Funeral director Desiree Turner deals with death by natural causes all the time. Death by unnatural causes? Not so much. Yet, she and her boyfriend Nate have heard some not-so-dear things about the recently departed. A suspicious remark by the late Frank Fiore’s daughters sparks some concern. And when Violet Daugherty faints behind the wheel of her car, Desiree suspects she’s got a front seat to murder.
Desiree can’t help but look into Violet’s untimely end, but soon after, rumors begin to spread that she’s accusing her clients of murder, which quickly spurs a mass cancellation and Desiree is on the verge of going out of business. What began as an effort to do due diligence for her client turns into a wild goose chase for Violet’s murderer. Desiree must find her proof before everything she works for is lost. But that’s easier said than done, because while everyone else in town is looking to take their business elsewhere, the killer sets sights directly upon Desiree.
Death is certainly a tragedy, but it’s also good news for Desiree Turner and her family’s funeral home business. What isn’t good for business? Asking your clients if the death of their loved one really was from natural causes. What’s even worse for business? Asking the medical examiner to dig deeper into another death and poking around into what looks to be an open and shut car wreck.
Relying on her reporter’s instinct, a wonky finding by the medical examiner, and a request from a client’s distant relative is how Desiree finds herself involved in the death of Violet Daughtry. To understand Violet’s death, Desiree first must understand her life and who may have wanted her dead. As it turns out, about the only “person” on earth who legitimately liked Violet Daughtry was her dog Orion. With the discovery of Violet’s stash of surveillance photos, Desiree begins to understand why no one liked Violet. With keen observation skills and absolutely no sense of boundaries and/or personal space, Violet made it her mission to confront people with their misdeeds and blackmail them. Yeah, there’s a whole host of people who had reason to see Violet dead. Or, did they?
Running parallel to the Violet investigation is Desiree’s strong sense that her father is still alive and well somewhere in the world. As she digs deeper into Violet’s death, Desiree also finds more inexplicable clues related to her father which seemingly support her theory. Unfortunately, Desiree’s efforts aren’t appreciated by everyone, OK, many, and her sister and uncle beg her stop investigating before she drives the family business right into the ground. Though Desiree initially agrees to their request, circumstances arise which pull her right back into the investigation and, literally in the line of fire. If Desiree doesn’t put all the pieces together, and soon, she’s going to lose her family, the family business, and likely, her life.
The Bottom Line: I don’t normally like reporter characters, but there is something about Desiree Turner that just makes me happy. Desiree isn’t all about getting the story at any cost, but about finding the truth even if it doesn’t result in an article for the local paper. Desiree has a dogged determination that serves her well and pisses off a lot of other people. In this installment of the series, Desiree’s determination threatens not only her life, but her family’s livelihood. What’s more, her latest investigation uncovers a secret that will alter the course of her life for a very long time to come. I think what I enjoyed most about this book were the parallel plot lines, Violet’s death and the fallout from that event and the search for Desiree’s dad. The two are nicely woven together to create a cohesive and far more interesting read. The characters feel a bit more solid in this installment and are beginning to show some growth, both of which are necessary to an ongoing series. While I can’t this is my favorite cozy mystery series, I can say it’s a good series that is getting stronger, and I won’t be giving up on it anytime soon!