Annie Laurance Darling is in the midst of decorating her mystery bookstore, Death on Demand, when a man walks into the store and declares himself to be the father Annie has not seen since she was small in Sugarplum Dead, the 12th book in the Death on Demand series by Carolyn G. Hart. Angry at having been abandoned at such a young age, Annie shuns the man, who turns to Max for help with Annie.
Then word spreads all over Broward’s Rock Island that Laurel, Max’s mother, has finally crossed the line from loopy to mad, as she has been seen at the grave of a former race car driver asking him to get her dead former husband, another race car driver, to get in touch with her. When she mentions turning to a specialist in using crystals to talk to the dead, Annie’s father, known as Pudge to everyone, gets involved; this same charlatan has gotten his hooks into Pudge’s ex-wife’s sister who is desperate to reach her late husband. In the hopes of saving Laurel from this scam artist, Annie reluctantly gets involved with her father and his ex-wife’s family, which includes his 15-year-old step-daughter who turns out to be eager to find a big sister in Annie.
While Annie is still trying to decide her opinion about her newly-found father, she gets a phone call saying that someone in her father’s former family has been murdered and that her father is the chief suspect. Annie and Max step in to investigate, while her new step-sister, Rachel, clings to her.
After my disappointment with White Elephant Dead, the previous book in the series, I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of Sugarplum Dead. I really enjoyed the introduction of Pudge and Rachel and their changing dynamic with Annie and Max. This dynamic suggests interesting developments to come in future books.
My main complaint about previous books in the series is the way that often the books go into lengthy, dry details about the backgrounds that Max and Annie have dug up about the suspects in each case. Sugarplum Dead avoids this pitfall without neglecting the background materials that are necessary to solve the case.
Kate Reading continues to read be the series’ reader. The only, extremely minor, complaint, I have with her reading is her pronunciation of Puerto Vallarta, which she pronounces with L’s, not actually pronounced in the name. I do have a complaint about the Audible recording, however, The second half of the book contains periodic hiccups, with brief seconds missing here and there, which was most annoying.
Sugarplum Dead was an enjoyable book that gave me plenty of delight, I heartily give it five stars!
Sugarplum Dead is available in multiple formats. To order from Amazon, click the link in the title. You may also find it at your local bookstore or library.