Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: Dead Man's Island by Carolyn Hart (Henrie O. #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great writing style, interesting characters, engrossing plot
Cons: Ending was rushed and therefore weaker then the book deserved.
The Bottom Line:
First in fun series
With murder on an island
It's well worth the read

Classic Setup, Entertaining Mystery

Carolyn Hart is best known for her Death on Demand mysteries, but Dead Man's Island is the first in her other series featuring retired reporter Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins or "Henrie O."

Henrie O. has just returned from vacation when she gets the phone call from Chase Prescott. The media magnet and her old lover wants her help in something, but will only tell her once she has arrived on his private island off Southern Carolina. It's there that Henrie is shocked to learn that someone tried to poison Chase. With all the suspects on the island, all Henrie has to do is use her reporter background and find the right suspect before he or she succeeds.

Henrie isn't too keen on the idea, insisting the police should be involved. But she agrees to poke around. Once the villain tries to shoot at Chase, the stakes are raised. But the danger is only beginning when the group is trapped on the island as a hurricane approaches.

Reading the book, I couldn't help but feel the setup was familiar. We've seen it in lots of mysteries before - isolated group marooned from everyone else with a killer on the loose. Even given this, I couldn't stop reading. Part of this is Ms. Hart's style. It pulls you in and makes everything seem new. I got so engrossed in the second half I read it in one sitting. This is a testament to the engrossing plot as well as the likable characters that drew you in. I had no clue what was going on at the end. The few clues were so hidden by red herrings I didn't see them until after I'd finished. I read this book before the hurricanes hit the south this year, so it made those real life events seem more real to me, somehow. Even if only in fiction, I feel like I've been through one.

So why the four stars? Because the ending was weak. While I have no problem with the solution, the way it was handled seemed rushed and forced. Almost like the author knew she was out of room and it was time to end the book.

I'd really like to give Dead Man's Island 4.5 stars. It's a great read that kept me glued to my seat to find out what was going on. With a little better ending, I wouldn't have anything to complain about.

And here's how to follow Henrie O.'s Mysteries in order.


  1. Spot on, Mark! (I was thinking Christie's And Then There Were None.)

    I was just like you and there came a point where I couldn't put the book down. That's rather unusual for me for a Cozy. But the ending wasn't satisfactory to me either.

    1. Always nice to hear that others agree with my assessment of a book. Thanks for commenting, and I hope you enjoy others in the series.