Cozy Mystery Week Review: A Grave Issue (Book #1: A Funeral Parlor Mystery) by Lillian Bell

Grave IssueAfter 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 one of the quietest jobs around: presiding over funerals for her great-grandfather’s funeral parlor. But the action seems to follow her as a fistfight breaks out between neighbors Rosemarie Brewer and Lola Hansen at one of the first funerals she’s in charge of running. It exposes a nasty dispute and 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 head first 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.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Netgalley          My Rating: 3/5 stars

It all started with a dead emu and a disgraced reporter. . . .

As with so many others before her, Desiree Turner never intended to come back home. Moreover, she never intended to return with her tail tucked firmly between her legs and in need of a job. Now working for her family’s funeral home, and recovering from the loss of her career and her own father, Desiree has no desire to get mixed up in a mess, but that is exactly where she finds herself.

Desiree wants to keep her head down, do her job, and generally be left alone. That doesn’t happen, however, when two local ladies, already in a dispute over a dead emu resort to fisticuffs at Desiree’s first funeral. In a small town, the news of the brawl spreads quickly and thanks to the local newspaper man, Desiree is a part of the “news” whether she wants to be or not. As if more shame and humiliation were on her agenda!

And then there’s the dead guy . . . .

The dispute between the two brawling beauties intensifies when one of the women’s husbands is found dead as a door nail. Accusations fly and the evidence against the other husband piles up which leads to an immediate arrest. Trouble is, Desiree is certain the accused isn’t the killer and though she had no intention of becoming involved in yet another scandal, she just can’t let her friend go to prison for a crime he most certainly did not commit. Given her background as a reporter, Desiree is no stranger to poking around and asking questions. Trouble is, the more questions she asks the more confusing the whole mess becomes and the closer to danger Desiree comes.

As if the situation weren’t already intense enough, Desiree, begins to wonder about the death of her own father. As she’s poking around into other people’s business, strange things, things only her father would know about begin to appear in Desiree’s world. Little charms, a mysterious key, and loads of yarn for Desiree’s pregnant sister. With nothing but suspicion, Desiree does what she’s done best for years, continue to look around, continue to poke hornet’s nests, continue to ask uncomfortable questions, and hope she doesn’t, once again, get caught up in the crossfire.

The Bottom Line: I am truly on the fence with this book as far as my liking/disliking goes. I don’t have any complaints about the author’s writing style or the mechanics of the book, it’s been finely edited, but I had a hard time staying with this read. Additionally, I never really felt like I became all that invested in the characters which always makes it harder to truly enjoy a book. The plot is interesting enough to keep me from DNFing the read, but not spectacular. I honestly expected more out of a plot that starts with a dead emu 😊 With that being said, the end of the book picked up for me, especially as it relates to Desiree’s dad and his death, and that has me wondering if this book, the first in the series, hasn’t simply suffered from some of the issues that tend to plague such books. I’m going to give the second book a try with the sincere hope its bumps in the road have been smoothed and the characters will become a bit more well-rounded/evolved and easy to care about.

Pre-Order now for the February 13, 2018 release:

Goodreads | Amazon | B&NHardcover

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