Carolyn Hart

Annie Darling - Death on Demand Bookstore Owner and amateur sleuth,
Broward's Rock, South Carolina

"Engaged to Die"

(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer MAR 16, 2003)

"They were almost to the gallery when a siren wailed. The sound rose, increased, filled the night. Abruptly, the shrill noise cut off. Whirling red lights flickered from the service area behind the pines.

Annie stared at the irregular pattern made by the lights. Okay, there'd been a siren. Sirens were designed to capture attention. They didn't always signal disaster. Maybe it was too many shocks in one day, but Annie felt a sharp flicker of fear. She started to run."

Engaged to Die at

The murder, and one always expects a murder, does not happen for a while. When the book begins, we are introduced to Virginia Neville and her family who are less than thrilled that she, a recently widowed stepmother, is getting remarried to a much younger man. As part of Virginia's late husband's will, she has to take care of his two children and their spouses, a promise she willingly lives up to. She intends to announce her plans for future happiness at a soiree at the art gallery that was part of her inheritance.

Meanwhile, Annie Darling is trying to talk some sense into her assistant, Chloe Martin. Annie is a bookstore owner, and Chloe works for her during college breaks. As effervescent as champagne, Chloe has given her heart to a nameless and mysterious stranger. Annie is worried about her friend's heart being crushed, especially when she finds out that the same mysterious stranger is promised to wed Virginia. Matters only turn worse when the man, Jake O'Neill , is discovered murdered, Chloe fleeing the scene only moments before the body is discovered.

Annie knows that Chloe didn't do it, but unfortunately the police are not so sure, especially when Chloe doesn't show up for a meeting that Annie sets up between her and the police. Max, Annie's beloved husband, also believes that Chloe didn't do it, but he is helping on the case. While he is determined to follow the evidence and let police procedure sort things out, Annie is determined to prove her friend's innocence first. Their different approaches causes a bit tension between the usually devoted couple.

I really like Annie. She's the perfect cozy mystery heroine, smart, comfortable, well married to a lovely man. The name of the bookstore, and indeed, the series of books, Death on Demand, gave me a real kick. The bookstore specializes in mysteries, so what better occupation for our heroine? Cleo, on the other hand, drove me mad. She's a sweet kid, but, to simplify things, she practically goes out of her way to make herself look like a guilt-smitten murderess. I am afraid that, unlike Annie, whose picture is right next to the word patience in the dictionary, I would have given up on the silly girl quite a few chapters before the end.

The idea of holding a contest with paintings of scenes from well known mysteries, where the patrons have to guess which books are represented, is a really nifty one, and I had fun trying to recognize the scenes. I got only three out of five...I must be slipping.

This book exemplifies its genre. Engaging, well written stories, and well rounded, neighborly feeling people, make this book just the thing to read curled up by the fire or relaxing in your favorite beach chair.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 11 reviews

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Bibliography: (with links to

Death on Demand Series:

Henry O Series:

Bailey Ruth Series:

Stand Alone Novels:

Children & Young Adult:

  • The Secret of the Cellars (1964)
  • Dangerous Summer (1968)
  • No Easy Answers (1970)
  • Rendezvous in Veracruz (1970)
  • Danger! High Explosives (1972)

Anthologies & Collections:


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Book Marks:


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About the Author:

Carolyn HartCarolyn Hart, born in 1936 iis a native of Oklahoma City. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in Journalism in 1958 and worked as a reporter on the Norman Transcript for a year and then as public relations for the University of Oklahoma for another year. She married Philip Hart just after college and quit working to raise their two children. She wrote her first book, a childen's mystery, in 1964 and has made a career of writing books since then. She also spent three years on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma journalism school (1982-1985).

Carolyn and Phil still reside in Oklahoma City. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014