A Grave Issue: A Funeral Parlor Mystery

Author Lillian Bell launches a lively mystery series starring Desiree Turner, a TV reporter axed from her job after a hot microphone incident went viral. Returning to Verbena, Calif., a small town near Sacramento, Desiree rejoins her sister Donna, brother-in-law Greg and their Uncle Joey. They all live and work together at the family-owned funeral home. The Turners deal in grief, including their own, since the widowed father of Desiree and Donna died in a surfing accident. A year later, the sisters still struggle with his disappearance.
When Rosemarie and Alan Brewer's beloved pet emu dies, the couple blames the unruly shepherd dogs belonging to neighbors Lola and Kyle Hansen. Their conflict escalates into a fistfight between the wives; soon after, Alan is found murdered. While the Turners tend to Alan's funeral, Kyle Hansen, who was like a second father to Desiree and Donna, becomes the prime suspect in Alan's homicide. Inquisitive Desiree starts a quest to exonerate Kyle and learn more about the murder victim, who was the manager of the Verbena Union Bank. Desiree discovers that Alan harbored many secrets and had a long list of enemies.

Suspenseful subplots and red herrings unravel this smartly crafted comic mystery that assembles a well-conceived cast of suspects embroiled in the stifling absurdities of small-town life. Bell cleverly ties up loose ends, while leaving some stragglers that are sure to rouse reader enthusiasm for the next installment. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

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