Don’t Go Home
A Death on Demand Mystery #25
By Carolyn Hart
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Annie Darling, owner of the Death on Demand mystery bookstore, is hosting a party to celebrate successful Southern literary icon—and former Broward’s Rock resident—Alex Griffith and his bestselling new novel, Don’t Go Home. But after the local paper announces that Griffith aims to reveal the real-life inspirations behind his characters, perhaps the author should take his own advice. Not everyone in town is ready to give him a glowing review.
As Annie attempts damage control, her friend Marian Kenyon gets in a heated argument with Griffith. It’s a fight Annie won’t soon forget—especially after the author turns up dead.
Despite an array of suspects to match Griffith’s cast of characters—and a promise to her husband, Max, to steer clear of sleuthing—Annie’s not about to let the police throw the book at her friend when the real killer remains at large… (Goodreads)
Before Don’t Go Home hit the store shelves, author Carolyn Hart announced that this, the twenty-fifth book in the Death on Demand series, would be Annie and Max Darling’s last adventure. Thus, as a long time fan, I approached this book with a little reverence, almost wishing I could put off reading so that the exploits would not end. However, Ms. Hart has since proclaimed that Annie and Max will not go quietly into the night; they have more stories to tell. This news has made many readers, including me, quite happy, and so I dove right in reading with gusto.
Annie Darling owns a mystery bookstore in Brower’s Rock, South Carolina. She is a trusting, optimistic, and inquisitive soul who lives to work. Her husband Max, on the other hand, is more interested in relishing the moment, and though he enjoys his work at Confidential Commissions as an investigative solver of problems, he would just as soon be on the golf course or spending a little quality time with Annie. They are each other’s yin and yang, and they complement each other well. As this story opens, Max has decided that Annie has had too many dangerously close calls during her past investigations and insists she promise not to play amateur sleuth again. He has also shuttered his business thinking that the research he does to help people only fuels Annie’s detective fire. While he contemplates Confidential Commissions’ fate, he joins some friends on an off island fishing trip leaving Annie on her own.
Feeling a bit out of sorts at her change in circumstances, she jumps at the opportunity to host a party/book signing for local author Alex Griffith on his extremely rare visit back to his island home. His book has secured him a place among the elite Southern writers of all time, but his wife Rae is worried he will turn out to be a “one hit wonder”. Alex plans to return home and reveal the real people who inspired his characters, which is sure to cause an uproar and hopefully provide fodder for future books. When Annie realizes his intentions, she tries to cut Death on Demand’s sponsorship and ties. She needed not bother because Alex is found murdered before the event takes place. Since her bookstore and name are associated with the party and subsequent death, she feels compelled to investigate but is haunted by her promise to Max. She is even further drawn in because she heard her friend Marian arguing with Alex shortly before his death, and she wants to keep Marian off of the suspect list. In addition to Marian, Alex’s brother, sister, sister-in-law, and high school friend all have secrets that they would do anything to keep from exposure. Rae has her own secret relationship she needs to keep under wraps. One of them felt the need to keep Alex silent forever.
Since I have read most of the books in the series, Don’t Go Home feels indeed like going home to visit family and friends. Max is absent for most of the book, and I dearly missed him. This outing felt more personal since Marian is Annie’s close friend. Annie’s angst over keeping her promise to Max added a layer of tension to the story. Even though everyone’s secrets were somewhat mundane, and this led to their characters coming across a bit stereotypical, they still provided a juicy backdrop. For a good part of the book, I thought any of them could have committed the crime.
Ms. Hart has created a long running series that captures the heart. Her heroes are genuinely good people, her villains realistically evil. I always enjoy my visits to her well crafted Southern island locale and wish I could sit down with Max and Annie at Perotti’s Bar and Grill for fried oyster sandwiches. I think it would be quite an enjoyable meal with good company. I am so pleased that the Darlings’ adventures will continue. I look forward to many more mysterious romps.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for providing a copy for review*