In White Elephant Dead the 11th book in the Death on Demand series by Carolyn G. Hart, Hennie Brawley is found unconscious near the Women’s Club van that contains the dead, bludgeoned body of one of their volunteers who was supposed to pick up items donated for the Women’s Club’s white elephant sale. Not knowing the stellar reputation of Hennie, the new police chief jumps to the conclusion that Hennie committed the murder and hit her head while trying to run away. Case closed.
Thus Annie and Max Darling must get to work to clear Hennie’s name while she lies in the hospital. They quickly discover that the murdered woman was a blackmailer and had changed her route of pick-ups to receive her last payment before fleeing town, so they focus their investigations on the occupants of the four houses the woman visited.
At this point, the book gets rather bogged down. Max does his research on the people using newspapers and the Internet, while Annie gossips with everyone around. Sometimes this section, which is probably half the book, gets confusing trying to keep all these numerous names straight, especially since it covers more than just the people who live in the four houses, also covering the people whose involvement might have led to blackmail.
I found this book less enjoyable than the previous books in this series. Besides the aforementioned confusion, the book did not bring out the quirky characters as much. It was creative to have Hennie be the murder suspect, but we hardly get to see her, and Hennie is my favorite character in the series. Emma plays a significant role in organizing the detection, but this prolific writer of 75 mystery novels spends so much time comparing everything that happens to one of her books that it gets tedious.
The redeeming character is that of Laurel, Annie’s mother-in-law. This somewhat spacey but delightful lady has a new obsession in each book, whether saints or wedding customs or Shakespeare. In this book, Laurel has taken interest in the language of flowers, designing cards to give to people with the flowers that deliver the message she wants to pass on.
Kate Reading continues with the narration of this series in narrating White Elephant Dead. She does an excellent job, despite the weakness of the material she was given to work with.
White Elephant Dead does not deliver the same joy that I found in the previous 10 books in this series. I sincerely hope that the next 14 books improve on this one. I give the narration 5 stars, but the story only 2.
white elephant dead hart is available now in multiple formats. To order from Amazon, click the link in the title. You may also find it in your local bookstore or library.