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Annie Darling (The Christie Caper, 1991, etc.), owner of the Death on Demand bookstore on Broward's Rock Island, South Carolina, is author liaison for the select group of five writers named Medallion winners at the Dixie Book Festival on neighboring Hilton Head Island. The authors range from Jimmy Jay Crabtree, the worst embodiment of a southern good ol' boy, whose sales are sliding, to bestselling Melissa Sinclair; also included are local writer Emma Clyde; folksy charmer Alan Blacke; and gorgeous redhead Leah Kirby, married to older, adoring Carl. As the Festival gets under way, rumor is rife that Kenneth Hazlitt, Crabtree's publisher and owner of Mint Julep Press, is writing a novel in which the scandalous, well-hidden pasts of all the winners, thinly disguised, will be revealed. Then Hazlitt arrives, ne'er-do-well half-brother Willie in tow, and invites everyone he meets to a cocktail party in his suite--and he's dead of nicotine poison before it's over. Fingerprints in the wrong place make Annie suspect number one, and a second murder--of a stranger found shot to death in her car--doesn't help her case with mercifully taciturn Det. Wheeler. There's lots of chatter elsewhere, notably from a trio of local ladies touting their first books to publishers attending the festival while they try to gather info helpful to a beleaguered Annie. They needn't worry. She single-handedly ferrets out the solution at one of those classic gatherings of everyone concerned. Interminable references to whodunits past and present illuminate Hart's encyclopedic knowledge of the genre but do little to light up this talky, tedious exercise.
Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0553572024
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1995


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