As a kid, I noticed my mom always had a book somewhere nearby, usually a mystery, featuring some smart cat (literally, a feline) solving a murder. When I got older, she and my dad fell in love with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on CBS. Jake is partial to Law & Order. I love both (especially Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. I got a thing for Chris Meloni).
I never got into “The Cat Who …” books, but I do watch crime shows all the time. The thing I love about them is that I can watch a murder, an investigation, and get a cathartic ending, where the bad guy gets his/hers, all in the space of an hour. I’ve noticed that I have trouble stopping an episode mid-way. If I get started, I have to see who dunnit. The ending is part of the process; after all, you can’t have a murder without a “perp.” And I don’t find peace until the “perp” is brought to justice. (Or “unsub,” on Criminal Minds, but Jake hates that show almost as much as he hates NCIS.)
I requested to receive an advanced reading copy of Carolyn’s Hart’s Dead by Midnight: A Death on Demand Mystery for several reasons. One: it was a mystery, and I wanted to give mystery a try. Two: It takes place in fictional Broward’s Rock, South Carolina, which reminds me a lot of the Charleston area. And three: The heroine owns a bookstore, and dang it, I’d love to own a bookstore. I thought it would be a pleasant read; I didn’t expect to become obsessed.
The premise: Pat Merrigrew is murdered, and nobody in Broward’s Rock knows why. In fact, the police think it might be a suicide, but not bookstore owner Annie Darling. Annie knows Pat was murdered; now, she has to figure out why—and who would do such a thing to such a harmless, neighborly local? As you may suspect, there are more than a few characters that might be guilty. There are several shadowy bits of behavior, intended to throw Annie off track. There is excitement, good dialogue, and some playful sleuthing. And of course, there is the necessary catharsis at the end.I very much enjoyed Dead by Midnight. That’s not my problem. My problem is (thank goodness it was on a Sunday) I couldn’t stop reading the book once I started. Jake pointed out that this is what all good books should make you do. However, even my favorite books have taken me a week to finish. In the case of Dead by Midnight, I read it in one day. It was like a tangible episode of CSI, made in paper. I couldn’t stop! I had to know who dunnit! I had to help Annie catch her perp! This is why I don’t think I’m allowed to read mysteries—I would never get anything done!
I want to thank Ms. Hart for creating such lovely characters in a lovely world. I enjoyed hearing about Annie Darling’s bookstore. I had no idea there were so many different mystery sub-genres. And I very much enjoyed Annie’s hunky, supportive husband, Max. I strained my brain to try and guess at the ending; alas, I was incorrect … but I was close … kind of. Maybe if I read a couple more mysteries, I’ll be a first class sleuth. Of course, this will never happen, though, because Sara is not allowed to read mysteries.