Hearse of a Different Color: A Novel (Hitchcock Sewell Mysteries)

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9780786889631: Hearse of a Different Color: A Novel (Hitchcock Sewell Mysteries)

Hitchcock Sewell, Baltimore's hippest undertaker and civilian sleuth, is back in a second sly, original mystery.

One of the most charming and offbeat amateur detectives to come around in years, Hitchcock Sewell does for the undertaking profession what Marilyn Monroe did for the ukulele gives it a touch of class. In this rollicking follow-up to Tim Cockey's "witty, punchy, snappy, well-written, and dang funny debut" (Harlan Coben, author of The Final Detail), a surprise blizzard dumps more than snow on the steps of Sewell & Sons funeral home it leaves behind the corpse of a murdered waitress as well. Hitch's television meteorologist girlfriend sees the crime as an opportunity to move into hard news. Her unctuous mentor wants to beat Hitch to the punch. Hitch's snooping takes him from low-life strip joints to high-tone mansions, proving yet again that undertakers and their clue-happy cohorts can be a pretty lively bunch.

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Review:

Tim Cockey's debut novel, The Hearse You Came In On, introduced readers to Hitchcock Sewell, the undertaker-turned-reluctant-sleuth, whose mordant irony and blissfully skewed perspective on the humdrum brought a remarkable vigor to a profession not usually known for its liveliness. The good news for Hitch fans is that Cockey's follow-up effort dishes up another heaping helping of sardonic wit:

The planet was one big marble of wretchedness. And I wasn't exactly being lifted aloft by bluebirds either. I was wheeling down the Baltimore- Washington Parkway in my unexciting car on the fourth record-breaking freezing cold day in a row, tuning in to what seemed to be the preexisting fact that I was going to be tracking down a cold-blooded murderer.
Said murderer has deposited a corpse on Hitch's doorstep--in the middle of a wake, no less. The unscheduled body is one Helen Waggoner, a single mother with a double life as a waitress and porn star. Hitch's girlfriend sees the unceremonious delivery as a scoop in the making. Bonnie Nash is a less-than- accurate TV weather woman who's got a bad case of occupational shame ("I'm a pair of breasts that tells you what the weather is going to be tomorrow. Maybe."). She figures that solving a murder ought to earn her a network promotion. But it's not that easy. When Helen's sister also turns to Hitch for some moral and investigative support, the undertaker finds himself digging through the family closets and unearthing some distinctly unsavory skeletons. It turns out that a taste for the (ahem) silver screen is a Waggoner tradition, and that the sisters have a long--and not particularly affectionate--history. It's up to Hitch to put the pieces of the puzzle together before a hired killer with a peculiar signature takes him apart.

Cockey has a rare gift for sending up the hallowed conventions of mystery fiction with effortlessly wry turns of phrases: "I looked about to assess the scene. I'm six-three, so I have a decent vantage point for assessing." His plot skills have sharpened since his last outing, and the narrative moves along briskly to a conclusion both tidy and ironic. Appropriately enough, though, in this Hearse, the ride is even more fun than the destination. --Kelly Flynn

About the Author:

Tim Cockey is the author of the award-winning "Hitch" series: The Hearse You Came In On, Hearse of a Different Color, Hearse Case Scenario, and Murder in the Hearse Degree. He has been a story analyst for many major film and television companies, including American Playhouse, ABC, and Hallmark Entertainment. He grew up in Baltimore and now lives in New York City.

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