Cover image for Sugarplum dead : a death on demand mystery
Sugarplum dead : a death on demand mystery
Hart, Carolyn G.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, [2000]

Physical Description:
340 pages ; 25 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
Clarence Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Collins Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Eggertsville-Snyder Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Grand Island Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Hamburg Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Lake Shore Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Lancaster Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Orchard Park Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Audubon Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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Carolyn Hart's Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award-winning mystery series, Death on Demand, has long been a readers' favorite, with its richly evoked Southern atmosphere, ticklish wit, wildly eccentric characters, perplexing puzzles, and the most endearing pair of married sleuths since Nick and Nora Charles. Now the investigative efforts of Annie and Max Darling soar to a breathtaking new level, with a delightfully unexpected whodunit that's as sumptuous as a holiday dessert.

Sugarplum Dead

It's getting to look a lot like Christmas on the sea island of Broward's Rock, South Carolina. At the popular Death on Demand mystery bookstore, owner Annie Darling's energetic Yuletide preparations have to be put on hold thanks to several rather inconvenient distractions--including a slew of family woes ... and murder.

Annie's mother-in-law Laurel -- not normally the straightest of arrows anyway -- has taken to chatting up ghosts in the local graveyard. Across the island in a spacious, spooky mansion, ancient onetime movie star Marguerite Dumaney Ladson has called together all her living kin and their multitude of exes for her gala combination Xmas/birthday bash. Among the honored guests are two that Annie could well do without: her errant father, whom she hasn't seen in twenty five years, and Dr. Emory Swanson, Laurel's guide down "The Golden Path."

Like Laurel, wealthy old Rita Dumaney Ladson has fallen for Swanson's new-age-pseudo-occult gobbledygook. The question is: how are the gathered relatives going to react to the grande dame's announcement that she's leaving her fortune to the charismatic charlatan's Evermore Foundation? Not well, apparently, since a murder follows right on the heels of Rita's shocking revelation. And the finger of suspicion seems to be pointing straight at Annie Darling's recently arrived deadbeat dad.

Annie can feel no loyalty toward the father she's never really known, but she doesn't believe for a minute he's guilty. And when a second murder puts her conflicted emotions into an even more chaotic tailspin, Annie realizes that she will need all the help her easy-going PI. husband Max can offer to solve a related pair of homicides. Because, in this season of giving, fate is giving her more major headaches -- and a killer is giving her more corpses -- than even the normally unflappable Annie Darling may be able to handle.

Author Notes

Carolyn G. Hart is the author of eight award-winning Death on Demand mysteries and four Henrie O mysteries. The first writer to win all three major mystery awards--the Agatha, the Anthony, and the Macavity--for her novels, Hart is the former president of the organization Sisters in Crime.

Hart's first novel in her mystery series, entitled Death on Demand, focuses on prime murder suspect Annie Laurance Darling and her attempt to clear her tarnished name. Some of the other novels in the series include Something Wicked, winner of the Agatha Award in 1988 and the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original in 1989, Design for Murder, and Honeymoon with Murder, which won the Anthony Award in 1990. Letter From Home also won the Agatha Award for Best Novel in 2003.

