by Nancy Hersage
Kindle Edition, 326 pg.
Kindle Press, 2016
Read: December 17, 2016
Mitch’s assistant opens the mail one day and finds a styrofoam container (the kind fast food joints used to widely use) holding the remains of Mitch’s father. His fairly new wife had sent them via the USPS with a note saying, leave me alone. So Mitch calls his younger brother — a guitarist for a country band to tell him the news. Ian calls one sister, who calls the other, who calls their mother, Andy. Clearly a close-knit family. Mark was a jerk, dumped his family and did little for them afterwards. They responded in kind.
Still, your ex- (that you really never got over) or your father dies, and it gives you pause. Particularly when you’re mailed his ashes with no details about his death. Eventually, curiosity (and the slight possibility of an inheritance gets the better of the kids and they decide to investigate a bit, and get Andy to do it. Andy dives in with both feet — eventually bringing her best friend/accountant, Lorna and her nephew, Harley Davidson (long story). There’s really nothing to commend Andy for this gig — she’s a TV movie writer in-between projects/facing retirement. But, there’s something to say for availability and commitment, I guess.
This is a comedic mystery — heavy on the comedy. It is easy as pie to correctly guess/predict every beat in the mystery once Andy gets underway. But Hersage is a competent writer, and hits her marks well, tells them in an entertaining way and keeps the reader engaged. So who cares if it’s that easy?
The characters of Andy, Lorna, and the children are a lot of fun — and its with them that Hersage shines. I liked them all, enjoyed their interchanges, etc. Even the villain was told in an entertaining way — was a villain, did evil things and got some just desserts, but still fit tonally with the whole. I wasn’t crazy about Harley — it’d be very easy for people belonging to a couple of religious groups to be offended by him, but he was clearly written to be the object of mockery. So I wasn’t offended (even if I am , but I couldn’t care about him as a character, you know?
On a very minor note, one of the locations for this story was a city about 10 minutes away from my home — nice to see it in a novel and not used as a punchline. Thanks for that, Ms. Hersage!
I’m not really that convinced that this was a good book — but it entertained me, and I think it’ll entertain most readers. So, if nothing else there’s that. It’s funny, it has some well-executed (if predictable) twists, and for something in this genre, it’s pretty violence-free (I’ve read bloodier cozies).
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion, it had no bearing on anything I said. This is very overdue, and I’m really sorry about that — and that had no bearing on anything, either.