Carolyn G. Hart, Death on Demand (1987)

Writing experiments are all the rage at Smithereens’ these days. Something in the spring air of Paris, perhaps?

Today I’m trying the popular 30 minutes challenge that I’ve seen around many Mommy-blogs here and there (should I mention that I loathe the term Mommy-blog? oups, it took me another 40 seconds).

Well, 30 minutes to write, edit and find a picture for a blog post seem reasonable enough to fit into my busy schedule and to address a specific topic, like a book. But perhaps I should already add the other 10 minutes I spent looking on the internet for a fancy countdown timer? Or those other 10 minutes I used to check when the book was published and to learn a bit more about Carolyn G. Hart? Scoff, scoff.

Well, Death on Demand. In that precise case, perhaps 30 minutes are too long after all. I read it in a breeze during our holidays in Portugal, but it didn’t leave me a deep impression. It’s rather the fast-food of mystery rather than the starred restaurant, but sometimes it suits our particular needs, right?

Annie Laurance has inherited from her beloved uncle a bookstore specialized in mysteries set on a wonderful island of South Carolina. She has a lot of fun running it and launching a weekly book club, especially since mystery writers seem one of the main local production of the island.

But, bam, one of them gets murdered during a power shortage, just at the beginning of one of those book club sessions where he promised to dish out dirty secrets. And who is the prime suspect? Well, Annie of course.

Yawn, yawn. Summing the plot up is actually a disservice to the book. I mean, if you come here for the plot and the plausibility and the characters, just forget about it and return to James Lee Burke.

But if you’re in for a fluffy, girly, cosy mystery set in a beautiful (fictional, unfortunately) island and you don’t really care who did it, why not spend a few hours in relaxing company? It’s an easy read, and Annie and her boyfriend Max (well, it’s complicated, but somehow you already know that they will end up together) are endearing enough. Nothing there is meant to elevate your blood pressure and even murderers are quite polite, in the British Miss Marple-meets-Barnaby tradition.

The best part indeed is the numerous allusions to famous mystery writers. Name-dropping elevated to an art. But alluding to the Masters doesn’t make the comparison very flattering. A double-edged sword of some sort. I enjoyed it, but instead of making me want to read another installment of the (long) series, I probably will turn to one of the old masters.

Uuh, still 8 minutes to go. I guess the longest part is to find a picture without get sucked in reading other people’s blogs and reviews.

2 minutes to go. Checking typos… Done! I enjoyed the challenge. Certainly something I could use again.


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