Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cremains of the Day (A Tallie Graver Mystery)

Author:  Misty Simon
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781496712219
Kensington Publishing
293 Pages
October 31, 2017


For Tallulah Graver, marrying wealthy Waldo Phillips seemed like the best way out of the family business, the Graver Funeral Home.  But when her marriage falls apart and Tallie is left with next to nothing, she turns to cleaning houses to make ends meet.  As humbling as it is to tidy the mansions of the snobby socialites she used to call friends, at least she doesn't have to be around dead bodies.  Until...

She discovers one of her employers lying in a closet with a knife sticking out of her chest.  This unpleasant shock seems to be part of a web of weird experiences:  Tallie's friend Gina's shop is broken into, her ex is stun-gunned where it hurts the most, and now she's receiving flowers from the dead woman.  Granted the deliveryman is handsome, but seriously, that's enough to cast a pall over anyone's day.  Now Tallie needs to dig deep to clean up this mess - before she finds herself in a grave situation.


Tallie Graver's family owns a funeral home, and after a messy divorce from a wealthy man, she decides that it's better to clean the homes of people she socialized with rather than take a job working for her family, even though she lives above the funeral parlor.  One evening while helping her friend Gina with catering the meal after a funeral, she rushes to Gina's restaurant to retrieve some items and finds Gina's cousin Katie in the shop, tied up with her mouth duct-taped.  She also finds her ex-husband Walden (whom she calls Waldo) behind the shop, and he's been tased where no man wants to be.

Detective Burton thinks Tallie might be lying - he thinks she tased Walden on purpose, and tied Katie up to cover her tracks.  Burton doesn't like her - supposedly because when she was married, her husband's money got her out of parking tickets, and he had also been called to their house on numerous occasions for noise disturbance.  Then, the next day when one of her employers is found dead, Burton also thinks she's the prime suspect.

When a mysterious man named Max shows up and is everywhere Tallie is, she finds out that he's an old friend of her brother's who now is on Waldo's trail because he owes a lot of unpaid taxes and is suspected of embezzlement.  Max is there to try and keep Tallie out of it, since she's not married anymore and trying to stay away from her old life.

But it's not easy when things keep happening to her; things that keep her in Waldo's vicinity; so she decides to find the killer herself rather than be put in jail, with or without Burton's help.  All she has is the fact she's a maid and that she's still able to access her old home - that and Max, who may be more of a help than she realizes...

While I agree that this is a good start to a new series, there were several things that bothered me.  First, she'd rather clean other people's toilets than work in a funeral home?  It's not like she'd be embalming bodies (you have to be a professional to do that; ditto with the makeup).  She lives above the home, works there part-time already, but would rather scrub toilets, floors, and clean up others' garbage; it is so much better.  This just didn't make sense.

Then, Burton is willing to nail her for a murder because of parking tickets?  Really?  That seems like a stretch.  And calling her 'girly' repeatedly?  That grated on me.  I've never had a friend or relative call me that, and if they did, I can guarantee it would only be once.  It's condescending and rude.

I get that she's attracted to Max, but in practically every other paragraph she kept talking about it in one way or another.  Man, she was so concerned with him that I wondered how she could keep her thoughts straight during the investigation.  There was so much about this that I think it took time away from the mystery.  There also wasn't any geographical info.  What does the town look like?  Is it historic?  New buildings?  Old?  It was hard to get a feel for place.

So, while I would really have liked to enjoy this book more, I just couldn't get past these points.  Hopefully in the next book she's able to realize her dream of a tea shop, and perhaps we'll learn more about the town and get to know her family.  A nice, quick read, although with a heads up, there is some cursing throughout.


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