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Dead by Midnight - Carolyn Hart, Author

Dead by Midnight – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘Henny tried to maintain a positive outlook, but she felt both irritated and disappointed.  She had helped Pat find a job and now Pat had let Annie down.  Henny pressed her lips together.  Her words might be sharp when she found Pat.  With a decided nod, she turned on the motor and headed for Pat’s house instead of home…On the porch, Henny admired some crimson begonias in a glazed blue vase.  A light cotton sweater lay on the green swing.  Letters and magazines protruded from the mailbox.  Before she could ring, frenzied barking erupted beyond the front door.  Gertrud sounded frantic.  That was unusual.  She was a good natured dog…Henny pulled open the screen.  She turned the front know and pushed.  She wasn’t surprised to find the door open.  Many islanders only locked up at bedtime.  “Pat?” The door swung slowly inward.  Henny stepped into the small foyer.  A grandfather clock ticked to her left.  Gertrude twisted in a circle, her claws clicking on the wooden floor, then bolted to the living room.  She skidded to a stop, lifted her sleek head, and howled, the pitiably cry high and mournful.’
After years of service with the law firm of Jamison, Jamison & Brewster, Pat Merridew had been “replaced” with a much younger “window dressing.”  This all came about after Glen Jamison married his second wife Cleo, also an attorney.  Cleo was much younger than Glen and had a reputation of getting what she wanted no matter what.  Her plans were to first get rid of the “fluff” in the office and part of that fluff included Pat as well as Kirt Brewster, taking the name of the company down to Jamison & Jamison.  Her second plan was to eliminate Glen’s  adult offspring, pitching them out on their own to fend for themselves and not rely on dad and his money.  And her third plan was to kill the influence that Glen’s sister Elaine had over him and his decisions regarding the kids that she had virtually raised after the death of his first wife, their mother. 
After her dismissal, Pat became depressed and when Henny decided to help her by getting her a job with her best friend Annie Darling in her book store Death on Demand, Pat’s spirits picked up giving her a reason to go on.  But when Henny finds her body after an apparent suicide, she finds it hard to accept.  That’s when she turns to Annie again for help.  She knows that Annie and her husband Max are the two people that can prove Pat’s death wasn’t a suicide but instead murder.  After Annie discovers a picture on Pat’s phone, taken at the Jamison’s gazebo, she finds that the field of suspects has opened tremendously.  But when one of the possible suspects turns up murdered giving Annie and Max yet another murder to solve.
I have yet to read a Carolyn Hart book that I haven’t completely enjoyed.  Her style of writing is light, yet full of suspense.  And she usually keeps me fooled until the end.  With Dead by Midnight, I was at page 265 before I knew who the real killer was and why.  Great job again Carolyn Hart.
282 Pages
William Morrow – HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN# 978-0-06-191497-3

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