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Crescent Blues Book Views William Morrow (Hardcover), ISBN 0380977745
Carolyn Hart possesses a wonderful knowledge of mystery novelists and their creations, both past and present. I just wish she didn't feel it necessary to share all of it with her readers. Throughout April Fool Dead, Hart's character, Annie Darling, finds metaphors for her life in various novels and fictional sleuths. Even her most mundane thoughts revolve around one novel or another. This conceit, while cute at first, grows tiring after the first dozen or so references.

Book: Carolyn Hart, april fool deadThe novel contains all the elements of Hart's beloved genre: a mystery falls on the doorstep of an unconventional amateur sleuth, whose curious and stubborn nature compels her to solve it on her own. In this particular book, one of a series starring Annie, the mystery revolves around some suspicious flyers that blanket the island of Broward's Rock and threaten to reveal its residents' closely held secrets. Splitting her time between solving the mystery and organizing a book signing with eccentric local author Emma Clyde, Annie traverses the island in search of clues. Annie and Emma, along with a host of other island natives, uncover some unsavory facts about their fellow citizens which, although damaging to some, become less important when a local teacher is murdered.

Adequate and entertaining, April Fool Dead follows the formula of most novels of the genre, with little variation except in small details. Hart effectively creates a smoke screen, obscuring the real mystery until the end of the novel. A sub-plot involving Annie's often infuriatingly vague mother-in-law adds a comical air to an already fairly light-hearted book. In addition, the eccentric, yet sharp Emma Clyde possesses a biting wit that offsets Annie's well-developed yet somewhat bland character.

With summer fast approaching, this is certainly a good one to pack in the beach bag. And don't worry if you imbibe a few too many tropical drinks while you lie in the sand; the plot's not too complex to cause much of a problem.

Ceridwen S. Lewin

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