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Foolish Undertaking    by Mark de Castrique order for
Foolish Undertaking
by Mark de Castrique
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Gainesboro, North Carolina has an unwilling funeral director. Barry Clayton left a good job and a wife who refused to go with him when he returned home to Gainesboro to take over his family's undertaking establishment from his failing father.

Small town living has not proven dull for Barry, however. Various encounters have proven exciting in previous mysteries in this sparkling series. This time, Barry is faced with the task of telling a grieving son that his father's body has disappeared from his undertaking establishment.

The ordeal is definitely exacerbated by the murder of the son. The fact that father and son were Montagnards - hill people in Vietnam who helped U.S. servicemen escape the North Vietnamese - is another glitch in the smooth seam of Barry's life. Soon he is engulfed in dignitaries who have gathered for the Montagnard hero's funeral. The action accelerates and Barry's part in it intensifies. Great characters all go to prove that no one is perfect, including Barry.

I like de Castrique's work. His plots always move forward at a good clip with a plausible story line. Barry is a likable person, although his propensity for injury is a little worrisome. It's always welcome to mystery fans when an author comes up with a new line of business for his leading character. Funeral director/amateur detective works for me.

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