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Hearse of a Different Color    by Tim Cockey order for
Hearse of a Different Color
by Tim Cockey
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2001 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Hitchcock Sewell, handsome and charming hero of The Hearse You Came In On, has yet another problematical corpse on his hands. This time the body of a young woman is left on the doorstep of the funeral home run by Sewell and his aunt, disrupting the appropriately dignified wake of a prominent and respected heart surgeon. The death of the mysterious Helen causes turmoil in many lives, the plot focusing on private affairs as opposed to the politicking and power plays that drove the crimes in the first novel. Although murder is always a serious affair, this story is somewhat lighter in tone.

Tim Cockey entertains with a fast-paced plot, witty dialogue, and a mixed bag of characters ranging from the mundanely respectable to colorfully bizarre. His hero continues to tilt at the ridiculous, as Cockey skewers foibles in our society, without descending to meanness or cruelty. His protagonist is motivated by compassion that leads him into danger and often complicates his private life. Despite his satisfying relationship with the lovely Bonnie, Sewell becomes attached to Helen's sister; and his search for the truth behind her death, which he began out of sympathy for her, leads him into contact with a diverse selection of attractive women.

The story moves along at a brisk pace. Sewell, an amateur investigator, makes mistakes but he also makes progress. No eccentric genius he, but an intelligent and determined personality with a gift for lending a sympathetic ear, which elicits information from most of the people he meets. Cockey delivers a nice mix of plot complications and character development. Hitchcock Sewell is a sympathetic protagonist, decent and compassionate but also tough and stubborn enough to persist when he really should retreat. His feelings for people (specifically attractive females) drag him into danger. We learn more about him, his life and his friends, such as his free-spirited and unpredictable ex-wife Julia and his supportive aunt Billie, two people on whom he can always rely.

Cockey's plot in this novel, like his first, takes many twists and turns. I found the last couple almost anticlimatic, perhaps one or two twists too many. However, Hearse of a Different Color is a good read, well-written and entertaining.

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