In Hart’s latest Agatha Christie homage, Max and Annie Darling join a party on an isolated private island to help pick a killer from ten suspects.
A year after Jeremiah Addison, her brother-in-law, fell to his death in Heron House on South Carolina’s Gold Silk Island, Britt Barlow has inherited house and island when her sister Cissy followed Jeremiah to the grave. Now somebody claims to have seen Britt, reluctant to give ailing Cissy further grief, secretly remove the wire that tripped Jeremiah from across the top of the staircase. Britt tells Max she’s afraid of being blackmailed or even murdered herself, and she wants the owner/operator of Confidential Commissions to attend a gathering of the ten people who were on the island at the time of Jeremiah’s fatal tumble. Max and Annie (Engaged to Die, 2003, etc.) disguise themselves as oral historians collecting information for a life of Jeremiah, but they’re swiftly unmasked—the one realistic stroke in this pipe dream of a retro whodunit—and have to work with the suspects, once their communications are cut off, to protect themselves from the killer. Setting, characters and motives have been sitting on the shelves perhaps a mite too long, and the Darlings’ main detective strategies are to make endless lists quaintly reminiscent of Philo Vance and get their gun stolen.
Nothing you couldn’t give your gran. Others may find themselves checking their watches as the innocent cower in terror.