Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Grave Issue (A Funeral Parlor Mystery)

Author:  Lillian Bell
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781683314905; 9781683317258
Crooked Lane Books
288 Pages
$26.99; $15.99; $7.80 Amazon
February 13, 2018


After an on-air gaffe goes viral and jeopardizes her career, journalist Desiree Turner retreats home to Verbena, California, for some peace and quiet.  She begins working in one of the quietest jobs around: presiding over funerals for her great-grandfather's funeral parlor.  But the actions seems to follow her when a fistfight breaks out between neighbors Rosemarie Brewer and Lola Hansen at one of Desiree's first funerals.  When it exposes a nasty dispute, Rosemarie's husband, Alan, is found murdered shortly after.

Lola's husband, Kyle, is immediately arrested.  Desiree, whose own father's death was devastating, has always viewed Kyle as a second father.  Determined to clear his name, Desiree jumps headfirst into the investigation and quickly discovers that Alan had several unsavory habits at his job and in his personal life, including putting assets into his mistress's account to hide them from Rosemarie.  People murder for money and love all the time, and there's no telling who he offended just enough to push them over the edge.

Desiree is looking in all the right places, but she better catch the killer fast - before they come for her next.


Desiree Turner moved home to Verbena, California after a serious on-air gaffe left her without a job.  Now she's helping run the family's funeral parlor - a place she thought she'd permanently escaped from ten years ago.  But when a murder victim is sent to the home, it becomes personal when a close family friend is accused of the crime.  Now Desiree feels she needs to solve the murder, since the police have Kyle Hanson in jail, and she knows it's just not possible.

But standing in her way is the widow, Rosemarie Brewer, who accused Kyle because of a personal vendetta against the Hansens; and the fact that the murder weapon used also belonged to them.  Desiree still isn't convinced, and no matter what it takes, she's going to find out the truth...

What can I say about this book?  It had good bones, that is true.  But I got the feeling while reading this that the author, in some small way, was using a surreptitious way to give us a politically correct agenda and promote her own views on things.  I also didn't really care for Nate's character.  He just didn't seem to click with Desiree, and she had more spark with either Luke or Rafe.  Nate just seemed boring to me and I didn't understand why she was interested in him.

Then there was the issue of the charm - we understood immediately who it was from, but I was disappointed that this story line didn't go anywhere.  If you're going to hint at something important, at least give us some kind of resolution.  I absolutely abhor cliff hangers, and I can't emphasize this too many times.  You never know if the author is going to do this in every single book after you see it once.

Then there's the funeral many 'situations' occur at funerals?  At every single funeral (sans one) there was some sort of issue with the way people behaved.  Fistfights?  Jumping into coffins?  Perhaps a fight or two once in a while, but twice in one week at the same funeral home?  What type of people live here?  Who does that?  I can't even imagine.  But the real killer is that it's one thing to read a series about a funeral home (I've read one, and the series is quite good), but it's something entirely different to read about what goes on there.  Who wants to read about funerals?  We all pretty much know what happens, we don't need to read about "packages" and everything happening at the home and the funeral.  It's depressing and brings back unhappy memories for some of us who have lost loved ones.  It would be no different than reading a book about euthanizing pets.  We know it happens, but who wants to hear about the details?  As you probably understand, if we are reading a book about a waitress, we don't need to hear about every order she places, every customer, how they're eating, what they're wearing, how she cleans up the table, etc.  This author seemed to write about every little thing that funerals entail - what packages people were buying, caskets, how they were dressed, the graveyard, etc.    

Other than that, the plot was pretty decent and the writing was good.  As a start to a new series, it was decent, and I realize that the first book in a series needs to be honed, so the author is off to a good start; but unfortunately, it just isn't my cup of tea. 

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