Mark de Castrique, Grave Undertaking Reviews

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“Grave Undertaking ”

★★★★★

written by Harriet Klausner on 20/04/2004

Grave Undertaking
Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen, June 2004, $24.95, 276 pp.
ISBN: 1590581164

When his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Charlotte police officer Barry Clayton leaves the force and returns to Gainesboro, a North Carolina mountain town. He helps his parents and his uncle run the family business, the Clayton and Clayton Funeral Home. He is there when Pearly Johnson's coffin is exhumed so it could be moved to the family plot. State Senator Richards paid a lot of money to be buried in Pearly's plot, which is next to Caleb Turner, a Union sympathizer.

Before they reach Pearly's coffin, they discover the skeleton of another man on top of the coffin, a bullet in his head. A wallet is found with four hundred dollars and a picture of Barry's girlfriend Susan Miller. They identify the body of Samuel Calhoun, a private detective who was buried with the gun of Susan's father. Both Susan and her father become suspects in the death of this sleazy blackmailer. When Barry makes inquiries, he is shot. Still he thinks the killer is someone in the justice department and Barry and his friends better find out who it is before someone else dies.

Mark de Castrique has written an exciting regional mystery that gives readers feeling of what it is like living in a small southern mountain town. The protagonist is a hero in the truest sense of the word as he gives up his job to take over the family business that means everything to his mother and uncle. He's patient with his father, tries to protect his girlfriend, and find a murderer. GRAVE UNDERTAKING shows the importance of the funeral home in the community as neighbor helps neighbor in time of need.

Harriet Klausner

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