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by Carolyn Hart
William Morrow, April 2005
304 pages
ISBN: 0060004762

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Annie Darling is feeling a little lonely this winter in South Carolina. The majority of her close friends are off on vacations so she is looking for a little excitement. Luckily, her husband, Max, has accepted an unusual case. Britt Barlow wants to hire Max to find out who killed her brother-in-law Jeremiah Addison.

Addison died a year before and his death was ruled an accident. Barlow now admits that she had found a wire running across the top of the marble stairs -- he was found one morning face down at the bottom of said stairs. She covered up the crime to protect her sister Cissy, who was dying of cancer, from a police investigation. Now that Cissy has died, Britt wants to find the truth.

At least that is what she tells Max. Britt has invited everyone who was at Golden Silk at the time of the murder to return for a weekend memorial to Addison. Golden Silk is the private island that Addison had purchased and Britt inherited. This island is isolated from the mainland and the only connection is by boat and radio.

Max does not think this showdown is a good idea but cannot allow Britt to risk her life without help. He and Annie join the party in hopes of finding the killer before the boat returns. Unfortunately, the killer will not allow them to win. Within hours of their arrival, the handyman has vanished with the radio and the only boat on the island. Then one of the party members is murdered. Max and Annie must move quickly before they too are murdered.

The works of Agatha Christie influence Carolyn Hart's books that feature Annie and Max Darling. Hart uses some of the some methods of detection first popularized by Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. DEATH OF THE PARTY is an obvious tribute to Christie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. While only one victim is killed in DEATH OF THE PARTY, I kept waiting for another person to be killed.

I always look forward to reading a book in this series, as these books are enjoyable brain candy. With this latest installment, my opinion is starting to change. The frequent summaries of the suspects' histories and recaps of evidence are frustrating. This is a useful method of making sure that the reader is following the story; however, after using this plot device in 16 books, I cannot help but wish for creativity and change. The continual use of lists and charts is also old and dated.

If Hart would change the plot devices and detection methods in her next book, it would help rescue this series from becoming formulaic and boring. It is always a risk to change a successful writing style, but this is a risk Hart should take. If not, she will likely lose readers looking for something new and refreshing.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, May 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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