When the trouble-making Shell Hurst, who came to Broward’s Rock, South Carolina, by way of Hollywood, mysteriously vanishes after the Fourth of July dance, few tears are shed. Shell insinuated herself into the lives of many men and women on Broward’s Rock and tried to cash in on the pain she could cause them. However, Shell’s stepdaughter Hayley worships her and runs to Max Darling of Confidential Commissions for help in finding out what happened to her. When Max shares Hayley’s concerns with his bookstore-owner wife, Annie, he initially dismisses them as the fevered imaginings of a hysterical teenaged girl. However, his curiosity is piqued when a waiter who worked at the dance also disappears.
Annie is concerned about Shell’s disappearance given the fact that no one saw her car leave the island. She convinces Max they should investigate further. Unfortunately, in doing so, Annie and Max turn over rocks that reveal nasty proverbial worms. In a small island community, this can be hazardous for your health. Annie enlists the aid of three friends: Emma, a local mystery author; Henny, a local collectibles enthusiast and avid mystery fan; and Annie’s mother-in-law, Laurel.
Solving the mystery involves untangling the web of deceit created by Shell’s many manipulations of various people at the Fourth of July dance. In the 23rd Death on Demand mystery, Carolyn Hart weaves a complex tale of heartbreak, blackmail, and deception. It’s a highly satisfying read that builds to a stunning climax.