In Honeymoon with Murder, the fourth in the Death on Demand series by Carolyn G. Hart, Annie and Max have just enjoyed a very special wedding, despite the best efforts of Max’s mother, Laurel, to organize everything. They have just retired to Annie’s tree house (yes, her home literally sits atop a tree!) for their wedding night when, before they end their first kiss, the phone rings. It is Ingrid, Annie’s assistant at her mystery bookstore and her matron of honor, and she is frantic. Then the phone gets disconnected. By the time Annie and Max reach Ingrid’s home, their friend has disappeared and the body of Jesse Penrick, the blackmailer of Nightingale Courts, the set of bungalows that Ingrid manages, lies dead in her living room.
With Sheriff Salter out of the country, District Solicitor Posey takes charge of the investigation, and he immediately decides that Ingrid committed the murder and ran from capture. This forces the Broward Island Search and Rescue team, consisting of almost every citizen on the island and led by the ever-intrepid Henny Brawley, to take command of trying to find and save Ingrid, from both whoever is responsible for her disappearance and the then-arrest by Posey as a murderer. Each person in Broward’s Rock seems to find a different method of looking for Ingrid: Henny behaves as a general and directs the searchers who actually listen to her. Max retires to make lots of phone calls doing background checks at Confidential Commissions, his so-called “counseling service,” in which he combines his skills as lawyer and private investigator without using those terms. This is his way of skirting the law, which does not recognize lawyers from New York as lawyers in South Carolina (how dare they expect Max to take the bar in more than one state?) and requires law enforcement experience to get a private investigator license. Laurel sequesters herself with Ophelia, the Nightingale Courts’ resident psychic, at Death on Demand, where they feed the resident black cat, Agatha, canned herring because Ophelia senses that Agatha was once an 18th century housemaid (if you don’t get the connection, I guess you’re stuck because no one else seems to either!) and spend much time holding Agatha on a cushion of pillows before Ophelia concludes that Ingrid must not really like Agatha because Ophelia cannot get a psychic reading from the cat as to Ingrid’s location. And Annie just seems to run around doing “stuff.” She never does get to have that wedding night with Max until the conclusion of this book, as everyone in the search group is expected to sleep on cots, men segregated from the women of course. Never mind that everything, including everyone’s homes, on Broward Rock, is but a few minutes’ drive apart, so it seems silly to waste the time procuring and setting up these cots. I personally suspect that Henny has just been itching for an occasion to use them since she procured them, possibly as World War II surplus.
As a drawback, this book contains too many suspects, let alone significant characters, to keep all of them straight very easily. This becomes especially true if you are listening to the book rather than reading it for yourself. Yet with this series, several books of which have even more confusing characters, you can just keep listening, and things generally straighten themselves out enough to follow the key points, even if you can’t recall all the specific details.
The audio version is once again read by unmatched Kate Reading. She continues to do a terrific job with the many voices of Henny Brawley (for further explanation of this, check out the section on the reading in my review of Something Wicked) and remains expressive throughout.
Because this book does get confusing with its characters, I can’t give it 5 stars as in the previous book, but the problems are not significant enough to prevent its getting a 4 star review, which the book clearly deserves for all its fun traits in this further adventure of Max and the newly-named Annie Lawrence Darling.
Honeymoon with Murder (Death on Demand Mysteries, No. 4) is available through Amazon.