so long any more than some other reviewers have. If you really, really want to know where your child is, and only one person on earth can help you, you go to that person and make a nuisance of yourself. You don't phone and write a few times and then give up. This element of the plot was thin. Max's behaviour ("You think YOUR dad was bad? Let me tell you about MINE!") is insensitive, and I would have been more convinced if the lovebirds had had a knock-down fight over it, with a suitable reconciliation later. Hart, however, does not seem interested in delving very deeply into this relationship, and to that extent she leaves her sleuths as two pretty, but rather empty, shells.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Something of a disappointment Jan. 25 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really like these characters, Annie, Max, Laurel, Dora, Emma et al, and the sense of place, Browards Rock is great. I don't really read these for the mystery aspect, so I wasn't looking for that, but this started with a really great premise, Annie's long lost father. That story line somehow got lost in the confusion. Not one of Hart's best, but an enjoyable read for a rainy afternoon, with some great coffee and chocolate rasberry brownies.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Dull Jan. 9 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I listened to this (unabridged) on tape, and found my mind wandering a lot. These books are usually a fun read, but this one limped along. If I had read it, I don't think I would have made it through to the end. I thought the premise and characters were cliche and the plot was contrived, and I was very disappointed in the element of Annie's long-lost father. Having had an absentee father of my own, I looked forward to more mystery and conflict from this situation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars SUAGAR PLUM DEAD Jan. 2 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It's Christmas Mystery you can't afford to miss! In this sensational afternoon killer.
Annie's dad make a Christmas arrival that set Annie in a mood more adept to scrooge than Santa and when Laurel her mother-inlaw starts having conversations with ghosts Annie has more than Christmas Christmas Cookies on her already fulll plate she sleuths and relies on her husband Max to help charm them into solving this holiday crime spree.
Curl up with a cup of warm tea, or coco and visit max. Laurel and Annie on Broward's Rock. You won't be sorry. max & Annie are a delighful duo that put Nick and Nora Charles to shame!
However beware of the Mother-inlaw.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Holiday Novel Dec 25 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Though unfamiliar with the author's work, I must admit this is a very enjoyable novel. When a friend suggested it, I thought "Oh, why not?" and am very glad I did. The plot follows Annie Darling, who owns a mystery novel shop (Death on Demand) and her husband Max. When Annie's father finally shows after deserting Annie and her mother so many years ago.. the plot thickens. Annie is thrown in the middle of a (somewhat corny, and only slightly suspenseful) mystery with bland clues and very few plot twists. I was a bit surprised by the ending, but looking back, I really wasn't paying much attention. I was trying to be a "filter" and not a "sponge" and in this case, it was a bad decision.
Well worth reading, but more a work of fiction than a murder mystery novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful Christmas story! Dec 15 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed this latest offering of Carolyn Hart's. I liked the addition of some of Annie's family into the mix and I really didn't think it was too improbable for the most part. It did leave me craving raspberry brownies and on a quest to make them! The book really puts you in the Christmas spirit plus the plot gives a great twist towards the end. I was completely wrong on my guess for the murderer!
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, But Not Great
First off, this book was definitely interesting, and could hold my attention, but it wasn't great.
It took over 160 pages for anyone to get murdered, so you had to read about... Read more
Published on Dec 14 2001 by Erika Sorocco
4.0 out of 5 stars Light Mystery. Not one of her best, but good.
I usually enjoy Carolyn Hart mysteries. They are easy to read and enjoyable. There is not a lot of angst or great horror. Read more
Published on Dec 1 2001 by apoem
3.0 out of 5 stars I know this series is popular, but...
I've picked up Hart's mysteries before and enjoyed them for what they are worth...very light mysteries, with unsubstantial plots and not very 'deeply-drawn' characters. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2001 by K. L Sadler
2.0 out of 5 stars Definetely not her best
Well, this book was a bit of a disappointment. The mystery was good, but Annie was a bit of a wimp.
Let's see. Your father dumps you for over twenty years. Read more
Published on March 24 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars This mystery a tough nut to crack
Christmas takes a backseat to a house full of new and strange relatives. When Ann Darling meets the father that abandoned her and her mother, she refuses to have anything to do... Read more
Published on March 18 2001 by algerina
4.0 out of 5 stars Light, enjoyable mystery
Just when you thought mysteries were becoming dark novels filled with anti-heros comes a book like SUGARPLUM DEAD. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2001 by booksforabuck
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