DIED TO MATCH
Wedding planner Carnegie Kincaid and the entourage of oddball characters introduced in Veiled Threats, Donnelly's debut, infuse this brisk, buoyant cozy with quirky humor and nonstop adventure. Struggling to keep Made in Heaven, her houseboat-based business, afloat, Carnegie accepts the large sums offered by Microsoft millionaire Elizabeth Lamott to plan her wedding as well as her Halloween engagement party at the Seattle Aquarium. The festivities turn decidedly fishy, however, when one bridesmaid is found floating unconscious in the harbor and another turns up dead in an aquarium exhibit, lying next to an inebriated guest in a leprechaun costume. Ever curious Carnegie takes it upon herself to investigate the murder, though her efforts tend to hamper rather than help the local police. Meanwhile, she agrees to fill the dead bridesmaid's shoes and tries to juggle two romantic interests—an amorous computer genius so young he makes her feel like a "cradle-robbing Mrs. Robinson" and a boyfriend who makes her crazy wondering if she should break up or jump in bed with him. Like a slide down the rabbit hole, this compulsively readable mystery gains speed with every turn of the page, culminating in a chaotic conclusion that leaves enough threads dangling to keep readers coming back for more. (Oct. 1)
Forecast:An unremarkable cover illustration will do little to attract browsers, but positive word of mouth and advertising in Mystery Scene may help this relative newcomer receive the attention she deserves.