by Lorie Lewis Ham
This week I am thrilled to be reviewing the new book from one of my favorite series–Dead, White and Blue by Carolyn Hart. This is the latest Death On Demand book. We also have an interview with Carolyn were she talks about the series and her other writing, and you can enter to win a copy of the book-details at the end of this post.
Dead, White and Blue by Carolyn Hart
I didn’t get into mysteries until my late teens through Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. In my early 20s, I was ready to check out some more current authors and went on a search. Carolyn Hart’s Death On Demand series was one of the first to catch my eye–the setting of a mystery bookstore sounded wonderful–and it was. Now all these many years later her 23rd book in the series, and her 50th published book, Dead, White and Blue, is out!
Ever since I turned the first page of Death On Demand I’ve been in love with this series. Annie and Max Darling are one of my favorite mystery couples, reminding me somewhat of a more modern Nick and Nora Charles. The books are also peppered with other interesting characters including Max’s mom Laurel, who is very eccentric, and Henny who knows everything there is to know about mystery novels and has the spunk of a Miss Marple. There’s also the wonderful cats Agatha and Dorothy L. I love being able to visit the mystery bookstore and can almost imagine enjoying a cup of coffee while chatting about books and trying to guess the book covers on the wall (Annie always has a contest where people have to match the book covers to the right books). Also throughout the books are names of many mystery authors and novels, which is a lot of fun–it would be a thrill if someday one of my books could be mentioned! Why that might even be better than an Edgar lol.
In the latest book, it’s summer and Annie and Max are at the club for a July 4th dance–fireworks and all. But the fireworks don’t end up just being in the sky. Socialite and gold digger Shell Hurts makes an entrance that night and then seems to go about inflicting pain. By the end of the evening though she has gone missing. Everyone thinks she just ran off with some billionaire, but her teenaged stepdaughter thinks something is wrong and hires Max to find out. At first Max isn’t convinced there’s foul play, but Annie isn’t so sure so they begin questioning the suspects and find more questions than answers.
This is another fun mystery from Carolyn Hart, and it kept me guessing until almost the end. But as always, the best parts about these books are the characters and the setting of the mystery bookstore–I love Max and Annie and can’t wait to see where book 24 takes them.
Interview with Carolyn Hart:
KRL: Was it hard to get published in the beginning?
Carolyn: I won a contest for a mystery for girls ages 8 to 12. The Secret of the Cellars was my first published book. The subsequent books sold to different publishers so I didn’t become an established writer at any house until many years later.
KRL: Do you have a writing routine, or just write when you can?
Carolyn: I write daily and try to get three pages but often don’t succeed.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Carolyn: That depends upon the book. Escape from Paris, a WWII suspense novel being reissued this week, required months of reading and a general interest in WWII that led to years of reading WWII non-fiction. I have a bookcase filled with books about South Carolina. Of course, Google is now a huge help to authors.
KRL: Was it hard to get the first Death On Demand book published?
Carolyn: I was very lucky. Bantam was just initiating a new paperback mystery line and Death on Demand was the second book bought for that line. I wrote 11 books for Bantam and all of them are still in print.
KRL: How did you first come up with the idea for the Death On Demand series?
Carolyn: I had visited Murder by the Book in Houston and fell in love with idea of a mystery bookstore and decided to create my own on a sea island which was inspired by our many visits to Hilton Head Island.
KRL: How did you come up with Max and Annie?
Carolyn: Annie is based on the wonderful personality of our daughter who always tries her best and who makes everything fun. She was young and single at the time so I thought about a guy she would enjoy and he turned out to be Max (who is named in honor of Agatha Christie’s second husband).
KRL: How did you choose the setting?
Carolyn: We started vacationing on Hilton Head Island in the 1970s and I love the low country. What is more mysterious than Spanish moss dangling from live oak trees and the snout of an alligator appearing in dark water?
KRL: Did you always know Max and Annie would be together?
Carolyn: Oh yes.
KRL: What number in the series is the new book?
KRL: How do you keep the series fresh?
Carolyn: Each book involves new characters. Pretend you are at a cocktail party. Look around the room. Each and every person present is absolutely unique and, if you really knew them, fascinating. Take unique characters, put them in trouble, and the story will be different because each of them is different from anyone I’ve ever written about before.
KRL: Do you have a favorite book in this series?
Carolyn: Two favorites. Southern Ghost and Dead Days of Summer.
KRL: How did you come up with the plot for Dead, White and Blue?
Carolyn: I imagined a young woman walking into the pines and she is never seen again. Who was she? Who wanted her gone or dead? Who did she threaten? I started finding out the answers and that gave me the book.
KRL: Do you foresee an end to the series? If so, do you have a big finish planned?
Carolyn: No. I will write about them as long as I write.
KRL: Tell us about your ghost series? What are they like, main character and how did you come up with the idea?
Carolyn: The late Bailey Ruth Raeburn has trouble following rules but her heart is always in the right place. She’s a beautiful redhead who adores fashion, people, dogs, children, good food, and singing. I always wanted to write about a happy ghost. I loved the Topper books and Blithe Spirit.
KRL: What other writing have you been doing lately?
Carolyn: I’ve been doing a LOT of editing. Seven of my earlier titles are being republished and I am especially excited about two WWII novels, Escape from Paris (just released) and Brave Hearts in August. Escape from Paris is the story of two American sisters in Occupied Paris who help a British airman escape and soon the Gestapo is only a step behind. Brave Hearts is the story of star-crossed lovers caught up in the maelstrom of war in the Philippines.
KRL: Do you enjoy writing one series over any other?
Carolyn: No. I always enjoy each book on its own terms.
KRL: What would you like to write that you haven’t yet? (genre, story idea, setting,?)
Carolyn: My heart will always belong to mystery and suspense. At this point, I think I will be happy to continue writing one Death on Demand and one Bailey Ruth each year.
To enter to win a copy of Dead, White and Blue, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “Blue”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 29, 2013. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.