Books by Carol Smith

Released: Feb. 7, 2001

"Smith, overly fond of large casts and menacing buildings (The Neighbors, 1999, etc.), would do better to focus on compact plotting."
Every family has secrets, but the Annesley clan probably has more than most. Why did matriarch Odile suddenly up and leave her eight kids and her beloved husband Cornelius and remain mostly incommunicado in the south of France for 40 years? Why did madcap Agnes, the ultimate party gal, suddenly enter a cloister and remain silent for the same period? Why has the body of Odile's favorite child, Roland, supposedly drowned at 18, never surfaced? Why does second-cousin Dominic Carlisle keep popping up in the lives and sexual fantasies of Odile's direct descendants Clemency, Isabelle, Madeleine, Cherie, and Elodie? Could these secrets have something to do with the brutal slashing deaths of aged Aunt Effie and Aunt Martha on the isle of Jersey and the beating to death of Pandora on a golf club in Spain? For that matter, could the Annesley family scourge be the notorious Provence Predator who's been tormenting France for decades? To celebrate her 80th birthday, Odile writes the family to tell them the terms of her will. Clemency quickly arranges a surprise reunion, but when the relatives arrive at the creepy old house in the French vineyards, they find Odile's body back by the barn. Isabelle is soon murdered, then Harry. Candles flicker, a storm is brewing, children scream, and a cross-wearing wraith appears just in time to prevent Clemency's death and tie together some, but by no means all, of the loose ends. Read full book review >
Released: July 15, 1998

After just two books, London-based literary agent Smith (Friends for Life, 1996) seems to have set some rather firm guidelines for herself: mix a couple of striking women with a few dashing gay men and a sudden murder, then wait for the fireworks to explode. Joanna Lyndhurst, a doctor who at 27 is still trying to find herself, takes center stage in this offbeat thriller. Her ten-year relationship with music-obsessed Sebastian seems to be going nowhere, so she decides to take a much-needed solo vacation in Antigua. She steps off the plane only to be swept up by charismatic art dealer Vincent van de Voorst, who swiftly introduces her to his inner circle of friends, including Vincent's closeted lover Lowell Brooks, an older, well-bred judge from Boston who's attracted the attention of several naive female admirers. Merrily Morgenstern, a stylish thirtysomething single New Yorker with a high-profile career in finance and an attitude to match, endears herself to Joanna despite her edge; meanwhile, Cora Louise Ravenel and her 40-year-old daughter Fontaine, proper ladies from Charleston, provide a soothing presence. Quiet, red-haired Jessica, who organizes music festivals for a living and harbors a mysterious past, takes a little longer to pique Joanna's interest, even though Joanna piques hers. While Joanna is thrilled to find such amusing new friends so quickly, it seems that unpleasantness is bound to erupt: Vincent is found dead in his Amsterdam apartment, and Sebastian is murdered soon after at a concert in New York. No one is exempt from suspicion, and it's left to Joanna to determine who's putting on a deadly act. Smith knows how to keep her audience hooked—the murders go unsolved until the bitter end, and her descriptions of deluxe Antiguan excursions will further satisfy all in search of fine-quality entertainment for the beach. Read full book review >
Released: April 12, 1996

A London literary agent debuts with a halfhearted celebration of female bonding, tarted up with a murder mystery but mostly concerned with sex, shopping, and food. Beth is a stout but vivacious London caterer, pals with her gay ex-husband Gus, lover with globe-trotting Oliver. Oliver is unhappily married to spoiled but glamorous Vivienne. Vivienne takes her designer cats to Duncan, a charismatic veterinarian, where meek Catherine is the receptionist. Uninhibited Sally is an Aussie bumming around London, blithe, attractive, and penniless. And Georgy is a neurotic American photographer, aggressively besotted with Gus. The five women meet while patients in a gynecological ward, their various maladies being treated by Addison, the one-and- only love of Catherine's youth. The girls stay in touch following their release from the hospital. Only the unlucky Catherine isn't cured, and Addison has to deal with the fact that many years ago, while aborting their baby, he'd caused the wounds that are now killing her. At her funeral, Duncan falls hard for Beth. But all isn't rosy: Drugs apparently sped Catherine's demise. Meanwhile, Vivienne offers to back Georgy's debut as a society-pet photographer, but the gifted lenswoman gets stabbed in the back. This attempted murder finally gets the attention of Georgy's neglectful father, a famous criminal psychologist. The good doctor investigates all of the suspects, but he doesn't move fast enough. It turns out that the accounts of vicious murders sprinkled, without explanation, between chapters are subtle clues that there's a psychopath in the cozy circle—and that none of the friends is safe. Dazed by endless rounds of coincidence, dime-store psychologizing (``Vivienne shopped for one basic reason: a need for love''), and minutely described boozy meals, readers may well be beyond caring who's wielding the knife. Read full book review >