Sugar Plum Dead Hardcover – Nov 2000
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
It took over 160 pages for anyone to get murdered, so you had to read about relationships and romance. Relationships between the main-character (Annie Darling) and her estranged father, Annie and her estranged step-sister, etc. Once someone does get killed it becomes somewhat boring. I knew who the killer was from the beginning. Also, the whole mystery is somewhat cliched. I do think the author is a good writer, and has potential to succeed, just not with this book.
As for the plot, Annie Darling runs Death On Demand, a mystery bookstore. Annie's father (Pudge) and step-sister (Rachel) find her and soon Annie is swept into a spooky mansion filled with murder, hatred and deceit. Once Happy (Rachel's mother) gets murdered, Annie is determined to get her father off the hook, and solve the case.
Overall, this wasn't a horrible book, but if you're looking for a great holiday mystery try some by Valerie Wolzien.
First the positive: I like the mystery itself. I thought the ending was different than many authors would have used. I liked that. The characters are continuations of ones in her previous books and yet this book can stand on it's own. As always her mother in law is funny and offers a sence of the ridiculous for a reason. I appreciate that. I also appreciated that Annie did forgive her dad to a degree and try to get to know him now. At some point we all have to make that decision to move on or to dwell on the past. I think this was handled well. It wasn't the main story and therefore not a lot of time was devoted to this theme, which I think might dissapoint some readers.
The negative: The only unrealistic thing about this book was all of a sudden seeing your dad and finding out you had a step sister on this small island where everyone knows everyone. If the island had been bigger it might have worked. However, it just seems inconceivable to me that not once would Annie have seen this girl or known the connection she had to this girl. However, as I stated, this is not the main part of the story and is easily overlooked.
I enjoyed this book. It was not my most favorite Carolyn Hart book, but it was good. I'm not sorry I read it.
Hart means well, and I know she has a big following. But as another reviewer has mentioned, Hart really expects the reader to swallow a very poorly written and poorly plotted reason for the female protagonist's father for being missing in her life, and then gives an improbable reason for him showing up again, along with a step-sister she didn't know existed? Not only that but she had this sister apparently living on the island too? And when she sees the girl, she recognizes familial facial features?
This island is a place where most people know each other except during tourist season, yet there seems to be a young doppelganger on the island with features similar to Annie's?
Sorry, doesn't make sense to me...
I had no problems figuring out who the probable suspect was, since there were too many obvious suspects, and I took a violent dislike to the character immediately. A mystery is a good one for me that retains a little of the 'mystery' until the very end! Once again, I felt that this was a case of an author getting too familiar with her characters, too comfortable with her audience, and she just rattled off the book as fast as possible.
I am sure my review won't discourage those who are enamored of this type of light reading. Not enough literary skill or 'meat' for my taste.
University of Pittsburgh
Most recent customer reviews
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. Read morePublished on July 15 2002 by Karen Potts
I really like these characters, Annie, Max, Laurel, Dora, Emma et al, and the sense of place, Browards Rock is great. Read morePublished on Jan. 25 2002
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. Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2002
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... Read more
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. Read morePublished on Dec 25 2001
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... Read morePublished on Dec 14 2001 by Coppertop
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
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 morePublished on March 18 2001 by algerina