DEBORAH DONNELLY – Died to Match.

Dell, paperback original; 1st printing, October 2002.

DEBORAH DONNELLY

   I missed the first one, of course, but I managed to catch up with Deborah Donnelly in this, her second mystery novel. The protagonist in both is Carnegie Kincaid, who’s a high-profile wedding planner in the city of Seattle. While she’s not number one, her clientele still consists of some of the wealthier big-names in town.

   In Died to Match an engagement masquerade party for two of the latter — wealthy big-names, that is — held at the Seattle Aquarium, results in one bridesmaid falling (or jumping or being pushed) into the ocean. Later on yet another one — a bridesmaid, that is — is found murdered in an exhibit with her head crushed in.

   There are a lot of characters to keep track of, which has the advantage of providing a host of possible suspects, but some of them seem to come and go without being fully introduced. Carnegie has a male friend, a newspaper reporter named Aaron, with whom she is having a touch-and-go almost romance. He seems to be the unthreatened jealous type. She thinks he smokes too much.

   The book itself is just over 300 pages long. About half of it is devoted to the various vicissitudes of the wedding planning business, Carnegie’s off-and-on affair with Aaron, and me just in general wondering why the wedding is going on as scheduled with someone (seemingly) stalking the bridesmaids like this.

   Donnelly does some fast talking and shuffling around to explain this (reference Aunt Enid, who may live not much longer) and lest I seem to be neglecting the other half of the book, she does a better-than-average job of providing all of the clues, false leads, and other required paraphernalia of an honest-to-goodness detective story.

   I doubt that I’m among the primary audience intended for this book, but in all honesty, Deborah Donnelly certainly delivers everything her readers are looking for, and maybe others, like me, who are satisfied as well.

— November 2002 (revised)



[UPDATE]  11-22-08. For whatever reason, the wedding planner ambiance, or the fact that the books were a rare breed these days, fully clued detective stories (or hopefully, a combination of both), the series seems to have caught on, at least for a while. There are six of them in all; you’ll find a complete list below. The bad news is that the last one came out nearly two years ago, and there’s not been another one since.

  Veiled Threats. Dell, pbo, Jan 2002. “In the first Wedding Planner Mystery, Carnegie ventures off her Seattle house-boat to deal with a handsome suitor, an annoying reporter, and a kidnapped bride.”

DEBORAH DONNELLY

  Died To Match. Dell, pbo, Oct 2002. “When a Halloween engagement party turns murderous, Carnegie finds herself costumed as a bridesmaid and stalked by a killer!”

  May the Best Man Die. Dell, pbo, Sept 2003. “In this Yuletide caper, Carnegie encounters a drowning at a bachelor party, a stripper in a Santa suit, and a murderous chase through a coffee roasting plant…”

  Death Takes a Honeymoon. Dell, pbo, Apr 2005. “Where there’s smoke, there’s murder, in this fiery tale of smoldering smokejumpers, hot-tempered actresses, and a super-heated Sun Valley summer.”

  You May Now Kill The Bride. Dell, pbo, Jan 2006. “On picturesque San Juan Island, love and lavender are in the air. But so are poisonous gossip, passionate jealousy…and murder.”

  Bride and Doom. Dell, pbo, Dec 2006. “When a baseball-themed engagement party is crashed by a corpse, Carnegie steps up to the plate to clear her pal of murder. Too bad her fiancÚ Aaron has suddenly come down with Relationship Deficit Disorder…”

DEBORAH DONNELLY

   Note: The short synopses above came from Deborah Donnelly’s website.