Summary and book reviews of Engaged to Die by Carolyn Hart

Engaged to Die

By Carolyn Hart

Engaged to Die
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2003,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2004,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

Love is in the air -- but alas, so is murder -- as award-winning author Carolyn Hart returns once again to the South Carolina Low Country island of Broward's Rock and sets her delightful married sleuths, the Darlings, on separate trails to a killer.

Nothing warms the heart like romance -- even as the raw, cold winds of January chill the residents of Broward's Rock to the bone. But it's more than amoré that intrigues mystery bookstore owner Annie Darling and her husband, Max, when wealthy, widowed art patron Virginia Neville announces her engagement to Jake O'Neill, her handsome, charming, and much younger fiancé, at a gala opening at the Neville gallery. Virginia's joyful announcement leaves many of the gathered -- especially certain members of her resentful extended stepfamily -- quite peeved. And one of the guests takes the news harder than the rest: before the last champagne bubble pops, murder disrupts the grand celebration.

Quickly deputized by Acting Police Chief Billy Cameron, troubleshooter Max Darling dives headfirst into the icy investigative waters, leaving wife Annie somewhat out in the cold. But since her young assistant, Chloe, is a prime suspect -- and one of Jake O'Neill's most recent broken hearts -- Annie is determined to untangle the unholy marriage of jealousy, blackmail, gunplay, and malicious mischief ... even if it means crossing swords with hubby Max and placing herself in the perilous path of a cleverly sadistic stalker.

Chapter One

"We always go to Saint Thomas in January." Irene lifted a thin dark eyebrow. "If it weren't for Virginia, we'd be there now."

Carl stared into her amber eyes, looked quickly away. Those eyes -- they reminded him uncomfortably of a cat watching a bird, remorseless, predatory, unfathomable. He focused on the coffeepot, a fine china one with pink roses twining around the spout. He watched the clear black stream of coffee, strong, hot, nerve-stretching, pour into his cup. Because of his diabetes he permitted himself only a half cup every morning, no cream, no sugar. He wished with a quick bitterness that he could as easily control his appetites in every sphere. Including Irene. But no matter how little she cared -- and sometimes it seemed to him that she made her disdain for him more apparent every day -- he knew he would never leave her, that he would do what she wished, when she wished. What was her fascination? It wasn't her beauty, though her dark hair ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

Annie and her best customer Henny (April Fool Dead, 2002, etc.) offer up more titles and authors for mystery readers to sample, although this by-the-numbers offering would hardly qualify for anybody's must-read list.

Publishers Weekly

The interplay between Annie and Max enhances the plot, where in lesser hands it would become the focus. Those who appreciate crime fiction in the Agatha Christie Mousetrap mold will also go for this superb whodunit.

Booklist - Sue O'Brien

Mystery buffs will enjoy identifying the paintings of mystery scenes Hart describes at the beginning of the book and answering the trivia questions that Annie's longtime nemesis, Henny, uses to try to stump her. An enjoyable addition to a long-running series.

Orlando Sentinel

[A] thrilling mystery...engaging reading any time of year.

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