|Deborah Donnelly: Died to Match|
(Paperback), ISBN 0-440-23704-1
Donnelly's quirky humor shines, if possible, even more brightly as bridal consultant Carnegie Kincaid, owner of Made in Heaven, rejoins the entourage of oddball characters from Veiled Threats and introduces some new faces to the chaotic mix.
Struggling to keep her houseboat-based business afloat, Carnegie accepts the big bucks offered by Microsoft millionaire Elizabeth Lamott. In exchange, she plans all of Elizabeth's wedding events, including a Halloween engagement party at the Seattle Aquarium.
At the engagement party, 150 guests clad in costumes act out fantasies behind masks, imbibe free drinks and enjoy the ambience of Seattle Aquarium's captive nature. But something seems more than a little fishy when the guests find one bridesmaid unconscious in the harbor, another dead in an aquarium exhibit and an oversized, comatose Leprechaun-costumed witness. Circumstances leave Carnegie holding the bag…of money -- a retainer from the dead bridesmaid to plan her secret engagement and wedding. To keep harmful publicity about the situation to a minimum, Carnegie she agrees to join the wedding party, filling the dead bridesmaid's dress.
Wedding plans entwine with the investigation as Carnegie vows to solve the murder of her new friend and would-be clients. Although, her efforts make the work of her handsome detective boyfriend more difficult, he salvages the murder investigation. In an effort to salvage the wedding, Carnegie seeks the services of Boris the mad Russian florist and Juice, the green haired, tongue-studded, profane yet gifted cake decorator who ultimately saves the day -- the wedding day, that is.
Meanwhile, the detective drives Carnegie crazy wondering if she should break up or jump in bed with him. Further complications arise from an amorous computer genius so young Carnegie feels like a "cradle-robbing Mrs. Robinson." Add the dead bridesmaid's secret fiancé who wants to remain a secret and the tattooed felon who stalks the wedding party, and it's a Mad Hatter's slide down the rabbit hole, gaining speed with every turn of the page. Carnegie's love life hangs in mid air as Donnelly concludes a rollicking second installment of her series.
In Died to Match, Donnelly finds the perfect balance between hilarity, quirky, and real life pathos. She also balances her unorthodox characters' edginess with an innocence and work ethic that charms readers into believing in them and cheering for their success. I can't wait for the next installment in the series, May the Best Man Die, which will open with a deadly bachelor party near the Seattle Ship Canal and feature scenes set in a small coffee roasting plant north of the city. I just wish the publisher could be persuaded to release it sooner than fall 2003.
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