Published: Saturday, May 21, 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT
“DEAD BY MIDNIGHT,” by Carolyn Hart, HarperCollins, $24.99, 282 pages (f)Solving murders comes naturally to Annie Darling, owner of the popular mystery bookstore Death on Demand. So when her newest employee doesn’t show up for work and is later found dead in her armchair, Annie suspects foul play, even though law enforcement insists that the death is a suicide.

Annie enlists the help of her charming husband, Max, and together they work tirelessly to learn the truth. As they gain momentum by unearthing incriminating evidence and interviewing suspects, their investigation takes an unexpected turn when two of their prime suspects end up dead.

“Dead by Midnight” is Carolyn Hart’s 21st book in her popular Death on Demand series in which Annie and Max sleuth their way through murders of unending variety. For Hart fans, her newest book will not disappoint, but for readers not familiar with the Death on Demand series, it could. Overused cliches, a formulaic plot line and shallowly developed characters can be distractions to the overall enjoyment of the book.

The book does contains a few mild swear words, a secret affair described with tact and three murders void of gore but not blood.

“Dead by Midnight” is a quintessential whodunit murder mystery that will have readers racing through the pages to find out who the cold-blooded killer really is.

Best of all, it’s a quick and easy read that can be read by midnight.