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Dangerous Undertaking    by Mark de Castrique order for
Dangerous Undertaking
by Mark de Castrique
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Barry Clayton has become a reluctant undertaker (known as Buryin' Barry) after his father developed Alzheimer's and someone had to take over the family business. He can handle the business, but not being shot at the graveside during a funeral. He was lucky. The killer's brother and sister died in the fusillade of buckshot. The fact that the action takes place in the mountains in western North Carolina intrigued me from the first page. My close friends live just north of there and I can attest to the beauty of the area and its stalwart mountain people - rutted dirt roads, illicit stills and all.

The big, bad power company predictably comes into play but the plot then takes an unexpected turn that made me sit up. Snake bites and chemical spills, unscrupulous land grabbers, a psychotic on the loose with a shotgun run through this first novel - not as fast as I would like them to have run, but the climax is satisfying. Dangerous Undertaking is de Castrique's first novel. To me, this was evident by the tightness of the writing and a lack of humor, though the series shows great promise. I just hope the author allows poor Buryin' Barry to recuperate before his next adventure.

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