Her latest novel is entitled, The Devereaux Legacy. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this 12th Death on Demand adventure, Anthony and Agatha award-winner Hart uses a couple of reliable mystery devices to serve up a story as entertaining as any in this deservedly popular series. The first of these is the perennial fake psychic, here handsome charmer Emory Swanson, who comes to Broward's Rock Island to establish the Evermore Foundation, where individualsDparticularly rich, older womenDcan get in touch with their dearly departed. One of Swanson's unsuspecting devotes is retired movie star Marguerite Dumaney. She's still glamorous, still imperious, and ready to sign over her fortune to the foundation, though her many needy relatives have other ideas for her money. While any of them might be desperate enough to kill Marguerite, it's Happy, her aptly named sister, who is murdered. Annie Darling, proprietor of the Death on Demand Mystery Book Store, enters the picture when her long-absent father, who turns out to be Happy's ex-husband, appears. Annie, ably assisted by husband Max, has to clear her father and stepsister of suspicion, while she simultaneously searches for the real culprit. The evidence surrounding a second murder points to the man they all love to hate: Swanson. Or is he too obvious? Another classic story twist resolves matters in a fully satisfying finale. Hart, who's also the author of the Henrie O series (Death in Paradise, etc.), knits a tidy plot, though the cute descriptions of Max and Annie's cat, Agatha, may be too cloying for some. The insider view of the mystery bookstore world remains a special draw. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The catalytic agent in Hart's latest series addition (White Elephant Dead) is "Pudge" Laurence, the long-lost father of bookstore-owner and village sleuth Annie Laurence Darling. At the behest of a famous actress, Pudge is visiting Broward's Island, SC, where a financially slippery purveyor of crystals and otherworldly contacts creates problems for both families; the actress and Annie's mother-in-law seem enamored of his ways. Annie must tread a fine line, then: she tries to help her mother-in-law while circumventing her unwanted father. An charismatic characterization, the familiar island, and an excellent plot that is nicely knit together make this an essential purchase. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/00.] (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Sugarplum Dead A Death on Demand Mystery Chapter One Annie Laurance Darling crouched on the floor by the coffee bar. She peered into a deep crack. Maybe if she got a skewer she could reach the silver bell. A skewer? This was a bookstore, not a culinary shop. Whatever made her think of skewers? Probably the box of Diane Mott Davidson books waiting to be unpacked. Readers loved books with sleuthing cooks at Christmas. Maybe she'd better order some more of the Katherine Hall Page and Janet Laurence titles. Annie popped to her feet, tried to push back a loop of yarn into her sweater and glared at Agatha. "Agatha, this is my favorite Christmas sweater." The elegant black cat lifted a languid paw, the same paw that an instant before had swiped swiftly through the air and ripped the silver bell from atop the green yarn Christmas tree on Annie's red sweater. Agatha tilted her head and looked for all the world as if she were smiling. Annie finally grinned. "Okay. I don't blame you. It's what anybody deserves who goes around with a bell dangling from their front. Happy holidays, sweetie." Annie reached out, carefully, and stroked the velvet-soft fur, then moved behind the wooden bar and poured Kona coffee into a mug. Each mug at the Death on Demand Mystery Bookstore carried the name of a famous mystery. This one emblazoned: MURDER FOR CHRISTMAS by Agatha Christie. She also had a mug with the English title: HERCULE POIROT'S CHRISTMAS. Annie held the warm mug and smelled that wonderful Kona aroma. How cheerful to think of lacy waterfalls and champagne music when it was cold and foggy outside. Annie loved the South Carolina Low Country and especially the barrier island of Broward's Rock, but even she had to admit that December, with its sharp winds and drab brown marshes, was a good time to stay inside, read wonderful mysteries (perhaps Renowned Be Thy Grave; Or, the Murderous Miss Mooney by P. M. Carlson, Death at Dearly Manor by Betty Rowlands or False Light by Caroline Llewellyn) and drink Hawaii's best coffee. December was also a good time for shelling, especially an hour or two after dead low tide. Yesterday she and Max had found channeled whelks and two lettered olive shells. The olive, South Carolina's state shell, was glossy with a pointed spire. Max had picked up the first olive and smiled. "Hey, this one's perfect. A Low Country Christmas present just for us." Annie grinned. She adored Christmas, but sometimes she thought Max loved the holiday even more. Last night they'd made red and green taffy and one evening soon they would whip up a batch of divinity. As far as Annie was concerned, there was never time enough in December to do all she wanted to do. There were boxes of books to unpack and a big stack of luscious bound galleys to read. Publishers sent out early paperback versions of forthcoming books to alert booksellers, and many of her favorite authors would have new books out in the coming year: Anne George, Harlan Coben, Peter Robinson, Deborah Crombie and Caroline Graham. Hmm, what riches. Her Christmas present to herself would be the time to savor these books. Annie picked up the fragrant coffee, happily drank. Christmas was her favorite season. She loved everything about it: the tangy scent of pine, decorating the tree, the lighting of an Advent candle at church each Sunday, buying presents and wrapping them, making divinity and pumpkin bread. After all, Max wasn't the only chef in the family.... She put down the cup. Family. Christmas was a time for families. She'd always envied friends with big, sprawling, though sometimes noisy and cantankerous families. Her own memories were, perforce, of small gatherings. But happy ones. There were the years with her mother before she died. Later Annie had come to the island to spend the holidays with her Uncle Ambrose, a taciturn man who seldom spoke but whose every gesture to Annie spoke of love. These recent years, Christmases with Max. Dear Max, who always looked toward her when he entered the room and whose dark blue eyes held a special warmth that was for her alone. Dear Max, who was definitely not the Prince Charming she had imagined. Oh, of course he was charming and handsome and sexy, but he was light-years different from any spouse she'd ever envisioned when she was growing up. To be honest, she'd thought of someone like herself. serious, intense, hardworking. "Agatha, have you ever heard of the Odd Couple?" Agatha lifted her head to sniff the coffee mug, wrinkled her black nose. Quickly, Annie said, "Well, we aren't that odd." From the front of the store, Ingrid Webb, her longtime clerk and friend, called, "Annie, are you talking to that cat again?" Annie called back, "Ingrid, she didn't mean to bite you." "Humph." There was a slap of books being shelved. Annie understood Ingrid's coolness. Of course Agatha had damn well meant to bite. Agatha was bright, quick, gloriously beautiful and exceedingly temperamental. Annie bent down, whispered, "Agatha, you shouldn't have." Agatha eyed the green-yarn Christmas tree on Annie's sweater. Annie took a step back. Not, of course, that she was afraid of her own cat. But prudence prompted retreat. Prudence. Yes, Annie knew she was prudent. Max was not prudent, although he was too mellow ever to be reckless. Max didn't believe in schedules. When they traveled,he was always ready to turn down an enticing road even if it wasn't going in the right direction. He liked the unexpected. Max was handsome and fun and adventurous -- and lazy? She brushed away the word. To be fair, Max was quite capable of intense and excellent work. It was only that he so rarely found any reason to work. Max was debonair and clever and kind. So, all right... Sugarplum Dead A Death on Demand Mystery . Copyright © by Carolyn Hart. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Sugarplum Dead by Carolyn G. Hart All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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