With Deadly Valentine, Carolyn G. Hart has created another 5-star book in this sixth of her Death on Demand series. After five months of marriage, Annie and Max are finally able to move into their new house in a privately guarded community for the very wealthy. But as they sit having an intimate breakfast in their secluded backyard on Valentine’s Day, Sydney Cahill, their next door neighbor, appears, wearing a see-through negligee, to invite them to her Valentine’s party that night. Leaving, she pretends to trip and lands in Max’s lap in a distinct come-on to him.
Later that day Annie gets a phone call from Laurel, her mother-in-law, that Laurel has come to visit them, had a minor car accident, and fallen in love with the man who came to her rescue. Max happily uses his mother’s visit as an excuse to evade the party, only to learn from Laurel that Sydney has invited her to the party, and Laurel has been thrilled to accept.
120 people attend this party, where Sydney tries to seduce all the married men, retiring to an alcove to spend a long time kissing one of the ones from their community. In the meantime, Laurel discovers that her new love is Howard Cahill, the husband of the promiscuous Laurel, who married him before he had recovered from the death of his beloved first wife, leaving his adult son incredibly bitter against both of them.
After the party, Annie and Max return home and fall straight asleep, but Annie awakens about 1 am and discovers that Laurel has left the house, so she goes out to look for her mother-in-law, only to arrive at the Cahills’ gazebo and discover the beaten body of Sydney, which clutches a valentine from a secret admirer asking her to meet him at the gazebo at 1 am.
Because the community is bordered by a lake and has only one entrance that is always actively guarded, the murderer must be someone from this community in Browards’ Rock Island, and District Solicitor Posey has decided that the murderer must be Howard, in revenge for his wife’s unfaithfulness. His assumption becomes a definite conclusion when they find the murder weapon, a medieval mace from the Cahills’ house, with Howard’s fingerprints on it, so he arrests Howard.
Laurel immediately springs to Howard’s defense, offering him an alibi that is rejected by Posey, and promptly gets arrested for trying to interfere with a murder investigation. The depiction of Laurel continues to delight. In each book, Laurel holds an obsession that she pursues with the only vigor that this woman who lives in the clouds is capable of. In this book, Laurel talks incessantly about numerous saints and the lessons about life that each saint teaches.
Scattered throughout this book are a number of fun encounters between the Death on Demand cat, Agatha, and the stray kitten, Dorothy L, whom Annie has taken in just as she once did for Agatha. The older cat, in a jealous rage over the new invader, sabotages the store, attacks Dorothy L, and shows deep animosity towards all humans who come to the store, scaring away some of Annie’s customers.
The narrator of this series, Kate Reading, continues to do a fabulous job of narrating, Deadly Valentine being no exception.
On a different note, reviews indicate that the print version of this book, or at least the original print version, contains numerous typos. It is obvious that this is a serious problem when the title of the book is spelled incorrectly! Audible uses the original cover, which says, “Deadly Velentine.” Amazon.com’s cover, though, spells the book correctly, so evidently the editor went back and fixed at least this error. But reviews did indicate that the copies with errors had so many typos, which several point out to be the fault of the editor and not the writer, that it became distracting.
The editing errors aside, this book is one very delightful read that deserves its 5 star rating!
Deadly Valentine (Death on Demand Mysteries, No. 6) is available for order from Amazon.