Death on Demand by Carolyn G. Hart

Death on Demand, #1

At Annie Laurance's Death On Demand bookstore on Broward's Rock Island, South Carolina, murder most foul suddenly isn't confined to the well-stocked shelves. Author Elliot Morgan's abrupt demise during a weekly gathering of famous mystery writers called the Sunday Night Regulars is proof positive that a bloody sword is sometimes mightier than a brilliant pen.With Annie in the unenviable position of primary police suspect, the pretty young mystery maven and her wealthy paramour, Max Darling, embark on an investigation into a classic locked-room mystery with high stakes. For failing to unmask a brutal and ingenious killer could mean prison for Ms. Laurance. While success could mean her death.

Annie is a bookstore owner with a problem. When murder strikes a pretentious author in front of her and other speakers, it becomes a rush to solve the crime and clear some names and reputations. Thankfully Annie has a strange friend who comes to visit the town and help her out.

Very cute! I'm not gaga over the main character since she's not fully bright and has a ridiculous temper and such, but her sidekick Max and cat Agatha bring up her appeal. The cast of mystery writers on a small island was also intriguing. The author obviously knows and loves her mystery, making the bookstore a strong setting by referencing writers and famous characters from a large variety of mystery sources throughout the book. Charmed.

Since this is a first book in the setting, a lot is still being set up - introducing the character's background, her coming to a new town and taking over the relative's store, finding her feet with meeting new members in the town. It's a cute cozy but doesn't offer much new in the unique front - the sheriff is an enemy, but the town's quirky cast helps. Max is something unique since he doesn't fit in, which helped this rise a little above the rest.

The main character breaking into a house when she's a prime suspect and being so obvious about so much with her clueless maneuvers didn't help her solve the crime on either intellect or skill. It all comes down to convenient timing and downright luck, which isn't the strongest pull in the mystery field. Not horrible but not mind-shattering, other than liking how it ties into a personal mystery of hers that she wasn't even aware of yet.

Ultimately the shine of the book is that it's setting on an island with a mystery bookstore is great. Book-themed cozies are among my favorites when paranormal isn't involved. And at least my favorite detective Hercule Poirot gets a mention.

Will try the next in the series.