Another Review at MyShelf.Com

A Grave Issue
Funeral Parlor Mystery #1
Lillian Bell

Crooked Lane
February 13, 2018/ ISBN 978-1-68331-490-5

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Journalist Desiree Turner has returned to her roots in Verbena, California, where she is helping to run her great-grandfather's funeral parlor. After all, an on-air journalist can't very well stay on-air after making a huge mistake when she didn't realize the camera was still running and it was not only taken out of context but went viral online.

While handling the funeral for the recently departed Delia Burns, Desiree has to break up a fight between the Rosemarie Brewer and her neighbor Lola Hansen. Then Rosemarie's husband Alan is shot and killed, and Lola's husband Kyle is arrested for the murder! To think it all started over barking dogs and an overwrought emu named Vincent who collapsed and died.

Desiree knows that Kyle is not guilty. The man is like a second father to her and she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wouldn't hurt anyone. Complicating matters is Desiree's tumultuous relationship with police officer Luke Butler. Luke still calls her “Death-Ray” instead of Desiree, a nickname going back to their school days together. Naturally, because she knows Kyle isn't guilty, and because she wants to prove Luke wrong, Desiree sets out to solve the crime herself!

This is an engaging mystery jam-packed with small-town charm, California heat, romance and quite a bit of humor. By the time the tale unravels, almost no one has any skeletons left in their closets. Or do they? I hope so, for future books!

A subplot of the story is the timely topic of the legality of growing marijuana, and there is some emphasis on how it may be legal in states, but it is not legal according to the federal government.

I enjoyed getting to know Verbenas residents and the dynamics of a third generation funeral parlor. Family squabbles, tension, and unsolved mysteries kept me turning pages well past my bedtime. Readers are left with an intriguing clue as to the next book in the series- is Desiree and Donna's father alive after all? Stay tuned!

Reviewed 2018