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YANKEE DOODLE DEAD (A Death on Demand Mystery)
By Carolyn Hart.

Avon Books, 1998

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

When an obnoxious, over-bearing, newcomer to the tranquil island of Broward’s Rock, South Carolina, is murdered in full view of the entire populace at the Fourth of July festival he’d almost ruined, there are suspects galore. In the short time he’d resided on the island he’d managed to infuriate almost everyone in his path, especially the other members of the festival planning committee, all of the library staff, and every female who crossed his path.

Annie Darling, the resourceful and charming proprietor of the Death on Demand mystery bookstore and cafe in Broward’s Rock, and her dashing husband Max, lawyer turned part-time discrete inquiry agent, vow to stay out of the crime-solving business this time, but when a bright young college student, son of a respected black family , is arrested on what seems to be trumped up charges and meager evidence, the Darlings and their cohorts in crime-solving are compelled to act.

Annie is surprised at the mysterious behavior of people she thought she knew well. The town’s biggest gossip is strangely silent. Laurel, Max’s exotic mother-in-law, seems to have some secrets of her own. Before the true murderer is discovered, the Darlings learn far more than they wanted to know about their friends and neighbors. They uncover troubled marriages, top-secret military maneuverings, mothers trying to protect their sons, a gay librarian shielding his lover, and several people who aren’t what they appear to be, before the crime is solved.

Ms. Hart’s characters are, as usual, well-defined, complex, and entertaining. Her frequent references to the books and characters of other mystery writers is interesting and informative.

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