Jean Hughes, the director of The Haven, a place for youth to spend their afternoons and summers in a safe place with lots of fun activities, seeks out Max Darling’s help to keep her job in Laughed ‘Til He Died by Carolyn Hart. Max learns that she was hired when Booth Wagner, the richest member of The Haven’s board, joined the board and decided to annoy a fellow member with an unqualified director by faking Jean’s resume. But now the joke has worn thin, and he wants to get rid of Jean. Won over by the woman’s love for the children and teens of The Haven, Max decides to help Jean by convincing the other members of the board to support her.
But then a teenage boy falls to his death in a wooden platform built to enjoy the view in the woods, a location Click would never have visited, leaving Max with his suspicions, though the police have no evidence of foul play.
Now Max puts all his efforts into getting the board to renew Jean’s contract, and just as he is ready to announce success, Wagner gloatingly declares that Jean has submitted her resignation, a result of coercion by Wagner. Thus when at The Haven’s talent show, the lights unexpectedly go out and a shot rings out, striking Wagner dead instantly, the police chief considers Jean to be his first subject. But Max still supports Jean and fights hard all the way to prove her innocence.
This book is read by Kate Reading, who has read all 20 books thus far in the series, to the point that she really embodies the characters, and I cannot imagine anyone else being able to narrate this series as well as Reading does.
Laughed ‘Til He Died continues the Death on Demand series effectively. Many times by the 20th book, a series loses momentum as the author uses up her or his key ideas. However, Carolyn Hart seems to pick up momentum instead of lose it. She made a shift from cuter material to more serious material in book 17 when Max is framed for murder, and the shift has gone well. I enjoyed this book greatly and give it five stars.
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