Annie and Max Darling delve into a 10-year-old murder when Iris comes back to her native Broward’s Rock Island, saying she is there to set things right, only to be strangled herself in Dare to Die , the 19th book in Carolyn G. Hart’s Death on Demand series. Ten years ago, the senior class of Broward’s Rock High School suffered a series of tragedies when first Sam died of a cocaine overdose and then a week later his twin sister died in the sea, officially declared a death but privately suspected as a suicide. Then Iris reappears, having run away from home a week after Jocelyn’s death.
After a decade of living on the streets, a slave to alcohol and drug addictions, Iris had gotten clean with the help of a Catholic mission and reached the 7th of her 12 steps, making amends. Thus she has returned to Broward’s Rock to figure out what was reality vs. drug-induced fog and set things right. She meets Annie, who invites Iris to a party she and Max are throwing, where Iris sees her high school friends and is found strangled in the woods when the party is over. This causes the police to reopen the case of Jocelyn’s death, now suspecting Iris to be the victim of the murderer of her high school friend. Max and Annie for once obey the police chief’s strictures to avoid investigating, but everyone seems to think that Irie told Annie something, leaving the couple in danger.
This book does a good job of creating an interesting plot and keeping the reader guessing all the way. The characters are enjoyable, with several beloved friends returning. Laurel and Hennie take over Annie’s mystery book shop while Annie is busy and institute Tae chi sessions and book clubs, while the gruff, prolific author Emma helps solve the murder by writing another novel!
The audio version is once again narrated by Kate Reading, who embodies the characters so well that I can’t imagine another reader.
This series has grown and matured over the years, and it has remained strong for the most part. Many long-running series lose momentum after a while, as the author starts to run out of original ideas, but the Death on Demand series has maintained its strength. Dare to Die does a great job in particular. I give it five stars.
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