When Nathaniel Neville died and left his fortune to the nurse who became his second wife, his son and daughter-in-law, daughter and son-in-law, and sister were all a mite upset, even though Virginia did promise to make them her heirs. But now she’s fallen in love with young scoundrel Jake O’Neill and plans to announce their engagement at a gala at the family art gallery. Alas, Jake can’t be present for the announcement because someone has bashed his head in. One of those greedy relatives might have done it. So might Elaine, whom the caterer’s daughter Jake dallied with and discarded. When a shawl matching young Chloe Martin’s dress is found beneath the victim, however, Broward’s Rock Acting Police Chief Billy Cameron decides she’s his prime suspect. Although Chloe, who also enjoyed a romantic liaison with Jake, has taken a powder, she’s left two champions behind: Annie Darling, her boss at the Death on Demand bookshop; and Annie’s husband Max, temporarily assigned to the case as a police deputy. To find out whodunit, first Annie, then Max, makes timetables of who was where when, and they surmise a witness may have caught Jake’s killer in the act. But the witness, opting for blackmail, is quickly dispatched, and the murderer is about to make Annie victim number three when a struggle for a gun ends in her favor.
Annie and her best customer Henny (April Fool Dead, 2002, etc.) offer up more titles and authors for mystery readers to sample, although this by-the-numbers offering would hardly qualify for anybody’s must-read list.