By the 25th Death on Demand mystery, fans know what to expect. It's a traditional mystery set in Broward's Rock, South Carolina, and, if everything is perfect, there will be the comfort of all those mysteries in Annie Darling's bookstore. There will be lists of authors and books to discover, and that wonderful monthly picture competition. For me, I can give no better compliment to a traditional mystery than it's satisfying. That means the characters are familiar, and good triumphs in the end. But, Carolyn Hart still has surprises, and none of the characters should get too comfortable with her latest book, Don't Go Home.
In fact, she starts off with a surprise. Max has closed down Confidential Commissions, and he's out of town fishing. He made Annie promise she'd do no more detecting. Her last adventure scared him too much. But, Annie can never turn away when a friend is in trouble.
Annie made a short trip to Savannah, so she missed the news that bestselling author Alex Griffith had returned to his boyhood home in Broward's Rock. He's planning to reveal the real names of the people behind his scandalous novel. There are a number of people who don't want the truth to be revealed. They see Alex Griffith as he really is, "A man who led a charmed life, sucking like a vampire on everyone around him". And, one of those people is determined their secret will not be revealed.
One of those people is Annie's friend, Marian Kenyon. And, Annie knows about the violent fight she had with Griffith before he turned up dead the night he planned to make his announcement. And, despite her promise to Max, Annie can't turn her back and let her friend face public humiliation, and, maybe worse.
As in so many mysteries set in small communities, the answers lie in the past, in the history that was covered up. When another island resident hints at secrets, he endangers himself. Annie may have not gone so far as to call people to meet her in the middle of the night, but her hints to residents amounts to the same thing. Once again, Carolyn Hart plunges Annie Darling into danger, although Annie mentally talks to Max, who can't be reached, telling him she didn't do anything stupid. That mental conversation is one of the few amusing points in a serious book, as Annie realizes she did put herself in danger, and Max would call her on it. Maybe it's Max who shouldn't go home.
As I said, Carolyn Hart always surprises readers. This time, Annie's on her own with Max and the "Intrepid Trio" on vacations. But, the people she loves still find ways to guide Annie's steps as she searches for answers in the satisfying mystery, Don't Go Home.
Carolyn Hart's website is www.carolynhart.com
Don't Go Home by Carolyn Hart. Berkley Prime Crime, 2015. ISBN 9780425276549 (hardcover), 263p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.